Philadelphia is a city which often gets overshadowed by other East Coast cities in terms of its important to the United States both historically and today. Although people do realize that there are historic landmarks to see in Philadelphia, they often forget about them because of their attention to the history of New York City, Washington D.C. and Boston. Despite this, many travelers do make it to Philadelphia each year where they are faced with an array of historic landmarks to choose from in designing their itinerary. Philadelphia is an old U.S. city and one which has seen a lot of changes over the years so there are a lot of interesting things commemorated here.
People interested in visiting the historic landmarks of Philadelphia can start looking almost anywhere in the city to find the history that is around every corner there. However, people who are seeking a more focused start for their historical tour of Philadelphia are going to want to head to the historic neighborhood of Germantown. It is home to a large number of the historic landmarks that are to be founding the city. It is also the type of historic area that gives off the charm of history and really gets you in the mood for immersing yourself in the past.
There will be many different things to see even just in Germantown but you can start by checking out the historic houses that are located there. (Historic mansions is probably a more accurate term as these old homes are huge!) One example is the Deshler-Morris House which is notable specifically because George Washington spent time living in it. The John Johnson House is another historic landmark home in the area and is important because of its association with The Underground Railroad and the anti-slavery movement. People seeking a more pleasant historic home will find that the Wyck House, with its associated gardens, is a nice place to stop during a tour of Germantown.
Of course, historic homes aren’t the only historic landmarks that you’re going to find when you’re in Germantown. There are also other sights that are associated with various periods of Philadelphia’s history. For example, the Germantown Cricket Club is located here and stands as an example of the kind of leisure that has historically been a part of the area for residents over the years. The Mennonite Meeting House is an example of some of the religious groups that are important to the history of Germantown. And Vernon Park is a small park which has several historic monuments located within it.
When you’re ready to leave Germantown and venture into the rest of historic Philadelphia, you’ll find that there remains no shortage of sights to see. The next area that you’re going to want to head towards is the historic downtown area. This is the place that’s going to be home to the most famous Philadelphia landmark that you probably already have in mind – The Liberty Bell. It’s also an area of Philadelphia where you are going to get to see a lot of other aspects related to the history of the United States, particularly around the time of the American Revolution.
The place that you’ll want to look for in downtown historic Philadelphia where these things are located is the Independence National Historical Park. This urban park takes up nearly fifty acres in the downtown Philadelphia area. The Liberty Bell is one of the most important things that you will see here. It’s part of the Independence Hall which is the location where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Independence Hall is one building that makes up a series of buildings called Independence Mall. At the opposite end of this mall is the National Constitution Center which is another historic landmark that many people see during their stay in Philadelphia. Between these buildings are a series of other lesser-known landmarks many of which display the Victorian architecture which makes up an artistic aspect of the city’s history. An example of one of these landmarks is the Betsy Ross House where this famous woman is believed to have made the first American flag.
There are so many different areas of American History to explore in Philadelphia that it can be hard to narrow down your focus. However if you were interested in studying one particular person who was important to the history of this area, there’s a good chance that person would be Benjamin Franklin. If that was your area of interest, you’d most likely make sure to visit the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. This is part of the Franklin Institute which is a museum and science center that is of great interest to many people who come to visit Philadelphia. If you are interested in learning a little bit of something about the history of science in the United States as well as about the direct influence that Benjamin Franklin had on this kind of innovation, this would be an area that you would want to explore.
Of course, not all of the history that there is to see in Philadelphia is necessarily American History in the traditional sense. There are historic areas of Philadelphia that are unique to the city. For example, many people are interested in making a visit to Boathouse Row. This National Historic Landmark consists of ten houses along the waterfront which are designed with a unique lighting system that creates quite the spectacle at night. During the day, this location is home to a number of boat regattas and is considered to be one of the centers of regatta racing throughout the world. Anyone with an interest in boating history will take an interest in this historic Philadelphia landmark.
There are also landmarks located throughout Philadelphia that represent the famous people who have lived and worked in the area but who aren’t affiliated with the government or the history of the United States. For example, many people are interested in visiting the historic home and museum of author Edgar Allan Poe. There are numerous other museums and historic homes throughout the area which can be further explored by someone interested in this part of Philadelphia’s history.
The art history of Philadelphia is almost as important as the rest of the history of this city and shouldn’t be forgotten when exploring the area. The most well-known artist to come out of Philadelphia could well be considered Andy Warhol who has a museum in the city that is frequented by almost everyone interested in modern art. However, it is the city’s appreciation of public art that really stands out in comparison with other cities. You will see it all around the city as you travel throughout the area but you may want to research it more in-depth if this is an area of the city’s history that is of particular interest to you.
It can be difficult to decide what to see when visiting Philadelphia for the first time. Are you most interested in the historic homes that make up Germantown? Do you lean towards the idea of immersing yourself in the history of the American Revolution that played out in Philadelphia and is commemorated by monuments and landmarks throughout the city? Or are you most interested in the art history that has been so important to the development of the city? Whatever historical niche is most fascinating to you, Philadelphia has something within that niche for you to explore.
Photo credit: skpy