Prepping for the U.S. citizenship test is no small task, but Philadelphia’s self-guided New Americans Tour makes learning easier—and a whole lot more fun. The city contains approximately half the answers to the 100-question citizenship test study. This means aspiring citizens and others students of U.S. history can gain the knowledge they seek simply by visiting Philly’s historic sites and attractions. Best place to start: Philadelphia’s Historic District, the original city—and a very pedestrian-friendly one at that. The trail is available at visitphilly.com/newamericans.
Here’s a look at the 20 tour spots:
1. The African American Museum in Philadelphia, exploring the lives and contributions of people of the Africa Diaspora through exhibitions such as Audacious Freedom, focused on the experiences of African-Americans in Philadelphia from 1776 to 1876. 701 Arch Street, aampmuseum.org
2. American Philosophical Society Museum, the first national library, academy of science and museum—from Benjamin Franklin, of course. 104 S. 5th Street, nps.gov/inde
3. Benjamin Franklin Museum, all about the U.S. diplomat, signer the Declaration of Independence, shaper of the U.S. Constitution, writer of Poor Richard’s Almanac, first Postmaster General of the U.S. and creator of the nation’s first free libraries—not to mention printer, scientist, fire company and hospital founder and face of the $100 bill. Between 3rd & 4th Streets and Market & Chestnut Streets, nps.gov/inde
4. Betsy Ross House, where the upholsterer is credited with creating the nation’s original red, white and blue banner, with one stripe for each of the 13 colonies. A Ross interpreter tells the story of how the flag was made. 239 Arch Street, historicphiladelphia.org
5. Christ Church, the house of worship for prominent settlers, including 15 signers of the Declaration of Independence, Betsy Ross, Revolutionary War leaders—also, from 1745 to 1810, North America’s tallest structure. 20 N. American Street, christchurchphila.org
6. Congress Hall, home to first U.S. Congress, made up of two “houses,” the Senate (“upper”) and House of Representatives (“lower”). 5th & Chestnut Streets, nps.gov/inde
7. Declaration House, where, in the summer of 1776, tenant and Virginia delegate Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. 7th & Market Streets, nps.gov/inde
8. Dolley Todd House, the home Dolley Todd Madison lived in before marrying James Madison—after Madison co-authored The Federalist Papers. 143 S. 3rd Street, nps.gov/inde
9. Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP), home to more than 21 million printed and graphic items—and a premier center for the documentation and study of ethnic communities, immigrant experiences, tracing the evolution of America, from the personal to the political. 1300 Locust Street, hsp.org
10. Independence Hall, the spot where in 1776 delegates from the colonies gathered and adopted the Declaration of Independence to break away from British rule. This spot is also where the U.S. Constitution was debated and adopted in 1787 during the Constitutional Convention. 5th & Chestnut Streets, nps.gov/inde
11. Liberty Bell Center, home to the cracked but mighty Bell that has served as an international symbol of freedom. A short film available in English and eight other languages traces how abolitionists, suffragists and other groups adopted the bell for to further civil rights. 6th & Market Streets, nps.gov/inde
12. Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, founded by Bishop Richard Allen in 1794 and the mother church of the nation’s first black denomination. This active church occupies the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African-Americans. 419 S. 6th Street, motherbethel.org
13. Museum of the American Revolution, the newest addition to the Historic District, home to a discoverable archive of artifacts from the battles that created the United States of America. Some standouts: General Washington’s headquarters tent, Patrick Henry’s law books and an in-depth exhibit on the Oneida Nation’s wartime involvement. 101 S. 3rd Street, amrevmuseum.org
14. National Constitution Center, the place to learn about the most influential four-page document in U.S. history, beginning with the iconic words of self-government, “We the People.” Hands-on activities, artifacts and a powerful multimedia production delve into the roles, responsibilities and evolution of the nation’s three branches of government. 525 Arch Street, constitutioncenter.org
15. National Museum of American Jewish History, exploring the impact of the early promise, then the First Amendment’s guarantee, of freedom of religion on 360 years of Jewish life in America and the immigrant experience. The free first-floor gallery displays Einstein’s pipe and Spielberg’s first camera. 101 S. Independence Mall East, nmajh.org
16. Olympia, the world’s oldest steel warship still afloat. This ship led the first victory at sea during the Spanish-American War and was Admiral Dewey’s flagship during the Battle of Manila Bay. The admiral’s quarters, sailors’ sleeping hammocks, gun turrets and other artifacts offer a glimpse into life at sea during the late 1800s. 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, phillyseaport.org
17. Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent, where artifacts dating from the 17th century to the present tell the stories of new Americans. There’s also a giant walk-on map of Philadelphia. 15 S. 7th Street, philadelphiahistory.org
18. The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation, an open-air venue that explores the paradox of slavery and freedom at the nation’s first executive mansion. Videos tell the stories of Hercules, Oney Judge and the other Africans enslaved by the “Father of Our Country,” George Washington. 6th & Market Streets, nps.gov/inde
19. Second Bank of the United States, chartered by Congress in 1816, and now serving as a gallery of portraits of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, signers of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution and other significant figures in America’s history. 420 Chestnut Street, nps.gov/inde
20. U.S. Mint, brainchild of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and approved by Congress in 1792. Under the power of the federal government, money is produced in the Historic District’s modern descendant of the original Mint building, which offers a video and free, self-guided tours. 151 Independence Mall East, (215) 408-0114, usmint.gov
Philadelphia’s Historic District campaign, from VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, showcases the city’s incomparable place in early American history and the still vibrant neighborhoods of Old City, Society Hill and the Delaware River Waterfront. The campaign celebrates America’s most historic square mile in the country’s first World Heritage City, as designated by the Organization of World Heritage Cities. Funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development and H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest, the initiative runs through September 2018.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, visitors can engage with costumed history makers, hear stories of the real people of independence and take part in colonial reenactments. And every day of the year, they can tour, shop, dine and drink in the area just like the founding fathers and mothers once did. For more information about all there is to see and do in Philadelphia’s Historic District, go to visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com.