on July 4, 2010
The Liberty Bell, America’s longstanding icon of liberty and justice, is located in the recently built Liberty Bell Center on Market Street, between 5th and 6th Streets. The Liberty Bell Center is part of the Independence National Historical Park, which also includes Independence Hall, just across the street. Tickets are not required, you simply have to wait in line at the door. There is no entry fee. There is the obligatory security screening with magnetometer and x-ray machines. The inside of the building is quite nice, a beautifully built concrete block structure with glass from top to bottom, letting in lots of natural sunlight. Once inside, there are rows and rows of displays showing the history of the Liberty Bell, from initial design, to construction, to when it was cracked, and all the way until today. They even have displays on the restoration of the Liberty Bell, including X-rays. One interesting fact that I didn’t realize was that it was cracked during testing at Independence Hall. The inside of the Liberty Bell Center is divided by a concrete block wall, behind which there are several open theaters playing short projection movies about the Liberty Bell. We learned that the Liberty Bell was rung to announce the gathering of the First Continental Congress in 1774, as well as other important events in Revolutionary War history such as the battles of Concord and Lexington. It was removed and sent away to prevent it from being destroyed upon threat of British assault upon Philadelphia in 1777, and returned to Independence Hall in 1778 when the British left. After the rows of displays about the Liberty Bell, is the room with the Liberty Bell itself on display. It’s in a tall room with a glass wall on the rear. Independence Hall is seen prominently through the glass wall, giving the Liberty Bell an appropriate backdrop. The Liberty Bell is situated in the middle of the room and is fenced off, with park rangers keeping watch and available to answer questions. It’s quite awe inspiring to see this symbol of liberty in person, and something our nation has cherished and kept protected for over 250 years. I spent some time viewing the inscriptions on the bell, as well as the details of the yoke and mounting of the bell. A lot of people were squatting down trying to see the underside of the Liberty Bell, especially the kids. After the Liberty Bell room is the exit, which takes you out near Chestnut Street.I definitely recommend visiting this piece of living history. The Liberty Bell could be viewed as a defective signaling device, but history judges it to be a significant inspiration to many as a symbol of liberty and freedom.
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