The Room Where it Happened
One of the few joys our family got to experience in 2020 was the release of Hamilton on Disney Plus. For a family of history nerds, the fun of the show really gave us something else to think about during times of quarantine and lockdown. It provided a whole new reason to learn about our founding fathers.
Now that my wife and I have been vaccinated and the restrictions surrounding the pandemic have lessened, we’ve had the opportunity recently to visit Philadelphia and many of the locations where our nation was built. At the time of the American Revolution, Philadelphia was the largest city in the colonies. That, coupled with its central location, made it an excellent spot for the Continental Congress.
Our youngest daughter, Lauren, recently had her final dance competition of the year in Lancaster, Pa. We took the opportunity to travel a little further and spend a day in the City of Brotherly Love. While some Covid-19 restrictions remained, we had a great opportunity to view the sites.
Independence National Historical Park is a part of the National Park Service. There you can see and tour Independence Hall. Independence Hall is where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and signed! It was an amazing opportunity to be in the very room where the debates that would build the foundation of our nation were had. To think that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and others walked those very halls, looked out those windows and made the decisions that shaped our nation was thrilling.
The Independence Square grounds also include Congress Hall. Congress Hall is where the House of Representatives and Senate sat from 1790 to 1800. It is where George Washington and John Adams were inaugurated. It was in Congress Hall where Thomas Jefferson announced to Congress that the Bill of Rights had been ratified by enough states to become part of our Constitution.
A short walk away from Congress and Independence Hall you can visit the Liberty Bell as well as the site of the original President’s House where George Washington and John Adams lived as president of the new nation. Nearby you can also first Christ Church Burial Ground and the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin.
The National Constitutional Center is also located on Independence Mall. There, museum exhibits brought to life the Reconstruction era Constitutional Amendments and the Women’s Suffrage movements, which finally started to bring life to the idea that Constitutional freedoms and rights applied to all Americans. The Constitutional Center also included a special treat: Signers’ Hall. Signers’ Hall houses 42 life-size bronze statutes of the Founding Fathers from the Constitutional Convention. It was there that my daughters had the chance to take their picture with the man who had taken so much of their attention the last year, Alexander Hamilton!
Independence National Historical Park is a wonderful site to visit. Additional landmarks in the area include Declaration House, which is a recreation of the home where Thomas Jefferson resided as he wrote the Declaration of Independence, and Elfreth’s Alley, the nation’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street. The entire Independence historical area is relatively small, easily walkable and accessible from local hotels and well worth the time!
Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia is a great place for history lovers to visit. Jeremy McGraw explains.