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No TitleLiberty Bell, Philadephia, PA
25th Jul 2008

Firstly let me say that Philadelphia is an awesome city and I rank it on a par with Chicago, almost as good as Boston, and better than New York.  Yes, New York is not as good as New Yorkers would like to think it is.


I took the overground train into the city centre.  The service was poor, one train per hour!  When I mentioned this in my disgust and boredom to the stationmaster, he replied that it's better during rush-hour.  Two trains per hour.

Upon alighting in downtown Philly I walked Market Street all the way to the main Independence Mall area, where the post-revolutionary tourist attractions are.  I started with the Liberty Bell, which I'm sure will be of interest to a certain campanologist among us.  I knew the bell was cracked but had not heard the story:  it developed a tiny hairline fracture which affected the sound, and so they recast it in the USA.  This was of little use, and the crack returned.  Eventually they drilled it out to actually widen the crack, thus preventing the edges from chaffing each other.  Ultimately, after a whole day of ringing, the crack spread and the tone deteriorated, and now the bell is simply symbolic.  There is no evidence to support the myth that the bell rang on 4th July 1776.... another case of American poets corrupting the minds of school history teachers.

After the bell I was in Independence Hall, the old city hall; and a room containing original copies (for distribution) of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Articles of Confederation.  The DoI copy is older than the famous signed one.

My lunch was in the original City Tavern, re-done in period style, serving period food in costume.  Quite fun, and excellent value.

I also visited the Congress Hall, the US Mint (sadly closed to visitors at 3pm and I missed it), Ben Franklin's grave, his house, his museum (they love Ben here in Philly); Penn's Landing, Betsy Ross's house, Christ Church, the old Presidential house (site) and Elfreth's Alley.  This is the oldest inhabited residential street in the country and is just charming. One resident hung the 18C British flag from his house, and another the 18C US flag. Nice touch.

Finally I saw the modern city hall and the business district before collapsing back in Manayunk.   It didn't help that I was hungover as hell all day and my lower intestines were still objecting to the cheap beer.


At night Dennis took me out for a Philly Cheese Steak.  We went to a famous shop were the queue went around the shop and down the street.  After 30 mins we placed our orders.  There is a special lingo the one must use in order not to delay and infuriate the assistants:  I ordered "whiz with".  That is, a cheese steak with Whiz brand cheese and with onions.  The result is a baguette ("hoagie" filled with shaved beef, Whiz cheese and onions.  Not bad.  The cheese looked and tasted like it came from a petrochemical plant and not from a cow, though, but then that's American cheese all over.

We then went on a quick tour around South Street (a hip area full of rock kids), some super-posh neighbourhoods and some ghettos. 


Next: Intercourse and Baltimore
Previous: Driving to Philadelphia via New Jersey and Delaware

Diary Photos

No TitleLiberty Bell, Philadephia, PA

Independence Hall, Philadephia, PA

Congress Hall, Philadephia, PA

Merchant market, Philadephia, PA

City Tavern, Philadephia, PA

US Mint, Philadephia, PA

Ben Franklin`s grave, Philadephia, PA

Hotel with various flags, Philadephia, PA

Franklin`s armonica, Philadephia, PA

Elfreth`s Alley, Philadephia, PA

Elfreth`s Alley

Presidential house site, Philadephia, PA

New city hall, Philadephia, PA

Cheese steak house, Philadephia, PA

Cheesesteak preparation, Philadephia, PA

My cheesesteak, Philadephia, PA

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