Lights of Liberty

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kjlouden on August 20, 2005

A blimey rascal seems to be breathing down my neck. As he chuckles menacingly, hissing threats in my ear in three-dimensional sound, he’s a little spooky! Realistic? So it seems--so realistic that it can be distracting, a little too engaging. I have to remember to look up at the light images projected on the sides of historic buildings. Narration by Walter Cronkite, Charlton Heston, Ossie Davis, and Whoopi Goldberg is accompanied by sound effects produced at Skywalker Sound. The musical score is played by the Philadelphia Orchestra. It’s the first ambulatory production of its kind.

We get large, padded headphones, check the gift shop, and meet our group at PECO Energy Liberty Center (corner of 6th and Chestnut in the Public Ledger Building).

A slew of guides walk with us to make sure we pace ourselves accurately and don’t get ahead of the narration. We are the first tour of the evening, scheduled at 8:20pm, just at dusk. Feeling a little top-heavy in our huge headphones, we walk through Franklin Court, Independence Park, and several squares and streets in the Historic District as we witness, firsthand, so to speak, events leading up to and including the Revolution.

We begin at Franklin Court. I’m not used to all the commotion yet, and I have to adjust my headphone volume. With this, I miss some narration, but catch enough to know that the jeering voices I hear are in an uproar over the Stamp Act. We proceed to Carpenters’ Hall, where we eavesdrop on the First Continental Congress and then a political rally outside Second Bank, where George Washington is about to depart for command of the Continental Army. Ben Franklin returns from England and has some Revolutionary sentiment to impart to a gathering mob--us! I don’t believe any of the images we see move. Ben just stands there stock still at the top of the stairs.

In a woodsy area, three video screens display images of a battle. Soldiers fire at us from front and back. Alongside the walk is an overturned wagon with blue smoke billowing up from it.

We end the tour at Independence Hall, lit up with various hues while patriotic music celebrates the birth of a nation. It’s pretty moving to an American, and the whole show is available in other languages, too: Spanish, Japanese, German, and Italian. More here.

We call 1-877-GO-2-1776 almost two weeks ahead to reserve our spots. PECO Energy offers several sessions at 15-minute intervals beginning at dusk, Tuesdays through Saturdays until Labor Day and Thursdays through Saturdays through October. Even as early as we call, only one show is available for the evening we want--Friday, so that we can leave the next evening open for the Candlelight Walking Tour of Society Hill, offered only on Saturdays. If, like us, you are hell-bent on cramming your Philly weekend with maximum distance, then you may want to book these evening walks and conserve your days for museums.

Lights of Liberty
600 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19106
(215) 542-3789

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