This was my first time I’ve ever step foot in Philadelphia, and this is simply a compilation of my observations and experience on a short little side trip there.
My friend and I weren’t originally even going to stop in Philadelphia. We were simply going to pass through Philly on the way from Washington DC to New York City. We remembered an old friend that moved out to Philadelphia from California a few years ago and made contact with him. He offered to show us around for a day if we wanted to stay the night in Philly. On my friend’s recommendation, we booked a room at the Four Points by Sheraton Philadelphia City Center. For minimal cost, we changed our Amtrak tickets from Washington DC to NYC to allow us to spend the night in Philly.
Our old friend met us in the Reading Terminal Market, which was a really good choice, as it introduced me to Pennsylvania Dutch food. After a meal at the Reading Terminal Market, we took a quick walk over to the Independence National Historic Park area. We saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and wandered around the area a bit to look at the sights.
It's suprisingly easy to get around the parts of Philadelphia we visited. The city doesn't seem all that far to walk around. There's also SEPTA, the public transit district which includes the subway and buses, which helped us get around.
From what we saw, it seems that a good portion of Philadelphia’s celebrated history is about William Penn and Benjamin Franklin. We visited Benjamin Franklin’s grave at the Christ Church Burial Ground at the corner of Arch and 5th Streets. We walked by Betsy Ross’ house, and some other historical sites. It’s interesting to me how there are a good number of historic buildings and places of historical significance integrated with more modern buildings in Philadelphia’s cityscape.
The next morning, after a good breakfast at Reading Terminal Market’s The Dutch Eating Place, we went to the US Mint for the free public tour. Problem is that we were not allowed to take cameras into the Mint, so one of us had to take the camera and wait outside while the other went in for the tour. In addition, cell phones must be turned off while inside the US Mint, so I had to stay around the area while waiting. During my time outside holding the camera, I visited both the National Constitution Center and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. The US Mint is across the street from the National Constitution Center, and the Fed is one street beyond that.
I realized the Fed was having a free exhibit, called "Money in Motion." I entered the front lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank and inquired about the Money in Motion exhibit. The exhibit is a limited time exhibit, and the Federal Reserve Bank building is normally not open to public access. Since this seemed like a unique opportunity, I decided to take advantage of it. The Federal Reserve Bank security is so much heavier than the US Mint. With all the armed guards, heavy concrete-filled planters, double security doors, sally ports which allow one person to pass at a time, and inch thick bulletproof glass, the Federal Reserve looks as if it’s set up to withstand an armed assault. There was no photography allowed inside, and it simply looks like a modern office building with a large atrium in the middle. The Money in Motion exhibit was off to the side of the lobby, and largely unimpressive as far as side. However, the Money in Motion exhibit was extremely educational about the job that the Federal Reserve does. There were displays of how money is controlled, how the Fed received new money from the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing and "monetizes" it, and how the Fed decommissions old currency and shreds it. The display attendant even gave me a packet of shredded $100 bills. After spending about 20 minutes with the interactive displays and learning quite a lot about the Federal Reserve Bank, I decided it was time to move on. I didn't submit an IgoUgo review of Money in Motion since it was a limited time event in the Federal Reserve Bank, which is a facility not normally allowing public access.
The National Constitution Center is a museum devoted to the US Constitution and the study and understanding of it. I wandered into the lobby and learned there is a $20 entry fee to see the exhibits. My friend called me shortly thereafter to let me know he had just finished his turn in the US Mint tour, so I had to leave the National Constitution Center. I wouldn’t have been worth it for me to spend $20 unless I knew how much time I would have in the museum exhibits there.
I’m a big history buff, and it’s just mindboggling how much history is intertwined into the landscape and history of Philadelphia, and how important the city is to US History. I wish I had more time to explore around Philly. My experience in Philadelphia is limited to the day we spent around the Independence Park and Reading Terminal Market area. But from what I’ve seen there, I like it in Philadelphia, and I’m going to be returning in the future.