Essential Places To Visit In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Here are the essential places to visit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The selection is made using the FavRiver scoring system which takes into account the most relevant metrics and expert reviews.
Last update : Jul 04, 2019
1University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence and the first institution of higher learning in the United States to refer to itself as a university. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.
The University of Pennsylvania is home to many professional and graduate schools, including the first school of medicine in North America (Perelman School of Medicine, 1765), the first collegiate business school (Wharton School, 1881) and the first "student union" building and organization (Houston Hall, 1896).
The university has four undergraduate schools which provide a combined 99 undergraduate majors in the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, business, and engineering, as well twelve graduate and professional schools. It also provides the option to pursue specialized dual degree programs. Undergraduate admissions is highly competitive, with an acceptance rate of 7.44% for the class of 2023, and the school is ranked as the 8th best university in the United States by the U.S. News & World Report. In athletics, the Quakers field varsity teams in 33 sports as a member of the NCAA Division I Ivy League conference and hold a total of 210 Ivy League championships as of 2017. In 2018, the university had an endowment of $13.8 billion, the seventh largest endowment of all colleges in the United States, as well as an academic research budget of $966 million.
As of 2018, distinguished alumni include 14 heads of state, 64 billionaire alumni; 3 United States Supreme Court justices; 33 United States Senators, 44 United States Governors and 159 members of the U.S. House of Representatives; 8 signers of the United States Declaration of Independence; 12 signers of the United States Constitution, 24 members of the Continental Congress, and two presidents of the United States, including the current president. They have also founded a large number of companies worldwide. Other notable alumni include 27 Rhodes Scholars, 15 Marshall Scholarship recipients, 16 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 48 Fulbright Scholars. In addition, some 35 Nobel laureates, 169 Guggenheim Fellows, 80 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and many Fortune 500 CEOs have been affiliated with the university.
University of Pennsylvania
2Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American independence, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Once placed in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House (now renamed Independence Hall), the bell today is located in the Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historical Park. The bell was commissioned in 1752 by the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly from the London firm of Lester and Pack (known subsequently as the Whitechapel Bell Foundry), and was cast with the lettering "Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof", a Biblical reference from the Book of Leviticus (25:10). The bell first cracked when rung after its arrival in Philadelphia, and was twice recast by local workmen John Pass and John Stow, whose last names appear on the bell. In its early years, the bell was used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and to alert citizens about public meetings and proclamations.
Although no immediate announcement was made of the Second Continental Congress's vote for independence - and so the bell could not have rung on July 4, 1776, related to that vote - bells were rung on July 8 to mark the reading of the United States Declaration of Independence. While there is no contemporary account of the Liberty Bell ringing, most historians believe it was one of the bells rung. After American independence was secured, the bell fell into relative obscurity until, in the 1830s, the bell was adopted as a symbol by abolitionist societies, who d믭 it the "Liberty Bell".
The bell acquired its distinctive large crack some time in the early 19th century — a widespread story claims it cracked while ringing after the death of Chief Justice John Marshall in 1835. The bell became famous after an 1847 short story claimed that an aged bellringer rang it on July 4, 1776, upon hearing of the Second Continental Congress' vote for independence. Despite the fact that the bell did not ring for independence on that July 4, the tale was widely accepted as fact, even by some historians. Beginning in 1885, the city of Philadelphia -which owns the bell - allowed it to go to various expositions and patriotic gatherings. The bell attracted huge crowds wherever it went, additional cracking occurred, and pieces were chipped away by souvenir hunters. The last such journey occurred in 1915, after which the city refused further requests.
After World War II, Philadelphia allowed the National Park Service to take custody of the bell, while retaining ownership. The bell was used as a symbol of freedom during the Cold War and was a popular site for protests in the 1960s. It was moved from its longtime home in Independence Hall to a nearby glass pavilion on Independence Mall in 1976, and then to the larger Liberty Bell Center adjacent to the pavilion in 2003. The bell has been featured on coins and stamps, and its name and image have been widely used by corporations.
Liberty Bell
3Eastern State Penitentiary
The Eastern State Penitentiary, also known as ESP, is a former American prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is located at 2027 Fairmount Avenue between Corinthian Avenue and North 22nd Street in the Fairmount section of the city, and was operational from 1829 until 1971. The penitentiary refined the revolutionary system of separate incarceration first pioneered at the Walnut Street Jail which emphasized principles of reform rather than punishment.
Notorious criminals such as Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton were held inside its innovative wagon wheel design. James Bruno (Big Joe) and several male relatives were incarcerated here between 1936 and 1948 for the alleged murders in the Kelayres massacre of 1934, before they were paroled. At its completion, the building was the largest and most expensive public structure ever erected in the United States, and quickly became a model for more than 300 prisons worldwide.
The prison is currently a U.S. National Historic Landmark, which is open to the public as a museum for tours seven days a week, twelve months a year, 10 am to 5 pm.
Eastern State Penitentiary
4Independence Hall
Independence Hall is the building where both the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted. It is now the centerpiece of the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The building was completed in 1753 as the Pennsylvania State House, and served as the capitol for the Province and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania until the state capital moved to Lancaster in 1799. It became the principal meeting place of the Second Continental Congress from 1775 to 1783 and was the site of the Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787.
A convention held in Independence Hall in 1915, presided over by former US president William Howard Taft, marked the formal announcement of the formation of the League to Enforce Peace, which led to the League of Nations and eventually the United Nations. The building is part of Independence National Historical Park and is listed as a World Heritage Site.
Independence Hall
5Rocky Steps
The 72 stone steps before the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have become known as the "Rocky Steps" as a result of the scene from the film Rocky. Tourists often mimic Rocky's famous climb, a metaphor for an underdog or an everyman rising to a challenge. A bronze Rocky statue was briefly situated at the top of the steps for the filming of Rocky III. This statue, now located at the bottom right of the steps, is a popular photo opportunity for visitors. The top of the steps offers a commanding view of Eakins Oval, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and Philadelphia City Hall.
In 2006, Rocky creator Sylvester Stallone recounted the genesis of the iconic scene: (while filming the 1976 movie) the film crew, bound by a tight budget, identified the steps one night while searching for filming locations around the city. Stallone first thought Rocky should carry his dog Butkus up the steps, but the big bull mastiff proved too heavy for the scene to work. Still, the view from the top of the stairs inspired him to reshoot the scene without the dog. Also in Rocky Balboa, Rocky lifts his dog Punchy when he reaches the top of the steps. The closing credits of Rocky Balboa show a montage of dozens of people running up the steps.
This scene was one of the first uses in a major film of the Steadicam, a stabilized camera mount that allows its operator to walk and even climb steps while smoothly filming.
Rocky Steps
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