In 2015, Alex and I spent one of our vacation days in Philadelphia. We didn’t get much of the traditional sightseeing done — we didn’t go on the Independence Hall tour or anything like that — we mostly spent time walking around the Central City with a couple that we are friends with.
Before we met up with them, we did get a chance to see the Liberty Bell. There was one notable difference from my 1988 visit. The area near the Liberty Bell Center is where George and Martha Washington lived. And the entrance to the Center itself is above the slave quarters. Because of this, the entrance to the Liberty Bell Center now has an area dedicated to Washington’s slaves, with special mention of Oney Judge, who escaped from Philadelphia and lived out the rest of her life as a fugitive in New Hampshire.
You see, George and Martha Washington had two sets of slaves. There were slaves that George owned and there were slaves that came from Martha’s first marriage, to Daniel Custis. The slaves that had belonged to George and Martha personally were freed a few years after George’s death. Judge, however had been from that first marriage, and the law forbade Martha from freeing the slaves that came from that first marriage. As a result, for the rest of her life, Judge “belonged to” the heirs of Daniel Custis.
The Liberty Bell was pretty much what one would expect. A bell with a inexpertly mended crack in it. But it’s important in the scheme of American history (which will be the history course for Alex’s junior year of high school, so it is worth the photo op). In keeping with the current social climate, lots of people were taking selfies with the bell.
After a bit of confusion as to which side of Independence Hall was the front, we met up with our friends, and spent the rest of the day with them. We went to lunch at Reading Terminal. We ate outside, which is a long tradition with us when we eat together. I can only recall one or two times that we’ve eaten indoors.
Then we wandered around the Central City, with a stop at Spruce Street Harbor Park where we sat and talked for a while. Alex took pictures of the ships that were docked in the harbor. We also had water ices; Alex liked his so much that he bought a second one.
We walked around the center city some more after the park and on the way back to 30th Street Station, we stopped at Washington Square Park, which was home to one of the moon trees, a sycamore. The original tree died and a new tree, a clone of the original, was planted in its place. It was reading up on Washington Square Park that led to my earlier post on moon trees.
I took a few photos of 30th Street Station while we waited for our train. I love trains, and I love a beautiful train station. And the 30th Street Station has a lot to recommend it. I liked the chandeliers and the tall windows best (as evidenced by the picture below):
It was wonderful seeing our friends again and seeing their new home. And the things we saw during our day in Philadelphia made me wish that we’d had more time to spend.