The City That Loves You Back

I have no idea why Philadelphia was given this moniker, but how can you not love the city that loves you back?  I will say that there is something special about this city, though I really can't tell you what it is that makes it so special.  On the surface, it is just your average small city.  Or so I thought.  Did you know that Philadelphia is the 5th most populated city in America?  Neither did I.  And having been there now, I find that incredibly hard to believe because it feels really small.

So we continued our Philly adventures on Sunday morning with the hop on, hop off double-decker bus tour.

{ I learned my hair lesson with the humidity the night before. solution? topknot! }

I was pretty overwhelmed on the bus tour at all of the historic sights we were seeing, and in an effort to keep up, my photos are a bit hit and miss when it comes to quality.  I definitely have to give myself an A for effort, though.  It is important to note that while on this bus tour, we were literally getting smacked in the face with tree branches (why they don't trim them so the bus can fit through without harming anyone, I will never know...).

{ these two monuments are in dedication to those who fought in the civil war }

 { a closer view of one of the monuments }

{ Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul } 

{ infamous Rocky statue, aka a classic Philly sight. } 

These next two photos are a part of the city's "Your Move" art collection, which scatters over-sized popular game pieces across the plaza.  This is designed to juxtapose childhood memories with adult responsibilities. Can you spot the game pieces?  Which games do they belong to? 

{ Benjamin Franklin statue, sculpted by Philadelphia's own James Peniston as part of the Keys to the Community collection in the Old City. } 

{Betsy Ross' house, adorned with the flag she is credited with designing. } 

{ seriously lovely architecture here... I was constantly looking 'up!' } 

{ might seem strange to see a giant clothespin in the middle of the city, but it is known as The Kiss, resembling two people in an embrace. I think it's so cute when you look at it that way. } 

{ Philadelphia city hall, topped with the city's founder: William Penn. } 

{ Rocky fans rejoice!  Here are the steps he ran up in the movie, though our tour guide told us Stallone only did the last few steps, his stunt double did the rest. Really? Sigh... is it difficult to run up some steps? } 

{ classic Chinatown shot. Every metropolitan city's got one... } 

{ Elreth's Alley, known for being our nation's oldest residential street. And go figure, it is the same size as the streets in England! }

Our first "hop off" was at Eastern State Penitentiary.  I have to admit that I had never heard of the place and had no idea the history we would learn about while we were there.  Afterall, the concept for this prison was born in Benjamin Franklin's living room.  One inmate, one cell.  The idea being that isolation would give the prisoners time to reflect and think about their crimes, and ultimately show signs of penance for what they had done.

{ at the time, rumors flew that Al Capone was allowed to live in relative luxury during his stay here. } 

{ I don't know why, but I love this photo... } 

After our tour of living like an inmate (heat and all!), we stumbled on, what else? A London pub!  We decided it was a sign and that we were meant to have lunch there.

{ coincidentally the inside looked strikingly similar to a pub across the street from Big Ben in London. }

Next stop? Independence Hall!  I was so unbelievably excited to see this historic place and try to imagine all that had gone on inside those walls.

After much running around trying to figure out where to get tickets, we managed to find out that they were sold out for the day.  I say sold out in relative terms, because the tickets are actually free.  They just have to monitor how many folks they let in. Thus, the reason for the tickets.  

I was crushed that they were sold out, and just when I had given up hope, another ticket agent came over and told us that they had just had two cancellations if we wanted to go right now.  Did we?!  So we were off on our tour of Independence Hall. Oh how I love it when things work out...

{ is it just my imagination or is the sun shining directly on Independence Hall? }

{ the architecture inside is beautiful. }

{ known simply as the Assembly, or Signer's, Room, it was here that both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were drafted and signed. }

I couldn't get a clear picture of George Washington's famous "rising sun" chair, but that is it in the back center, where he presided over the Constitutional Convention.  James Madison's journal quotes Benjamin Franklin making a very inspiring quote about the sun seen on this chair, just as the final members were signing the Constitution.  It gave me goosebumps when I heard it.

"...Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. I have often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting.  But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun."

{ bottom left hand seat believed to be Benjamin Franklin's. }

{ I couldn't get a very clear picture, but this is the first printed copy of the Declaration of Independence.  This copy is actually a month older than the handwritten copy that is on display in our nation's capitol.  This one was read aloud in the square to the general public, announcing our independence. }

{ incredible to see this in person... words can't describe it.. } 

I think it is safe to say we were pleasantly overwhelmed by late afternoon and decided to retire to our air conditioned hotel room to relax a bit before heading out to dinner on restaurant row.

We had reservations at a very highly rated Spanish tapas restaurant, and I couldn't wait to try it out.

Unfortunately, I completely forgot about the art of photography when the delicious food was placed in front of me, because I only managed to photograph my drink (sangria, of course!) and dessert (there was nothing tapas-like about this dessert, let me tell you...).

I think I have successfully overwhelmed (and distracted!) you all enough for one day.  Tomorrow I will post about our final day touring around this great city, including the Constitution Center and Christ Church!

Stay tuned...

I think I speak for everyone when I say T.G.I.F., right?