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Pictured: Independence Visitor Center

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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

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

    The Liberty Bell’s home on Independence Mall is as powerful and dramatic as the bell itself.

    The Liberty Bell has a new home, and it is as powerful and dramatic as the Bell itself. Throughout the expansive, light-filled Liberty Bell Center, larger-than-life historic documents and graphic images explore the facts and the myths surrounding the Bell.

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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

    Betsy Ross inside her home

    Did she or didn’t she? 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

    Exterior of the National Constitution Center

    The 160,000-square-foot National Constitution Center explores and explains this amazing document through high-tech exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. In the star-shaped Kimmel Theater, powerful music, a live actor and 360 degrees multi-media images tell the story of We the People.

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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. Two adjacent houses, built in 1755, are now a museum and are open to the public.

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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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  • Peddler’s Village

    Charming countryside village just one hour from Philadelphia

    Peddler’s Village

    Peddler’s Village offers small town, colonial charm just one hour from Center City Philadelphia. Explore 65 independently owned and operated specialty shops, six restaurants, a 71-room inn, family-friendly attractions and exciting annual events.

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  • Once Upon a Nation
    Storytelling Benches

    History that speaks to you

    A storytelling bench in Historic Philadelphia

    Discover the true stories scattered throughout Philadelphia’s Historic District in the places they actually happened with Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches.

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  • Powel House

    A luxurious mid-Georgian 18th-century mansion

    The home of Samuel Powel, Philadelphia’s first mayor, is the epitome of 18th-century elegance. On any given evening during its heyday, the guest list frequently included Washington, Adams, Franklin, the Marquis de Lafayette and other luminaries.

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  • Physick House

    The 18th-century mansion of the “Father of American Surgery”

    Dr. Philip Syng Physick was one of the most accomplished physicians of his time, and a tour of his 18th-century mansion in Society Hill includes some of the medical and surgical tools he invented.

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  • Mother Bethel AME Church Bicentennial Celebration Series

    The grand celebration of the church’s 200th anniversary

    Founded by the Reverend Richard Allen in 1787, Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church is the mother church of the nation’s first black denomination. The current church building was constructed in 1889 and stands on the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African-Americans.

    July 1-5, 2016
    Mother Bethel AME Church hosts a bicentennial celebration with a two-part series of events in its founding home of Philadelphia.

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  • PoliticalFest

    A unique celebration of our nation’s history, government and the road to the White House

    PoliticalFest brings to the Convention Center a one-of-a-kind exhibit of our nation’s political history.

    In celebration of the Democratic National Convention that will be hosted in Philadelphia in July of 2016, the Pennsylvania Convention Center presents PoliticalFest, a unique celebration of our nation’s history, government and the road to the White House.

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  • Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

    Serenity and elegance in Fairmount Park

    The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden offers 1.2 acres of peaceful gardens and a ceremonial teahouse in Fairmount Park.

    Explore 1.2 acres of serenity and elegance in Fairmount Park, full of landscaped gardens alongside a ceremonial tea house and koi pond.

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  • The Liberty Bell Center

    Dramatic home of the internationally known symbol of freedom

    The Liberty Bell’s home on Independence Mall is as powerful and dramatic as the bell itself.

    The Liberty Bell has a new home, and it is as powerful and dramatic as the Bell itself. Throughout the expansive, light-filled Liberty Bell Center, larger-than-life historic documents and graphic images explore the facts and the myths surrounding the Bell.

    View More
  • Independence Visitor Center

    Start at the Visitor Center

    Independence Visitor Center

    The Independence Visitor Center is the perfect place to begin your visit to the Philadelphia region.

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  • The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent

    New and improved history near Independence Hall

    City Stories Gallery at the Philadelphia History Museum.

    History renews itself this fall at the reopened and renovated Philadelphia History Museum. The historic 1826 building, located just around the corner from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, has been an exciting gateway into Philadelphia History for nearly 70 years.

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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.

    View More
  • 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.

    View More
  • The Betsy Ross House

    The birthplace of the American flag

    Betsy Ross inside her home

    Did she or didn’t she? 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.

    View More
  • National Constitution Center

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

    Exterior of the National Constitution Center

    The 160,000-square-foot National Constitution Center explores and explains this amazing document through high-tech exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. In the star-shaped Kimmel Theater, powerful music, a live actor and 360 degrees multi-media images tell the story of We the People.

    View More
  • Revolutionary Germantown Festival

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

    Reenactors at the Revolutionary Germantown Festival.

    Saturday, October 3, 2015
    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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