Spotlight on Philadelphia, PA, USA


            Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is another great American city which is loaded with history.  It was once the capital of the young United States. Its major attractions focus on colonial times in America (the mid to late 1700’s)

            Independence National Historical Park consists of the Liberty Bell Center, which houses one of America’s enduring symbols of freedom, Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and signed, and Benjamin Franklin’s home as well as a US Post Office which commemorates Franklin as the first Postmaster General, and numerous other buildings which help to chronicle this time period of American History.  The Visitor Center, at 6th and Market Streets provides information, a walking tour map of the Park, as well as a 30-minute film, “Independence”, shown continuously during the hours of operation.  Admission to Independence Hall is by guided tour only and timed tickets may be obtained at the Visitor Center as well. 

            A wonderful excursion from Philly is to Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania (about 30 miles/50 kilometers southwest of the city), located on an estate once owned by Pierre du Pont.  There are thousands of varieties of flowers and other plants as well as fountains and lakes on the grounds.  Extensive greenhouses make this a year-round attraction.  Summertime offers evening illuminations and music concerts. It certainly ranks as one of America’s, and perhaps the world’s, great gardens.

            Another great excursion from Philadelphia is Pennsylvania Dutch Country, the area around Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a place which allows visitors to experience a very different and unusual culture without leaving the USA.  The people who settled this region, primarily religious groups, such as the Amish and the Mennonites, depend primarily on farming and have continued their traditions and customs despite the incursions of modern society.  Many have shunned modern conveniences such as the automobile and electricity, yet they thrive, since their farms are efficient and productive.  There are numerous attractions in the area which offer glimpses into their lifestyle and culture.  Visit their farm stands or markets for abundant, high quality fruits, vegetables and prepared foods.

            A third excursion, for those interested in gambling, is east of the city in neighboring New Jersey. Atlantic City’s Boardwalk is over four miles long and dates to the late 1800’s when the city became a vacation paradise. Piers along the boardwalk offer amusement park rides, concession stands and shops. The boardwalk itself is lined with shops and restaurants.  As its heyday ended, the area began to take on a seedy and somewhat sleazy atmosphere, until the influx of gambling casinos, which have replaced the beach and amusement parks as the area’s prime attractions.  The streets of the boardwalk area have been immortalized in the game, Monopoly.


            Gary’s Gem: 

                        1.  During the summer, in Philadelphia, check out the evening sound and light show called Lights of Liberty” which begins at the PECO Energy Liberty Center at 6th and Chestnut Sts.

                        2.  The Reading Terminal Market is a great food and shopping experience in the city.  Here the visitor will find scores of stalls selling crafts, food and other items in an enclosed area.  Be sure to try a “Philly Steak” sandwich, the local favorite.
                        3. Try my walking tour of Philly, posted on 9-16-08, which incorporates the city attractions above with many other Philadelphia delights.


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