Friday, October 20, 2006

Saturday, September 30th

As I previously mentioned there was originally a golf tournament scheduled for the Saturday. It ended up being cancelled due to low registration. I convinced my boss to let me stay the extra day because one more night at the hotel was cheaper then changing my plane ticket. That meant I had a totally free day on Saturday. Luckily Shirley in NJ was willing to make the hour drive over to Philly to spend the day with me. Shirley has lived in Philly and worked down town so she was a great tour guide. It was really over cast but we had a really nice, low key day chock full of sightseeing.

Now, remember that I had just come from Washington, DC and from touring Mount Vernon. *Everything* I saw in Philadelphia on this day dovetailed with those experiences. It was fantastic.

Our first stop was at the Betsy Ross house. This is arguably one of the more popular tourist sites in Philly. The guide book describes it as follows:
This historic house commemorates the life and accomplishments of Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia patriot believed to have made the first American flag. An excellent example of Colonial “middling” – class architecture, the Betsy Ross House brings to life the working and living conditions of an 18th- century artisan.”

There is some controversy that surrounds Betsy Ross. Did she actually sew the first flag or not? Shirley and I took the extremely detailed self guided tour (it told you every time the floor sloped up!!!) and it claimed that she did. Even going to the lengths of detailing the visit where George Washington reportedly came and requested her assistance with the flag and how she modified the original design from a six pointed star to five.

The on site guides were fantastic. We spoke with the first guy for probably 20 minutes. He told us all about living in the 18th century, how he met his wife, and the benefits of working in the tourism industry.

The second guide, whom I didn’t get a picture of, was supposed to be Betsy Ross. This chick was unflappable!!! She stayed in character, answering questions as Betsy, no matter what we threw at her. It was fascinating.

Our next stop was Elfreth’s Alley. Again from the guide book:
This is the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the nation and a National Historic Landmark. This streetscape of 32 Colonial and Federal-style homes was once occupied by artisans etc.

Elfreth’s Alley is very senic and it was neat to see it “IRL”. At the Franklin Institute on Tuesday I had viewed a display on “fire markers” Small plaques found on buildings indicating that they had fire insurance. Since that time I had been looking at every building trying to locate one of these plaques. At Elfreth’s Alley I finally found them. It was rather exciting :)

From Elfreth’s Alley we continued our tour of Philadelphia. We walked past the “Arch Street, Friends Meeting House” to the Christ Church Burial Ground where Ben Franklin’s grave is. We were going to take a tour but they warned us that if it started to do more then just drizzle they’d cancel it so we passed. We did see Franklin’s grave though. The US Mint was closed or we would have toured it. At the “Free Quaker Meeting House Museum” we learned a little bit about the Quakers and their way of worship.

Our next stop was the Independence Visitor Center. There we had lunch and dried out a bit. They had a short video called “Independence” which was an overview of Independence National Historical Park. Keep in mind that this area is commonly referred to as “the most historic square mile” in the country. The video really helped lay the foundation for the rest of the day.

From there we went to what is probably the most famous Philadelphia attraction, the Liberty Bell. I was *amazed* at how much security there was there. It was almost as bad as an airport. The security guard had a conspiracy theory explanation that linked to 9/11 too. It wasn’t a huge deal, just kind of a pain. To get to the Liberty Bell, you walk through a long hall full of the history of, and significant happenings associated with, the Liberty Bell. Very educational and informative. The bell itself was pretty much what I had expected. About the right size too. The funny part was while I was standing looking at it I got a text message from a friend asking if she could get a ride to the bible study that night. I took a picture of the bell and texted it back to her saying “uh, nope, not tonight! I’m in Philly!” (Guess I forgot to tell her!)

Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the US Constitution was written was only accessible by ticket. By the time we go there they were all out. We were still able to view Congress Hall, where the US Senate and House of Representatives met from 1790-1800 and Old City Hall, where the second president of the United States, James Adams, was inaugurated.

I might be getting Old City Hall and Library Hall mixed up. Either way, it was one of them. Upstairs in one of the buildings was a meeting room that had very similar architecture and accents to Mount Vernon. Cheryl, remember the dark green paint and plaster molding used in the dining room at Mount Vernon? This room was decorated exactly the same way!!!

We also took a very quick tour of Philosopher’s Hall and walked past Carpenters Hall. Our next stop was at The Bourse where we picked up some post cards and then by KYW-3, Shirley’s news station.

To end the day we went for dinner at City Tavern. From the guide book:
Visitors will experience a gastronomic trip back in time at City Tavern at Second and Walnut streets. It’s a reconstruction of the tavern where many unofficial meetings of the First and Second Continental Congresses and the Constitutional Convention took place.

I had walked up Second Street many times during the week. After all the touring we did on Saturday, City Tavern was a perfect place to finish the day. I had the “Martha Washington Style Colonial Turkey Pot Pie” It was really good. It was baked in a pewter dish and had a flaky crust. The wait staff were all dressed in 18th century clothing and the tour guide from the “Free Quaker Meeting House Museum” stopped by to say “hi”.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was dark. Shirley came up to my room to see the lights and we chatted for a bit before she headed home.

My adventures for Sunday are detailed here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my trip. Now to print all those pictures and scrap them!!!


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