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History in Philadelphia

A Parade passes in front of Independence Hall

Independence Hall

A Parade passes in front of Independence Hall Credit: G. Widman for GPTMC

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.

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Featured Listings

  • The Liberty Bell Center

    Dramatic new home of the internationally known symbol of freedom

    The Liberty Bell in Historic Philadelphia

    The Liberty Bell has a new home, and it is as powerful and dramatic as the Bell itself. Throughout the expansive, light-filled 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 street

    Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia

    Butchers. Bakers. Candlestick-makers. Named for blacksmith and property-owner Jeremiah Elfreth, Elfreth’s Alley was home to the 18th century artisans and trades-people who were the backbone of colonial Philadelphia.

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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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  • Revolutionary Germantown Festival

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

    Reenactors at the Revolutionary Germantown Festival.

    Saturday, October 4
    You are never far from history when in Germantown, one of Philadelphia’s most historic neighborhoods. That’s never more true than during the Revolutionary Germantown Festival, a day-long festival that celebrates the rich history of Germantown 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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  • Constitution Day

    Celebrate with special events and free admission to the Constitution Center

    Admission to the National Constitution Center is free on Constitution Day.

    Constitution Day, held at the Constitution Center in Old City, features special events, educational activities, timely constitutional conversations with federal judges and an inspiring naturalization ceremony.

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  • Campus Philly CollegeFest

    A day of discounts, giveaways, entertainment and free admission to museums

    College students return to Philly in grand fashion during Campus Philly CollegeFest on Saturday, September 27.

    College students return to Philly in grand fashion during Campus Philly CollegeFest on Saturday, September 27.

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  • Cliveden

    A grand mansion with a fascinating — and bloody — history

    One of the most lavish mansions of its era, Cliveden is stocked with furniture and artifacts designed to evoke Colonial times.

    Now a six-acre oasis in the middle of a bustling Philadelphia neighborhood, Cliveden was an estate in the suburb of Germantown built just before the Revolutionary War by the Chew family. One of the most lavish mansions of its era, Cliveden is stocked with furniture and artifacts designed to evoke Colonial times.

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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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  • The Johnson House
    Historic Site, Inc.

    A vital stop on the Underground Railroad

    A reenactment at the Johnson House in Germantown.

    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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  • Wyck

    The Quaker way of life preserved for 300 years

    Duck into the partially hidden garden along busy Germantown Avenue for a 2.5-acre oasis of color and scent at the historic Wyck House and gardens.

    Duck into the partially hidden garden along busy Germantown Avenue for a 2.5-acre oasis of color and scent at the historic Wyck House and gardens. You’ll be whisked back to the Colonial and Victorian eras as you walk through the rose garden, vegetable garden, lawns and other plantings, many of which are direct descendents of the original 19th-century plantings.

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  • Bastille Day Festival
    at Eastern State Penitentiary

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

    Eastern State Penitentiary

    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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  • Historic RittenhouseTown

    The site of the first paper mill in British North America

    Historic RittenhouseTown, the birthplace of paper in North America, is now a preserved village on idyllic Lincoln Drive in beautiful Fairmount Park.

    The birthplace of paper in North America, Historic RittenhouseTown is now a preserved village on idyllic Lincoln Drive in beautiful Fairmount Park.

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  • Juneteenth Festival

    An annual all-day festival celebrating the end of slavery

    Germantown is an apt place to celebrate the end of slavery.

    Celebrate the end of slavery with free exhibitions, performances, vendors, discussions, family-friendly events and activities in Germantown.

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