August 27, 2013

8/2/13 - Independence NHP

We took the commuter train to Philadelphia to visit Independence National Historical Park.  (Jeff, somewhere in NJ, I took the graffiti picture through the window for you.  It's actually pretty good, altho you know how I feel about this stuff in public places.)
We stopped first at the Visitor Center to pick up our free timed tickets to tour Independence Hall and watch the movie Independence.   
We headed over to Independence Square for our tour--but first we had to go through a super-sloppy security check. We got there early so had plenty of time to wander/take pictures/get bored...

Tour was good, but way too many people and way too fast. They were taking groups of about 85 through every 15 minutes.  
We stopped at the Second Bank of the United States to see the portrait gallery (and detour to the restroom where I found some pretty cool hallways where the various levels of building stones had been partially exposed.) 

Then, since we were in Philadelphia, we went to Campo's for an authentic Philly Cheesesteak.  Yum!

As we were heading back towards the park, I noticed the US Post Service Museum right next door to a post office, so I went in. George started talking to a guy painting some doors outside. The property Ben Franklin owned is behind the Market Street Houses and is in the final stages of renovation (reopening in a couple of weeks).  While I was writing out postcards, G got a private little tour of Franklin's print shop and Franklin Court where his house.  They hand cancel mail at the PO with a rubber stamp of "B Free Franklin" in Ben Franklin's handwriting--he was the first postmaster.
Next was the Liberty Bell. Long line to get in, but once inside it wasn't crowded. The bell is exactly like every picture you've ever seen of it--there's a big crack and it ain't gonna ring no more!  Super impressive to actually see it.  (Judy, at your request, the Liberty Bell pics are for you.  Anyone else in the family want specific pics, just let me know.)
I wanted to visit the US Mint, close but  not part of Independence park. Free tour, better security check, no pictures allowed, no free samples.  It was a short work week so no one was working. We could look down into the plant but there wasn't a soul (or a penny) around! We walked along the gallery, trying to match inactive machinery below us to pictures in the little guidebook.  I'd like to see it in action.                 

I did learn a lot about how coins and medals are made.  If you want more details, let me know; I still have the little guidebook. 

Ben Franklin was buried in the Christ Church Burial Ground, across the street from the Mint--but it's only open by appointment. The grave is near the corner, so you can sort of take pictures through the fence.  People throw pennies onto it.  What's up with that??  (Ben Franklin?  Poor Richard's Almanac?  "A penny saved is a penny earned."  Oh, yeah, I get it now!)
By that time things were starting to close down, so we headed back to the train station.  I had planned to stop at the Visitor Center again, so we turned back.  Then I talked myself out of it, so we turned around again.  Then I changed my mind again, so we reversed, and then I decided I didn't want to walk that far, so we did another U-turn.  By this time, we were both laughing at me, but George warned me this was the last time we'd turn around.  We must have looked pretty stupid doing all those about-faces in about 2 minutes.  I'm so glad he puts up with me! 

A few more pictures of Independence NHP here. 

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