Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Day Trip to Philadelphia

Philadelphia is the closest of the cities that Paul and I have wanted to visit since moving to New York six years ago, so of course it's one of the last to get marked off the list.

At less than two hours away, Philadelphia is an easy distance from Brooklyn. That's why we kept putting it off -- we can go anytime, we thought. We just didn't.

Actually, I did. I visited Philadelphia for a weekend last summer in a reunion with two of my college roommates. But not only was it about a million degrees, but I was 4 1/2 months pregnant. We didn't do much wandering around or sightseeing, instead blessedly sticking to air-conditioned buildings and buses. I had also been to the city 13 years ago with my family, but only for a single afternoon.

I was barely in Philadelphia longer this time around -- 13 hours, including the car ride there and back. And since this past Sunday was Paul's first visit there, we concentrated on his interests. Namely, history.

One of the top spots on Paul's list was a trip to Independence Hall. According to the National Park Service:

It was in the Assembly Room of this building that George Washington was appointed commander in chief of the Continental Army in 1775 and the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. In the same room the design of the American flag was agreed upon in 1777, the Articles of Confederation were adopted in 1781, and the U. S. Constitution was drafted in 1787. 

Visitors need free timed tickets to visit, and my friend Sarah who lives in Philadelphia (and the same friend I visited there last year), was kind enough to pick them up for us that morning. The tour was both thorough and interesting ... according to Paul. As one of the rangers joked to me as I took a fussy Edith out of the Assembly Room, Edith just doesn't care for history yet.

Independence Hall

Copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are in an adjacent building. we walked right in-- no wait. The stop was worth it if only for this anecdote told by the ranger on duty:

Only about two dozen copies of the Declaration of Independence are known to exist. One of the most recent to be found was actually at a Pennsylvania flea market. A buyer there didn't care for a portrait he saw but liked the frame. He purchased it for $4. He removed the portrait, and I'm sure you can guess what was underneath. He later sold his copy of the Declaration for $2.5 million.

I should go to more flea markets.

The next stop was half a block away: the Liberty Bell. Then, a few blocks away, the Betsy Ross House, where Sarah took a nice family portrait, though we didn't go inside.

Liberty Bell, with Independence Hall in the background

After lunch at Reading Terminal Market (more about the food of Philadelphia on Friday), we said goodbye to Sarah. Paul, Edith and I then walked to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We didn't want to go inside -- it was late in the afternoon and besides, I had already visited last summer -- but Paul wanted to see the Rocky statue.

Edith and me outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art

And besides, it was a pleasant stroll. We couldn't have asked for better weather. Just warm enough for long sleeves or a light jacket, but not both. Nary a cloud in the sky. I had seen Philadelphia's weather forecast early the week before, and that's when Paul and I decided to visit. We planned the trip in about four days.

We parked midway between the art museum and the historic district, underneath JFK Plaza, probably better known as the home of the Love sculpture. Or as I think of it, the Love thingy that used to be on a stamp. I had taken photos of it that morning before meeting Sarah.

The trip was certainly a whirlwind, but we had a great time seeing the sights, visiting with Sarah and proving to ourselves that maybe it's not too difficult taking a baby on a vacation -- or at least a mini one. And if I know Paul at all, I know it won't be too long before he tries his hardest to interest Edith in all of those historic sites, too.

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