Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the 5th most populous in the United States, with an estimated population of 1,560,297 in 2014. In the Northeastern United States, at the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, Philadelphia is the economic and cultural anchor of the Delaware Valley, a metropolitan area home to 7.2 million people and the 8th largest combined statistical area in the United States. In 1682, William Penn founded the city to serve as capital of the Pennsylvania Colony. Philadelphia played an instrumental role in the American Revolution as a meeting place for the Founding Fathers of the United States, who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Constitution in 1787. Philadelphia was one of the nation's capitals in the Revolutionary War, and served as temporary U.S. capital while Washington, D.C., was under construction. In the 19th century, Philadelphia became a major industrial center and railroad hub that grew from an influx of European immigrants. It became a prime destination for African-Americans in the Great Migration and surpassed 2 million occupants by 1950. The area's many universities and colleges make Philadelphia a top international study destination, as the city has evolved into an educational and economic hub. With a gross domestic product of $388 billion, Philadelphia ranks 9th among world cities and 4th in the nation. Philadelphia is the center of economic activity in Pennsylvania and is home to seven Fortune 1000 companies. The Philadelphia skyline is growing, with several nationally prominent skyscrapers. The city is known for its arts, culture, and history, attracting over 39 million domestic tourists in 2013. Philadelphia has more outdoor sculptures and murals than any other American city. And Fairmount Park is the largest landscaped urban park in the world. The 67 National Historic Landmarks in the city helped account for the $10 billion generated by tourism. Philadelphia is the birthplace of the United States Marine Corps, and is also the home of many U.S. firsts, including the first library (1731), first hospital (1751) first medical school (1765), first Capitol (1777), first stock exchange (1790), first zoo (1874) and first business school (1881). Philadelphia is the only World Heritage City in the United States.
This was another "first" for me...my first visit to Philadelphia...the "City of Brotherly Love"! I didn't get to spend much time in Philly because I underestimated its distance from Pittsburgh. I didn't realize it was a whopping 4 hours away. One exciting part about my adventure though, was being on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and realizing that I was about to go through the Allegheny Mountains. When I approached the entrance into the mountains, I had to pull over to get the shot! And like I tell my fellow photographers... you can't see this stuff from an airplane! On to Philadelphia! Once I get into Philly, and out of the mid-day rush hour traffic, I work my way into downtown. I find a parking garage on Independence Mall East and begin exploring Philadelphia. My first photo was of the National Museum of American Jewish History and Moses Jacob Ezekiel's "Religious Liberty" statue out front. I loved the architecture of this building and was very impressed. Walking up Market Street, I stopped at the Philadelphia bikeshare bicycle rack and noticed the huge Wells Fargo Bank building up above. The way the sun hit the building gave a nice glow that I had to capture. As I head across the street towards Independence Hall, I photograph a marble plaque reading of The First Amendment To The U.S. Constitution. My next stop was photographing Independence Hall, the clock tower and the George Washington statue out front. Next to the statue were John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln historic plaques that had everyone reading. Before leaving this area, I glance over at the Liberty Bell Center and noticed that the line was down the building sidewalk towards the street...I'll come back later.
After hanging out in the Independence Hall area, I head down Chestnut Street and check out the old Philadelphia Bank Building, which is now "The Bank Building Residences at the Omni" hotel. Across the street in the Signer's Garden stands "The Signer" statue, which is a memorial to the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Heading towards 7th Street, I pass by a couple of historic plaques that were very interesting to read...things they never taught you in school. 7th Street also brings me to the Declaration House, which is the site where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. As you walk through the door, there is a huge replica of the Declaration of Independence on the wall to read. I spend a bit of time there, then head up the street to The African American Museum In Philadelphia. They were closed, but I photographed the "Whispering Bells of Freedom" as well as the honorary plaque dedicated to Crispus Attucks, who was the first person killed in the Boston Massacre in Boston, Massachusetts, and is widely considered to be the first American casualty in the American Revolutionary War. Crispus Attucks was also black. While walking past the First Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, I stop at the National Constitution Center. This is another building whose architecture caught my attention. And etched on a side wall is the preamble to the United States Constitution. One thing's for sure, Philadelphia is definitely reminding me of Washington, D.C....so much history within blocks of each other. Before leaving the National Constitution Center, I capture another photo of Independence Hall from the Independence Mall on Arch Street. Still on Arch Street, I head towards Independence Mall East to the United States Mint. I already knew photography wasn't allowed inside, so I didn't take this tour. After leaving the U.S. Mint, I walk across the street to the last resting place of Benjamin Franklin...Christ Church Burial Ground. It was kinda creepy walking around the cemetery, but it was kinda cool seeing Mr. Franklin's burial site. Speaking of Mr. Franklin, my next stop was the Benjamin Franklin Museum on Chestnut Street. I also photographed James Peniston's "Keys To Community" bust of Benjamin Franklin at Girard Fountain Park. The U.S. Postal Service Museum was cool, too! When I visited The Philadelphia Fire Department's Engine 8, Ladder 2 station, I found out that it is a direct descendant of Benjamin Franklin's Union Fire Company. Benjamin Franklin is all over this city!
It's getting late, and my time in Philadelphia is winding down, and I only have a few more places to go. But I couldn't leave without stopping at the Betsy Ross House. This is the house that Betsy Ross is supposed to have sewn the very first United States flag. However, that piece of history has been disputed, but it's still a nice place to visit. There's also a replica flag on the side of the house. Heading back to my car, I past Fox Television and the Philadelphia Business Journal building. But before getting into the car, I look up the street to see that the line to see the Liberty Bell is further than before. So I guess I won't see it on this trip. Next stop...Chinatown! Once in Chinatown, I just walked through a couple of blocks because it was soooo crowded. But I did find my way to the Chinatown Friendship Gate. I photographed the Gate and the Fo Shou Temple. There was a pretty cool dragon mural at the Philadelphia Fire Department's Engine Company 20, Ladder 23, Medic 1 Station wall. I leave Chinatown for my next-to-last stop...the Philadelphia Museum of Art, more famously known for having the "Rocky stairs". And for those who don't know, Sylvester Stallone ran up the museum stairs during a training scene in the movie "Rocky". Once I got there, there were people running up and down the stairs just to say they did it. And some were doing it as a form of exercise. Now I have to admit, I didn't run up the stairs, but I did walk. And walking up those stairs was just as bad...I was still tired! Once I got to the top, I took in the sweeping view of downtown and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. I did photograph a few statues while there as well: Jacques Lipchitz's "Prometheus Strangling The Vulture", Robert Indiana's "AMOR", Emmanuel Fremiet's "Joan Of Arc", Khoren Der Harootian's "Meher" Armenian Memorial and A. Thomas Schomberg's "Rocky" statue. My last stop of the day was to visit Temple University. This visit was not only my personal honor to Bill Cosby, but also to visit another historic college during my travels. I didn't spend too much time at Temple because there was a lot of construction going on, and as with The University of Pittsburgh, new students were enrolling and making their way to various halls and dorm residences. I did capture photos of Conwell Hall, The Baptist Temple, Alumni Circle, Temple bell tower and Founder's Garden. Founder's Garden is the burial place of Russell Conwell, founder and 38-year President of Temple University. A bust of Conwell marks his grave.
Well, my time is up in the "City of Brotherly Love". And doing things the way I know I can, I don't feel I did this city any justice. There were a lot of attractions I missed such as government buildings, police cars, other schools and sports arenas. I didn't even make it to the Riverfront to capture the skyline. But as with Pittsburgh, Philadelphia will be added to my "return to" city. I will definitely go back to finish what I started!