Who are we

We are a family of 3 who took a break from our routine. Usually we live in Scotland but February to the end of July 2011 we were on the road in North America for 6 months. We are Mark (also known as Dad), Rachel (also known as Mum... and a whole bunch of other names... my usual at-home blog is here) and little h (10/11 years of age during the trip).

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Philadelphia day trip

Independence hall

For the next couple of weeks we are based with cousins of Mark’s on the New Jersey coast… much family activity, much fine dining, many play dates… but in amongst it all we have a few city days too. This Monday Mark and I left h with a responsible adult cousin and high-tailed it off to Philadelphia for a day of adults-only touristy visiting with absolutely no gift shops (No stickers! No bookmarks! No teddy bears!).

The photos below will show you where we went but here are the areas/activities to help you follow the route. Apart from the journey from NJ (including over the Benjamin Franklin bridge) we walked it all so we had pretty tired feet by the end. We went:

- Into the indoors Reading Terminal Market (great atmosphere, every possible foodstuff, busy but very friendly and somehow refined, we did split a Philly Cheesesteak – not bad)

- Then along Market Street to the central tourist area where we viewed…

- The outdoor display about George Washington’s slaves (and the history of slavery in the US) at the President’s House (details here)

- The Liberty Bell (impossible to get a photo without other tourists in it!)

- Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and the US constitution were debated and adopted… and you are only allowed in with a tour so we joined in with a school group of teenagers from Boston. The ‘ranger’ who led the tour was a show in himself – more than a touch gung-ho and never letting facts get in the way of the greatest story ever told…)

- Congress Hall (again ‘tours only’ so we just looked at the outside)

- Next we went past the Free Quaker meeting house (where the Quakers who did join in with the fighting for independence in the late 18th century hung out – it was closed)

- And onto the 1804 Quaker meeting house (non-fighting division, still functional and it was open so we called in and looked around)

- After that we moved into the Old City (lovely buildings, lots of little restaurants and galleries and museums, pretty quiet on a Monday in March...)

- Over to Penn’s Landing (newish development by the Delaware river – probably more lively in the summer)

- Past the Irish Memorial (dedicated to those who died in the Irish famine of 1845)

- Over to Society Hill (more lovely buildings, very neat and tidy and clean…)

- Along South Street (lots of cool shops – mainly closed by the time we got there – and cafés and tattoo places and such)

- Back into Market Street (past lots of hospitals and a theatre or two)

- And finally into Chinatown for a quick, yummy meal before getting back into the car and setting back off over the bridge to New Jersey.

It was a busy day but we really liked the city and the people seemed awful friendly and relaxed. The sun shone too which helped of course.

Next week… NYC…



The Bug said...

Now Philadelphia I've been to. But it was for business so I didn't get to see all that. We did a river boat tour & on the way back the bus driver swung by the Liberty Bell. Dr. M & I really need to go there - so much history. Makes me think of the movie 1776 - Foul, filthy, fetid, fuming Philadelphia! (I might have the descriptors jumbled up - I don't have the song memorized).

Rachel Fox said...

We did read in the guide book that it was once known as Filthydelphia. Certainly not the case now.

I noticed they do the 'duck' tours there too so you could combine the duck and the history.

Carolina Linthead said...

Philadelphia "friendly and relaxed"? Wow, that must be a first. Actually, I've never been to any of those places, so I am majorly envious. I was supposed to go to Philly for a conference the other year where friends promised to show me the sites, but, alas, life got in the way. Anyway, I try not to let the Greatest Story Ever Told (American version) get in the way of the facts in my classroom, but then again, I'm not making money as a tour guide :-)

Rachel Fox said...

Well, it was a Monday... but really it seemed very laid-back... as cities go. A nice place to live, I imagine.

The tour guide thing is quite weird for us... at least the way it is done over here in the places of huge national importance (like Independence Hall). For anyone at home (or elsewhere) the guides at these places are called 'National Park Rangers' and wear uniforms and look a bit like grown-up boy/girl scouts. You feel like some of them have 'patriotic' tattooed somewhere secret too. It's certainly not the way we do it! I should say that I saw other staff doing different parts of the tour (for example a guy out in courtyard in costume of the 1700s) and some of what I heard them telling the tour groups sounded much more balanced and interesting. Less chest-pounding too.

Carolina Linthead said...

There is sometimes a vast gulf between what we as academic historians write and what public history interpreters say at national parks, etc., especially regarding the American Revolution and founding of the republic. And there is a dichotomy among public history folk, as you witnessed. Some are so wed to the feel-good national (nationalist, really) narrative that they can't even ponder alternative interpretations, while others try for at least some balance. As a people, we are, and have been for a long time, locked in a titanic struggle over our history / histories, and this struggle can get very ugly, as it has over the last several decades. Too tired to try to explain it all, but you have gotten the gist, I do believe.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, the teachers with the groups we got attached to kept quiet as this guy pounded on. I couldn't help wondering what they were thinking... and what they would say to the class afterwards! Maybe you've helped with that...

Titus said...

Oh wow, your travel is broadening my mind!

Great photographs (again) and who knew there were fighting and non-fighting divisions of Quakers?

Rachel Fox said...

Not me (and I went to Quaker school and everything). The fighting ones are definitely the forgotten, never-to-be-mentioned-again part of the family... especially as pacifism is one of the Quakers' USPs* really.

*Unique Selling Propostitions... not how they see it I'm sure but a person can't help their marketing background.

Mark said...

I sat in disbelief when the ranger spun the line "to put it into context the war with the British was the equivalent of Bermuda being at war with Russia".

err.....what about the French?

hope said...

(slaps self on forehead and groans)

I do worry sometimes what kind of idea "visitors" get when they come to this country. I think you've got the right idea by exploring on your own where you can see without someone telling you their version of the truth.

I say that as a born and bred southern gal who still finds reenactments of the Civil War...odd. We lost, get over it, move on. :)

I like where you're taking me! You've seen more of my country than I have...I can't wait to see where "we" go next. :) Thanks for letting me tag along.

Rachel Fox said...

It's all part of it really... local colour and all that!

Enchanted Oak said...

Hey, Rachel! I've been not a dogged blogger lately, but I try to do the Bus each week and there you were!

I so want to meet you and/or share a couple of favored parts of my state when you get here. The most favorite, Big Sur and our gorgeous Highway 1 just suffered a Big Sur-prise (I stole the phrase) ~ the road fell down the mountain north of Big Sur and then got buried by a landslide south of there to boot. We've had big rains on the central coast. Everybody there in Big Sur is trapped. No way in, no way out. The road guys are thinking maybe a month before the road's mended.

If you can get through, your little one will love the crawdads in the river and the humongous aquarium in Monterey.

Rachel Fox said...

Hi Chris
Thanks for the warning! We should get to the west coast some time in May and will be in touch then.

Marion McCready said...

Wow, not been here in a bit, so much to catch up on! What an amazing time you all must be having and what a wonderful experience for your wee girl!

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, everyone keeps telling her that! She is having a good time but she misses some people and some things about home too (I suppose 6 months is a lot longer to her than us...).

Domestic Oub said...

There's a faminine memorial? how interesting... we ended up everywhere....

Domestic Oub said...

faminine? Famine...

Rachel Fox said...

I thought there a lot of Irish pubs in England and Scotland but they have nothing on the number of Irish pubs over here! They're everywhere (on the east anyway). And St Patrick's Day was HUGE!