philadelphia

All posts tagged philadelphia

I’m done with my big 2016 trips, so back to 1988.

I am kind of embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t really into history at this point in my life, so the thing that is causing me to stop and research rather than writing didn’t even register to me back then. Christ Church is the church that a number of prominent Philadelphians, including Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, George Washington (once he was president), John Adams (likewise), and William Penn all worshiped here.

One problem, though. Ross and Penn were Quakers.

So here I am, trying to figure out why a bunch of Quakers were worshiping in an Anglican church. So far, I’ve been able to determine that Betsy Ross’s husband, John, was Anglican, and so she got expelled from the Quakers for marrying a non-Quaker. During the American Revolution, the Quaker meeting in Philadelphia splintered into two groups, one that believed that sticking to their pacifism was important, and one that believed that the revolution was a just war and that they had a duty to support it. Betsy was able to join this second group of Quakers, who dubbed themselves the Free Quakers.

William Penn is the real poser, though. He founded Pennsylvania because he was a Quaker. Quakers were outlawed in England and so he found Pennsylvania to be a place where Quakers would be free to practice their religion. So then he moved here and promptly started attending an Anglican church? It just doesn’t add up. Maybe the Quakers met at Christ Church (the Arch Street Friends meetinghouse wasn’t built until 1804)? I have a coworker who’s from Pennsylvania. Maybe she knows. I’ll try to remember to ask her.

So I did ask my coworker and she didn’t know that William Penn had attended an Anglican church, so that’s a dead end. I guess we’ll just have to leave that as a head-scratcher. If I ever do find an answer, I’ll let y’all know.

After we left the church, we wandered around in the Burial Ground for a while. The website for the church says that there are currently 1,400 markers and that over 5,000 have disappeared. So this little burial ground, just two acres in area, contains over 6,000 graves.

Next up: Fairmount Park, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and the realization that I need to dig out that photo album and rescan the final five pictures.

I started writing this, thinking that Independence Hall would have been our first stop once we got our bearings, but apparently we went to Christ Church first.  I considered bumping this back and running Christ Church first, but that puts this post as launching after we get back from Utah/Montana/Wyoming/Colorado, and I really need to queue up the posts for when we’re gone first. By the way, assuming that our flight out goes as planned, as you read this, Alex and I are in a rental car driving from our hotel in Montana to Dinosaur National Monument.

Alex and I didn’t get to Independence Hall in 2015. After the debacle of getting to Rome in 2014 caused us to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 (you’ll hear the whole story later, but for now, bad weather caused us to miss our connection out of Atlanta, which put us into Rome 10 hours late.  Unfortunately, I’d only booked the train tickets about six hours after our plane was due to land, so we missed the train (with nonrefundable tickets) by four hours), I hesitated to book too much in advance on the 2015 trip. Even buying the train tickets to Philadelphia made me nervous, and that part of the trip was planned for the Saturday of a trip that started on a Tuesday. Long story short, we walked around Independence Hall and I gave Alex the $0.05 lecture on the significance of the building, but we never actually got inside.

Fortunately, I have gotten into Independence Hall. I cannot remember if we got our tickets ahead of time or not, but I suspect we didn’t. This was the days before everyone had Web access in their homes. I do remember that we bought our Statue of Liberty tickets the morning of the trip out to Liberty Island, so we probably picked up the Independence Hall tickets the same day as that tour, as well.

For those not in the United States (or for those in the United States who have forgotten their United States history), Independence Hall stands in Independence National Historical Park, which also includes (but is not limited to) other sites such as the Liberty Bell Center, the First and Second United States Banks, and the President’s House, the archaeological site of the presidential mansion from the final years of the presidency of George Washington and the early years of the presidency of John Adams. The President’s House, which was excavated in the early 21st Century (and thus we may have walked right over it without knowing it in 1988), is also a monument to the African-Americans who lived in enslaved conditions in colonial days. Particular focus is put on Oney Judge, who had been “on loan” to George Washington and who escaped from the President’s House on May 21, 1796.

Independence Hall was the first capitol building of the United States of America. It served as the meeting place for the Continental Congress.  The building is probably most famous for being the site where the Declaration of Independence was signed, though it is also where the Constitutional Convention was held.  Originally, the founders passed something called the Articles of Confederation, which lasted for about eight years.  When their first attempt turned out to be a big failure, Congress reconvened and passed a whole new set of laws providing for a whole new arrangement for the government, and that is the constitution that the United States of America has today.

Independence Hall has changed much over the intervening centuries.  They added a clock to the side of the building, then removed the clock, then put the clock back up.  They apparently completely gutted the building at one point. The interior that we have today is relatively recent — the National Park Service did a major renovation on the building when they took it over. The project took from 1951 until 1973. I’m looking for pictures of what the building looked like prior to the renovation. I have a horrible thought that it might have had one of those drop ceilings with the foam acoustic tiles, but perhaps since the renovation started in 1951, the building was spared that indignity, at least.

Independence Hall, 1988

Independence Hall, 1988. You can’t see it, but the Centennial Bell (in the steeple) was ringing as I took this picture).

We stayed in a hotel close to Independence Hall while we were in Philadelphia, and so I got used to hearing the Centennial Bell ringing. Knowing that it would be the last time I’d hear that sound for quite a while (it ended up being, what? 27 years?), I took the above picture as it rang on our last day there.

On the tour, they talked about the history of the building, including the renovations.  It’s still neat, though, to stand in the building where such important stuff happened. And sure, you’re not standing in exactly the same place as the founders stood when they did their founding, but at least you’re looking out the same windows?

Philadelphia is home to a lot of firsts for the United States.  It was the location of the first brick house built in North America, it was the first home for the Quaker and Presbyterian denominations, it was the site of the first public library (which was founded by Benjamin Franklin), it was where the first American flag was made, and it was, of course, the first capital of the United States.

Philadelphia was also home to the first commodities exchange in the United States. A commodities exchange is kind of like a stock exchange, except instead of ownership in companies, commodities exchanges are a place where you buy and sell things. These things have traditionally been agricultural in nature, coffee, pork bellies, and so forth, but they can also be industrial, such as oil and metal. As an aside, Chicago has a famous commodities exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the Board of Trade building is just lovely. Remind me to get some pictures while I’m in Chicago in August.

But I digress. The first commodities exchange in the United States, which, as I said before, was in Philadelphia, was known as the Bourse. The Bourse was founded in 1891 and the building (the first steel-framed building ever constructed) was finished in 1895. After the exchange went out of business in the 1960s, the building was converted into office space, and then the first floors were turned into a shopping mall.

The Bourse, Philadelphia

The Bourse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1988

I’m not even sure why we went in, but it was a nice place to sit down and get our bearings. I think we got something to eat there, but cannot be sure. They were having a display of costumes from that year’s Mummer’s Parade (the oldest folk festival in the United States), and my mom took some pictures of the interior, but they all turned out really dark and I don’t have the time or energy to make them look professional, so above is a picture showing more or less what the front of the building looks like.

I also didn’t remember, until my 2015 visit, that the Bourse was right there on Independence Mall, down the street from Independence Hall (it’s almost like poetry!) and across from where the Liberty Bell Center is now (more-or-less kitty-corner from where the Liberty Bell Pavilion was back in 1988).

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.

The Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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):

30th Street Station

Chandeliers and windows at 30th Street Station, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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.

I know that’s not much of a subject line, but I’m not sure what else to call this post.

I grew up in the Chicago area, so I was surrounded by public transportation, trains in particular, growing up.  Chicago has what was originally a lot of different commuter rail lines.  In 1974, these different lines joined into the Regional Transportation Authority (“RTA”).  In 1984, the RTA was put under the control of the Commuter Rail Service Board, which was rebranded as “the Metropolitan Rail Corporation” (“Metra” for short).  For just about as long as I can remember, every time my mom and I went into the city together, we took the train.  It took longer for this to catch on with my dad, who drove on all of our trips into the city until I was a teenager.

Once I reached adulthood, the only time I drove into the city was when I had to go someplace that required a car either before or directly afterwards.  And since I worked in the city five days a week for two years, that’s a lot of train trips.

And yet, I have not tired of it yet.  I know people who feel that a car gives them some kind of freedom, but that has never made sense to me, except when it comes to places that are “car dependent,” like my neighborhood in San Antonio.  Being trapped behind the wheel of a car, unable to get anything else done, or even really enjoy the place I am in because I’m too busy watching my speed and where I’m going, has never really felt like freedom to me.  Being stuck in traffic has definitely never felt like freedom to me.

The first time my family and I took public transportation on a vacation was probably our trip to Washington DC.  We stayed in the suburbs and took the Metro into the city proper to do our sightseeing.  The next year, we followed that up with the Metro of Montreal, Canada, and then eight years after that, we went to New York City, though we only took the bus once or twice on that trip.  All of our other trips were to car-dependent places, and so that was the total of our public transportation travel during the years before my marriage.

My now-ex-inlaws were not big on public transportation; they drove into the city every time they went (which, if I recall, was not nearly as often as my family and I went). My now-ex was dubious at first, but soon saw how much more convenient the train was when it came to going into the city.  When traveling, however, we still rented a car on most trips even if public transportation was plentiful at our destination.  The only trip I can recall where we did not rent a car was our long weekend in Toronto.  We took a shuttle between the airport and the hotel and got around on our feet or by trolley (and, on one occasion, by subway) the rest of the time.

Our 2002 trip to the UK was both a rental car trip and a public transportation trip.  We used a rental car for the first week and a half of the trip, but when we arrived in London, we parked the car and just left it in the garage until we were ready to go back to the airport.  While we were in London, we took the London Underground anywhere that was too far to walk and then we took a day trip to Paris on the Eurostar train through the Chunnel.

Once my now-ex and I split up, my son and I started planning trips.  Together, my son and I have taken Metra in Chicago, the Metro in Washington DC, four different kinds of trains in Italy, and Amtrak between, and the subways of, both New York City and Philadelphia.  For our Italy and New York/Philadelphia trips, we didn’t even rent a car at all.

I will, of course, go into more detail on the systems we traveled on (to the extent I remember the Montreal Metro; fortunately, I have done most of the rest of it (sometimes again) as an adult and can remember the others better) in future posts.  This is just, on some level, me trying to remember all of the different transportation systems I have used in my life so that they are fresher in my mind when I get to those trips under My Travel Memories.  At the rate I am going, I may well end up recapping my 2014 rail experiences in Italy and then following up almost immediately with recaps of my 2017 experiences with rail travel in Germany.

My son and I are out the door for our annual vacation in just about 72 hours.  We’re going to New York City with a day trip to Philadelphia.

Why New York?  When I was a kid I always wanted to visit New York and in 1988 when I was starting to date my now-ex, my folks finally agreed to go.  We had a fantastic time and I’ve always wanted to go back.

Fast-forward to my son and my 2013 vacation to North Carolina.  We rented a car and drove through the Smoky Mountains and the Outer Banks.  I’m not a huge fan of driving at the best of times and driving in places that I am unfamiliar with makes me really nervous.  Nearly all of that vacation was driving in unfamiliar places.  As a result, we were both so stressed out from some of the driving that I told my son I needed a couple of years off from rental cars.  In 2014, we went to Rome and Naples and pretty much took public transportation or walked everywhere (we took a cab a few times as well).  Then, for 2015, I needed someplace else we could go where we wouldn’t need a rental car.  I asked a dear friend who grew up in the New York City area if she would recommend New York City as a vacation destination and she said of course she would.  So when the time came (about six months ago), we started planning for New York.

Now, in the next 72 hours I have to pack, clean my bathroom, clean my bedroom, do all of my laundry, and board my cat.  I don’t have to do much other cleaning because my dad will be home.  We invite him every year and every year he refuses to go.  We’re boarding the cat because my dad and the cat don’t get along and I will be more relaxed knowing that they’re out of each others’ hair (or fur, as the case may be).  I’ve gotten a start on those first two, and am about to start on the third.  I’ll do most of the fourth on Sunday and that last item has to wait until Monday.