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History in Philadelphia

Independence Hall

Independence Hall

Discover the birthplace of our nation at Independence Hall. Credit: J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Explore Philadelphia’s Historic District

Welcome to Philadelphia’s Historic District, the birthplace of the nation and the first World Heritage city in the United States.

The Historic District, spanning from the Delaware River to 7th Street and from Vine Street to Lombard Street, is rich in history — after all, this district was the heart of Philadelphia’s original city.

historic philadelphia

But it’s also home to buzzed-about restaurants and beer gardens, owner-operated boutiques, pushing-the-boundaries art galleries and more.

Click the button below for our guide to Philadelphia’s Historic District.

Explore Philadelphia’s Historic District

History in Philadelphia

The paths to understanding American history all converge in Philadelphia and its historic countryside. Even before William Penn founded the city and built his estate in Bucks County, Native Americans and Swedish colonists recognized the region as an attractive place for trade and settlement.

Known as the birthplace of American democracy, Historic Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park (INHP) is located on the site of many of the seminal events that carried the nation through its founding as a global leader of democratic ideals. But this site hasn’t remained static in the nearly two-and-a-half centuries since the Declaration of Independence was adopted there on July 4, 1776. Instead, it has grown and progressed with the times, emerging in the early 21st century as a National Historical Park, providing a living model of history for the generations who come to experience it.

Featured Listings

  • The Liberty Bell Center

    Dramatic home of the internationally known symbol of freedom

    Visit the Liberty Bell in Independence National Historic Park and grab a photo with Independence Hall in the background.

    The Liberty Bell stands prominently in a glass chamber overlooking Independence Hall. Throughout the expansive, light-filled Liberty Bell Center, larger-than-life historic documents and graphic images bring the bell to life by exploring the facts and the myths surrounding it.

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  • Independence Hall

    Birthplace of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution

    Independence Hall

    They risked everything — “their lives, their fortune and their sacred honor.” During the blistering summer of 1776, 56 courageous men gathered at the Pennsylvania State House and defied the King of England. Eleven years later, representatives from 12 states gathered to shape the U.S. Constitution, finally creating one unified nation.

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  • Valley Forge National Historical Park

    Where the spirit of the Revolution received its sternest test

    Experience history at Valley Forge.

    With more than 3,600 acres of rolling hills and well-worn trails, Valley Forge is now a magnet for runners, bicyclists and picnickers as well as history buffs.

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  • The Betsy Ross House

    The birthplace of the American flag

    The home of the famous seamstress is a must-see historic attraction for visitors and locals alike.

    Ask Betsy Ross about her role in making the first American flag yourself when you visit the iconic home of America’s most famous flag-maker.

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  • National Constitution Center

    The world’s only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution

    The National Constitution Center is the world’s only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.

    The 160,000-square-foot National Constitution Center explores and explains this amazing document through high-tech exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays.

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  • Independence Seaport Museum

    An interactive museum exploring Philadelphia’s maritime heritage

    Sailing on the river outside the Independence Seaport Museum.

    With historic vessels to board, an underwater ROV to maneuver and a mock cannon to fire, Philadelphia’s maritime museum conveys what the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers have meant to the city over the years.

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  • Elfreth’s Alley

    The nation’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street

    While a modern city has sprung up around it, Elfreth’s Alley preserves three centuries of evolution through its old-fashioned flower boxes, shutters, Flemish bond brickwork and other architectural details.

    Elfreth’s Alley was home to the 18th-century artisans and trades-people who were the backbone of colonial Philadelphia. While a modern city has sprung up around it, the alley preserves three centuries of evolution through its old-fashioned flower boxes, shutters, Flemish bond brickwork and other architectural details.

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  • Eastern State Penitentiary

    Radical 19th century prison designed to create social change

    The looming exterior of Eastern State Penitentiary

    Eastern State Penitentiary set the standard for penal reform, with its soaring, castle-like Gothic architecture and its founders’ Quaker-inspired belief that solitary confinement could reform criminals.

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  • Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church

    The oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African-Americans

    Founded in 1787, the Mother Bethel AME Church rests upon the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African-Americans.

    Walk on hallowed ground when you visit Mother Bethel AME Church, the mother church of the nation’s first black denomination. Founded in 1787, the church rests upon the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African-Americans.

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  • The Johnson House
    Historic Site, Inc.

    Germantown’s vital stop on the Underground Railroad

    Constructed in 1768, the Johnson House in Germantown was owned by four generations of the abolitionist Johnson family.

    It’s easy to imagine 19th-century freedom fighters Harriet Tubman and William Still meeting at this Quaker home in Germantown, owned by four generations of the abolitionist Johnson family.

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  • Independence Visitor Center

    All-in-one center for info, tickets to Independence Hall, tips from experts and more

    Independence Visitor Center

    Start your visit to Philadelphia at the Independence Visitor Center, where you can get personalized recommendations, tickets to popular attractions, souvenirs, maps and more.

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  • Museum of the American Revolution

    An expansive collection of art and artifacts from the nation’s Revolutionary Period

    A new museum in the heart of Philadelphia’s Historic District, the Museum of American Revolution brings an expansive collection of art and artifacts from the nation’s Revolutionary Period

    Now Open
    The drama unfolds exhibit by exhibit at the brand-new Museum of the American Revolution. Three blocks from Independence Hall — the command center for the Revolution — this high-tech exploration into U.S. history reveals the strategic wins, crushing losses and the personal and world-altering consequences of the war for We the People.

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  • City Hall

    The largest municipal building in the country and the finest example of the Second Empire style

    City Hall is the largest municipal building in the United States, containing over 14.5 acres of floor space. It is an architectural treasure inside and out.

    City Hall is the largest municipal building in the United States, containing over 14.5 acres of floor space. It is an architectural treasure inside and out.

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  • Revolutionary Germantown Festival

    A special day to discover America’s history along Germantown Avenue

    Revolutionary Germantown Festival celebrates the rich history of the Germantown neighborhood and features the annual reenactment of the Battle of Germantown.

    Saturday, October 7, 2017
    Revolutionary Germantown Festival celebrates the rich history of the Germantown neighborhood and features the annual reenactment of the Battle of Germantown, the only military battle ever fought within the borders of Philadelphia.

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  • Second Bank of the United States

    A who’s who of Revolutionary War-era portraiture

    The Second Bank is known for its extensive collection of portraits by Charles Willson Peale.

    The Second Bank of the United States packs a large punch in a relatively small space, filled with an extraordinary collection of portraits of the men so vital to 18th-century America’s development.

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  • Elfreth’s Alley

    The nation’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street

    While a modern city has sprung up around it, Elfreth’s Alley preserves three centuries of evolution through its old-fashioned flower boxes, shutters, Flemish bond brickwork and other architectural details.

    Elfreth’s Alley was home to the 18th-century artisans and trades-people who were the backbone of colonial Philadelphia. While a modern city has sprung up around it, the alley preserves three centuries of evolution through its old-fashioned flower boxes, shutters, Flemish bond brickwork and other architectural details.

    View More
  • National Constitution Center

    The world’s only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution

    The National Constitution Center is the world’s only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.

    The 160,000-square-foot National Constitution Center explores and explains this amazing document through high-tech exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays.

    View More
  • Christ Church Burial Ground

    Visit the graves of Benjamin Franklin and other early American leaders

     Visit the graves of Benjamin Franklin and other early American leaders at the Christ Church Burial Ground. Visit the graves of Benjamin Franklin and other early American leaders at the Christ Church Burial Ground. View More
  • Christ Church

    Where Colonial America made its break with the Church of England

    Steeped in history, Christ Church is where Colonial America made its break with the Church of England.

    Where Colonial America made its break with the Church of England.

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  • Independence Hall

    Birthplace of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution

    Independence Hall

    They risked everything — “their lives, their fortune and their sacred honor.” During the blistering summer of 1776, 56 courageous men gathered at the Pennsylvania State House and defied the King of England. Eleven years later, representatives from 12 states gathered to shape the U.S. Constitution, finally creating one unified nation.

    View More
  • The Liberty Bell Center

    Dramatic home of the internationally known symbol of freedom

    Visit the Liberty Bell in Independence National Historic Park and grab a photo with Independence Hall in the background.

    The Liberty Bell stands prominently in a glass chamber overlooking Independence Hall. Throughout the expansive, light-filled Liberty Bell Center, larger-than-life historic documents and graphic images bring the bell to life by exploring the facts and the myths surrounding it.

    View More
  • Bastille Day Festival
    at Eastern State Penitentiary

    Wigs are welcome at this day-long reenactment of the French Revolution

    Eastern State Penitentiary

    July 15, 2017
    Grab a pitchfork and storm the walls! Whether you’re a revolutionary or a royalist, there’s something for you in this celebration of all things French at Bastille Day at the Eastern State Penitentiary.

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  • Independence National Historical Park

    The birthplace of American democracy

    The Liberty Bell Philadelphia

    Known as the birthplace of American democracy, Historic Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park (INHP) is located on the site of many of the seminal events that carried the nation through its founding as a global leader of democratic ideals.

    View More

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