Philadelphia

Philadelphia anaheimer Wed, 12/26/2018 - 16:40

Philadelphia skyline Wikipedia by Brian W. SchallerPhiladelphia is famous for the historic events that led to the forming of the United States of America. This is where the founding fathers declared independence and later signed the constitution.  Many visitors come here to relive those momentous events and walk in the footsteps of giants.

Philadelphia - Independence Hall - Wikipedia BY Captain Albert E ThebergeBut Philly is much more than a window on the past. Today’s Philadelphia offers a lot of food, culture and entertainment. A visit to this city is not complete without trying the variety of Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches, visiting a museum or catching a symphonic performance.

You can enjoy all this history and culture without driving. Most of the main attractions are within a walking distance from the city center. If you decide to go further you can always take a bus or a subway.

This is an overview of Philly’s history and fun attractions. You can get more details about the history here – and about fun things to do here.   

The history

Philadelphia City Hall - Wikipedia by Max BinderThe city was founded by William Penn, who wanted a capital for Pennsylvania that avoids the horrors of urban areas. He picked a location between 2 major rivers – the Delaware and the Schuylkill – and tried for low-density population.

The name Philadelphia means Brotherly Love in Greek, which fitted in nicely with William Penn’s dream of creating a city of tolerance and religious freedom. Read more about the city’s history here.  

Interesting Facts: Philadelphia is the city of many firsts like the first hospital in 1751, first Zoo in 1859, the first daily newspaper in 1784 and first general use computer in 1946.

Philadelphia Liberty BellLater the city became known as the center of the American Revolution, the declaration of independence and writing the Constitution.  You can find many more historic Philly sites at the Visit Philly website here.

To experience this history, a visit to the Liberty Bell Center, National Constitution Center and Independence Hall is a must. Read more about the city’s history here.  

Interesting Facts: Liberty bell originally was called the State House Bell. It wasn’t referred to as Liberty Bell until the 1800s as part of the abolitionist movement.

Attractions

Philly is not only about the founding of this nation. It is a vibrant city with lots of attractions, art and entertainment. Read more about fun activities and attraction in Philly here.

Philadelphia Ritten house Square - Wikipedia by Wasted Time RYou can walk to most of those destinations - located within a few blocks from each other. If you get tired from walking you can jump on a bus, a subway or hire an Uber. So, if you have a car, park it somewhere and forget about it for a while.

Start by visiting City Hall - One of the most distinctive government buildings in the US. It was built in 1901 and still houses a big portion of the Philadelphia government. Don’t forget to go to the observation deck for a great 360-degree view of the city.

Interesting Facts: William Penn’s Statue (the founder of Philadelphia Reading Terminal MarketPhiladelphia) is still considered the tallest status in the World.

Reading Terminal Market is a year-round indoor market is overflowing with food vendors from around the world and it is also a place to buy produce, meat, fish, cheese and candies.

At Rittenhouse Square, you can enjoy immaculate gardens, pool and statutes.

Philadelphia One Liberty Observation DeckTo get an amazing view of the city from above, go to the One Liberty Observation Deck. From the enclosed observation deck, you can gaze down at an interesting mix of historic buildings and ultra-modern skyscrapers. Very prominent between the tall building is City Hall with William Penn’s statue.

For some fun at the waterfront, a visit to Penn's Landing is a must. You can enjoy a stroll along the waterfront or spend some time at Spruce Street Harbor Park. The park is only open in Spring and Fall but during those times you can relax in a hammock, watch a movie, dine on floating barges or have a drink at a Beer Garden.

IPhiladelphia waterfrontnteresting Facts: The city collected many nicknames over the years: Philly, The Birthplace of America, The City that Loves you Back, The Quaker City, The Cradle of Liberty and The City of Brotherly Love.

At night the park turns into a dazzling show of light with colorful LED lights hanging from the trees and ships showing off their decorations.

Philadelphia Fun and American History

Philadelphia Fun and American History anaheimer Sat, 12/29/2018 - 12:53

Philadelphia One Liberty Observation DeckPhiladelphia is famous for the historic events that led to the forming of the United States of America. This is where the founding fathers declared independence and later signed the constitution.  Many visitors come here to relive those momentous events and walk in the footsteps of giants.

But Philly is much more than a window on the past. Today’s Philadelphia offers a lot of food, culture and entertainment. A visit to this city is not complete without trying the variety of Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches, visiting a museum or catching a symphonic performance.

Read more about the city of Philadelphia here

Philadelphia Liberty BellIn this article, I highlight the fun things you can do in Philly. You can also read more about the history here.   

Attractions

Philly is not only about the founding of this nation. It is a vibrant city with lots of attractions, art and entertainment.

You can walk to most of those destinations - located within a few blocks from each other. If you get tired from walking you can jump on a bus, a subway or hire an Uber. So, if you have a car, park it somewhere and forget about it for a while.

City Hall

One of the most distinctive government buildings in the US. It was built in 1901 and still Philadelphia City Hall - Wikipedia by Max Binderhouses a big portion of the Philadelphia government.

Its tower holding the statue of William Penn made it the tallest habitable building in the world for a long time. Although it lost its tallest building bragging rights later to Eifel Tower, Gulf Tower in Pittsburgh and One Liberty Place in Philadelphia, it is still considered the largest municipal building in the USA.

The observation deck is open to the public as part of a guided tour. From a height of 500 ft, you can get a very good 360-degree view of the city.

Tip: to take part in the observation deck tour you must buy timed tickets online ahead of time here.

Philadelphia City Hall HolidaysYou can also visit some of the most ornate public rooms like the City Council Chamber or the Supreme Court Room.

During the holidays the outside façade of the building turns into a light and sound celebration and the grounds are turned into a Christmas Market.

Interesting Facts: William Penn’s Statue (the founder of Philadelphia) is still considered the tallest status in the World.

Reading Terminal Market

The best way to experience the food scene in Philly. This indoor market is overflowing with Philadelphia Reading Terminal Marketfood vendors from around the world and it is also a place to buy produce, meat, fish, cheese and candies.                           

The market opened in 1893 right under the elevated platform of the Reading Railroad Company. The trains are long gone, but the market still lives on and provides a respite from the harsh weather outside. The rest of the building is now part of the Philadelphia Convention Center.

Interesting Facts: Philly is considered the Mural capital of the USA with more than 2000 outdoor murals and many indoor.

Philadelphia Reading Terminal from Wikipedia by Jersey856 Some vendors have been on location since opening day but many new ones pop up every year to keep this place interesting.

A visit to the city is not complete without trying the famous Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. You can find a variety of those delights in this market.

Some of the ethnic cuisine you can find here: Chinese, Thai, Dutch, Middle Eastern, Italian, Greek and Mexican. 

You can visit the market any day of the week. Most vendors are open every day. The best way to experience this place is by joining a tour. Read about my experience with Taste of Philly here.

Elfreth's Alley

As you walk between the city center and the waterfront you might stumble into this narrow cobblestonePhiladelphia Elfreth's Alley from Wikipedia by Kjetil Reee street, but if you don’t, make sure to find it anyway.

This little street has existed since 1702 and is a good example of early working-class Philadelphia homes and businesses. It is also considered the nation’s oldest residential street and is a National Historic Landmark.

Interesting Facts: The first organized protest against slavery was held in Philly.

To get a deeper glimpse into this era, visit the Elfreth's Alley Museum, which is located on the same street. The museum is located inside the restored home of 2 dressmakers and provides a window on life during the early days of this city.    

Rittenhouse Square

Philadelphia Ritten house Square - Wikipedia by Wasted Time RWilliam Penn, the founder of Philly, planned several open space parks for his city and most of them are still standing.

This city center park greets the visitor with well-maintained gardens a reflection pool and many statues. It is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

The area around the square is considered one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the USA with high-end apartments and great restaurants.

One Liberty Observation Deck

One of the best ways to learn about a new city is to find an observation tower and get a 360-Philadelphia One Liberty Observation Deck2degree view.

One Liberty Place is the tallest building in town and offers an unobstructed view of the city and surrounding area. You can clearly see Philly spread out between 2 rivers.

As you walk around inside the enclosed observation deck, you can gaze down at the interesting mix of historic buildings and ultra-modern skyscrapers. Very prominent between the tall building is City Hall with William Penn’s statue.

Tip: A free guided tour is included with your admission, but you need to plan ahead because these tours are only offered at specific times. Go to their website for tour times.

Chairs and couches are available so you just sit and enjoy the view. If you get the Sun & Stars ticket You can come back for a second visit, so you can experience the view in daylight and at night. During our visit, we enjoyed an amazing sunset and the twinkling city lights.

Once you are done with this breathtaking view, you can enjoy some shopping at the first-floor mall.

The Academy of Natural Sciences

Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences - DinoThis museum is the oldest natural history institution in the Americas, open since 1812, with a wealth of exhibits and collections.

It is a great way to spend several hours with the kids gazing at the huge dioramas depicting animals in their natural habitat – or the huge dinosaur skeletons.

In the butterfly garden, you can see and interact with live butterflies from many species. This enclosed exhibit is kept warm and humid to suit the inhabitants.

The Inside-Out is a children's play and discovery area suitable for ages 3 to 8. You can sit and relax while the kids explore, find fossils or interact with livePhiladelphia Academy of Natural Sciences - Diorama animals.

Some visiting exhibits require an extra ticket but they might be worth the additional expense. For example, the Xtreme Bugs exhibit displays 20 huge-colorful moving bugs. This one ends on January 21, 2019. Check the website for more visiting exhibits.

Penn's Landing

Philadelphia sits between two rivers so it is natural to want to enjoy the riverfront. At Penn’s Landing, you can find a lot of activities for any time of the year.

Philadelphia Spruce Street Harbor Park by Matt StanleyYou can enjoy a stroll along the waterfront or spend some time at the Spruce Street Harbor Park. The park is only open in Spring and Fall but during those times you can relax in a hammock, watch a movie, dine on floating barges or have a drink at a Beer Garden.

Interesting Facts: The city collected many nicknames over the years: Philly, The Birthplace of America, The City that Loves you Back, The Quaker City, The Cradle of Liberty and The City of Brotherly Love.

At night the park turns into a dazzling show of light with colorful LED lights hanging from the trees and ships showing off their decorations.

Nearby you can take a Yoga class, enjoy a street performance or go roller skating (or Ice Skating in winter).

From Penn’s Landing, you can also take a river cruise on one of the ships moored here. During my visit, I went on a lunch cruise on the Spirit of Philadelphia. The lunch buffet was very good, but I especially enjoyed the views and the dance floor.    

Philly during the HolidaysPhiladelphia Comcast Center Show

During the holidays Philadelphia turns into a magical place of celebration with lights, sounds and Christmas markets.

City Hall’s west façade turns into a dazzling display of light synchronized with festive music. The show starts at 5:30 PM and runs every hour after that. Before and in between shows enjoy the decorations and the Christmas market held on the grounds around the building.

Philadelphia City Hall light showAt the Comcast Center lobby, enjoy another breathtaking holiday show on a giant super high-resolution LED screen.  The show combines portions of the Nutcracker and sleigh ride over the city. There is always a crowd in the lobby enjoying the show.

Another great light show can be found at Franklin Square. This historic square is dressed up with 75,000 lights, a giant kite and a carousel with lots of food and music.

See more holiday festivities here

Philadelphia History

Philadelphia History anaheimer Sun, 12/30/2018 - 15:27

Philadelphia skyline Wikipedia by Brian W. SchallerPhiladelphia is famous for the historic events that led to the forming of the United States of America. This is where the founding fathers declared independence and later signed the constitution.  Many visitors come here to relive those momentous events and walk in the footsteps of giants.

But Philly is much more than a window on the past. Today’s Philadelphia offers a lot of food, culture and entertainment. A visit to this city is not complete without trying the variety of Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches, visiting a museum or catching a symphonic performance.

Read more about the city of Philadelphia here

In this article, I highlight the historic events and sites in this beautiful city. You can read more about fun activities here.  

The history

Philadelphia City Hall - Wikipedia by Max BinderThe city was founded by William Penn, who wanted a capital for Pennsylvania that avoids the horrors of urban areas. He picked a location between 2 major rivers – the Delaware and the Schuylkill – and tried for low-density population.

The name Philadelphia means Brotherly Love in Greek, which fitted in nicely with William Penn’s dream of creating a city of tolerance and religious freedom. Read more about the city’s history here.

Interesting Facts: Philadelphia is the city of many firsts like the first hospital in 1751, first Zoo in 1859, the first daily newspaper in 1784 and first general use computer in 1946.

Later the city became known as the center of the American Revolution, the declaration of independence and writing the Constitution.  You can find many more historic Philly sites at the Visit Philly website here.

To experience this history, a visit to the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall is a must.

Liberty Bell Center

Philadelphia Liberty BellThe center is located at the Independence National Historical Park, which hosts several historic buildings and exhibits.

At the center, you can learn about the road to independence and see the actual Bell that was rung as the declaration was read.

Interesting Facts: The Bell originally was called the State House Bell. It wasn’t referred to as Liberty Bell until the 1800s as part of the abolitionist movement.

Several exhibits highlight the history of the Bell, how it became a symbol of liberty and what happened when it cracked.  In one alcove you can read the declaration of independence in nine languages.

Once you pass through all of the exhibits, you can view the Bell from all directions and pose for photos with this historic icon.

This exhibit is free. It can get very busy at times. The security checkpoint at the beginning of the line adds to the backup. If it is too crowded, just walk around in the park outside for a while and try again later.

National Constitution Center

Philadelphia National Constitution Center - Signing Declaration of independenceAcross the street from Liberty Bell, in the same historic park, you must visit the Constitution Center. This museum is dedicated to the declaration of independence and the US constitution.

In one hall you can witness a life-size representation of the founding fathers as they sign the historic document. You can walk among them and sign the declaration yourself.

Interesting Facts: Politics nowadays are very continuous but it is Philadelphia National Constitution Center Docsnothing new. In 1800 a political dispute between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr resulted in a duel to the death of Hamilton.

In another hall,l you can take the oath of a supreme court justice and view many exhibits highlighting the debates that raged before and after the declaration.

A multimedia show is presented in the auditorium taking the visitor on a journey through the history of democracy and the power of the people.

Independence Hall

Philadelphia - Independence Hall - Wikipedia BY Captain Albert E ThebergeThis is where the declaration of independence and the constitution were debated and signed.

After long debates by the delegate, the 13 colonies united in declaring independence from the British Empire on July 4, 1776.

Interesting Facts: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams did not sign the Constitution. They were out of town on business.

The building continued to serve as a meeting place for delegates trying to write a constitution for the independent colonies. In 1787 the constitution document was completed. 

Tip: To experience this historic building, you must join a walking tour by reservation only. You have to line up at the visitor center at opening time to grab free tickets for your party. They run out quickly in the morning.

The tour takes about 40 minutes and goes through several historic buildings and roomsPhilly - Betsy Ross House from Wikipedia By Beyond My Ken.

Betsy Ross House

A few blocks away from Independence National Historical Park, you can relive the story of how the first American Flag was made.

Beware though that not every historian believes the story of the seamstress Betsy sewing the first flag, but it is still very entertaining and educational to view the exhibits and learn about this side story of the independence.  

Reading Terminal Market Food Tasting Tour

Reading Terminal Market Food Tasting Tour anaheimer Sun, 12/30/2018 - 15:52

Philadelphia Reading Terminal MarketPhiladelphia is famous for the historic events that led to the forming of the United States of America. This is where the founding fathers declared independence and later signed the constitution.  Many visitors come here to relive those momentous events and walk in the footsteps of giants.

But Philly is much more than a window on the past. Today’s Philadelphia offers a lot of food, culture and entertainment. A visit to this city is not complete without trying the variety of Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches, visiting a museum or catching a symphonic performance.

Read more about the city of Philadelphia here

Food Tasting Tour at Reading Terminal Market

Philadelphia Reading Terminal from Wikipedia by Jersey856 A great way to learn about a city to join a walking tour or a food tasting tour. During my first visit to Philly, I joined the Taste of Philly food tour and was rewarded with a great experience.

The selection of tastings were very good, but the commentary and local lure provided by our guide – Jim - were excellent.

At the beginning of the tour, we left the market and gazed at the building from outside and learn about its beginnings as a train station.  We then ventured into the terminal building and admired the huge murals on the walls and the elevated platform where the trains stopped.

After this short history lesson, we went back inside and started sampling some of the delicious foods. We started with a taste of French Vanilla Ice Cream from L.D. Bassett. It was delicious and a very good start.  

Interesting facts: Lewis Dubois Bassett started making ice cream using mule-turned churn in 1861.

Philadelphia Reading Terminal Market - Bassett's Ice CreamOur next stop was at Peal’s Oster Bar where we tried their Snapping Turtle Soup. It was very tasty, but I was never sure if it had real turtle meat in it.

Next, we enjoyed a Pretzel at Miller’s Twist. They make the chewy pretzels from fresh dough with many flavors. It said that you can have one of their creations for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Then I got to taste a Buttermilk Cake for the first time at Beiler’s Bakery. Very rich and creamy flavor – I am hooked.

Interesting Facts: The original Philly Cheesesteaks did not have any cheese in them. The cheese came 10 years later in the 1940s.

The tour ended with our guide giving us a Kiss. This chocolate treat was from Mueller Philadelphia  Reading Terminal Market - Peal’s Oster Bar Chocolate Co and it is said to be the inspiration of Hershey’s kisses. I have visited this vendor earlier and bought several boxes of variety truffle packs as gifts – and for myself. They have an amazing variety of treats.

The tour lasted 90 minutes and was very good but could have been better. A think there should be more tastings and should include Philly Cheesesteak tastings. How can you have a Philly food tasting tour without a taste of Cheesesteaks? To be fair they do mention on their website that this tour is more about the history than the food.