U.S. History in Philly
Collected by Sue Manuel, AFAR Local Expert
Philly, or The City of Brotherly Love, is rich with U.S. historic attractions and proudly holds many "first" and "oldest" records. Get your learning cap on and witness the city bursting with U.S. history. Immerse yourself in tours of Philly's cobblestone streets, historic buildings and tales of revolution and freedom. Your American history class starts the minute you step foot in Philadelphia.
N 6th St & Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA
The Liberty Bell, long associated with the American Revolution, actually predates the conflict. It arrived in Philadelphia in 1752 at Independence Hall, then known as the Pennsylvania State House. The bell was inscribed with a Bible verse:...
520 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA
Prior to being rechristened as Independence Hall, this building was used and known as the Pennsylvania State House. The founding fathers of the United States met here in the Assembly Room to debate and adopt both the Declaration of Independence...
Congress Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA
The guide called this the "kindergarden of the United States." He meant it to describe where and when the U.S. political system was created and where the founding fathers learned to govern. I wondered if that phrase couldn't also describe the...
15 S 7th St, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA
The recently renovated and reopened Philadelphia History Museum showcases an impressive collection of art, objects, and artifacts spanning 330 years of the city's history. Dating back to 1826, the building itself plays into the journey through the...
124-126 Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA
Visitors seeking an immersive-history experience can get a chance to travel back in time and check out the homes, stories, and daily routines of early Philadelphians, from everyday citizens to the city’s better-known inhabitants from the...
532 N 7th St, Philadelphia, PA 19123, USA
The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site is a quick and worthwhile stop for anyone interested in one of literature’s most enigmatic authors. It doesn’t take much time to tour the house and it provides a revealing glimpse into Poe’s life during...
640 Waterworks Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA
For anyone interested in history, engineering, architecture, or even the importance of clean water, the Fairmount Water Works is an informative (and free) attraction. Philadelphia was the first large American city to deem the delivery of safe...
3822 Ridge Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19132, USA
Laurel Hill Cemetery is a hidden gem that many locals don't know about, and those who do have put it on their bucket list of places to go. The cemetery is also on many “first” lists: The first planned rural cemetery for the city. The first...
2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA
What do Al Capone and Bruce Willis have in common? They both did time here at Eastern State Penitentiary. (OK, Willis wasn't an inmate, but he did shoot the film 12 Monkeys here.) The facility's first inmate was brought through these doors in...
45 N 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA
Bassetts is America’s oldest ice cream company … so they must be doing something right! This is a story about longevity … and ice cream. In 1892, Lewis D. Bassett moved his ice cream operation to the newly built Reading Terminal Market in Center...
3400 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
Like many other Philly institutions, the Philadelphia Zoo is America’s first. It opened in 1874 and encompasses over 40 acres of gardens and exhibits, featuring more than 1,300 animals, including many rare and endangered species. Visitors may need...
1 Boathouse Row, Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA
Anyone visiting Philadelphia who plans to include the Museum of Art and/or the Fairmount Water Works in their itinerary should consider taking a little extra time to stroll along nearby Boathouse Row. The adventurous who have a bit more time can...
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