CityPASS® Blog

Articles by City & Category

The History Behind the Most Famous Landmarks in Philadelphia

January 31, 2024 By CityPASS

Philadelphia, a storied city rich in American heritage, is a living testament to the nation's history. Its streets and buildings are not just architectural marvels but are also historic sites that have played pivotal roles in shaping the United States. From the echoes of Thomas Jefferson's eloquence to the revolutionary ideas that sparked a nation's birth, Philadelphia's landmarks are much more than mere tourist attractions; they are the cornerstones of American history.

As you navigate through Philadelphia's most famous landmarks, you'll not only witness their architectural grandeur but also delve into their historical significance. These landmarks, from the iconic Liberty Bell to the hallowed corridors of Independence Hall, are the embodiments of the American spirit.

Join us as we uncover the stories behind Philadelphia's most renowned landmarks, exploring their roles in American history and their continuing significance today.

Philadelphia's Rich History

Philadelphia's history is deeply woven into the fabric of American identity. Founded in 1682 by William Penn, an English Quaker, Philadelphia was designed as a place of religious tolerance and freedom. This ethos quickly established the city as a political and cultural center in the early years of American history.

In the 18th century, Philadelphia became a crucible of revolutionary thought and action. The First Continental Congress met here in 1774, marking the city as a focal point for Colonial resistance against British rule. It was in Philadelphia that Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence in 1776, boldly proclaiming the birth of a new nation committed to the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Philadelphia's significance continued through the Revolutionary War and beyond. The city served as the temporary capital of the United States from 1790 to 1800, playing host to the early workings of the federal government under Presidents George Washington and John Adams. It was during this period that the Residence Act of 1790 was passed, leading to the eventual establishment of Washington D.C. as the permanent capital.

Beyond politics, Philadelphia was also a center of innovation and culture. It was home to Benjamin Franklin, a founding father known for his significant contributions to science, diplomacy, and education. Franklin's influence is evident throughout the city, from the University of Pennsylvania, which he helped to establish, to the American Philosophical Society, which he founded.

In the centuries since, Philadelphia has continued to evolve, but its historical roots remain visible and vibrant. The city's architecture, from colonial homes to grand public buildings, tells the story of its past. This rich history sets the stage for exploring the must-see most historic sites in Philadelphia, each with its own contribution to the tapestry of American history.

The History of the Most Famous Landmarks in Philadelphia

Philadelphia's Iconic Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell, an enduring symbol of American independence, was originally cast in 1751 in London for the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) before gaining its iconic crack sometime in the early 1840s and being adopted by the abolitionist movement as a rallying emblem. The bell has witnessed many pivotal moments in American history. To this day, the Liberty Bell continues to be a powerful symbol of freedom and democracy.

The Historic Legacy of Independence Hall

Independence Hall stands as a historic venue distinguished as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Founding Fathers deliberated upon and ultimately ratified both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution within its walls. The hall's red brick facade and Georgian architecture have become synonymous with the city itself. Alexander Hamilton and other founding fathers walked these halls, making pivotal decisions that shaped the nation.

The Legacy of the Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute stands as a testament to Philadelphia's commitment to scientific inquiry and education. Named after Benjamin Franklin, this landmark is not only a hub for science and technology but also a historical site where visitors can learn about Franklin's experiments and inventions.

Museum of the American Revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution, a relatively new addition to Philadelphia's array of historical sites, offers an immersive experience of the era of American Independence. The museum showcases a rich collection of artifacts and engaging exhibits that narrate the story of America's fight for freedom, and it includes educational programs.

The National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center is a modern museum dedicated to the United States Constitution. This landmark brings the Constitution to life, and visitors can interact with programs and exhibits that highlight the document's amendments and significance in the contemporary world. The center is a hub for constitutional education and dialogue, bridging historical foundations with present-day governance.

The Iconic Rocky Steps

While not a historic landmark in the traditional sense, the Rocky Steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art have become an iconic symbol of the city. Featured in the "Rocky" film series, these steps symbolize perseverance and determination, resonating with visitors and locals alike.

Experience Philadelphia Like Never Before

In a city where the past meets the present, every corner tells a story. Philadelphia's residential streets, lined with the memories of the past, lead to historical landmarks that have witnessed the birth of American Independence. Here, history is not just remembered; it's felt. The Historic District of Philadelphia, in particular, is a treasure trove of American heritage, housing some of the most significant sites in the nation's history.

Sightseeing in Philadelphia offers a chance to visit must-see places to visit, each with its own story and significance. You may even consider a Big Bus Tour so you can hit the highlights in comfort.

And if you're looking to experience the best of Philadelphia, consider Philadelphia CityPASS® tickets. CityPASS® tickets provide a convenient and cost-effective way to explore the most iconic things to do in Philadelphia, including several of the landmarks mentioned in this article. So, experience Philadelphia like never before and create memories that will last a lifetime. Discover more about CityPASS® tickets and plan your trip today!

Philadelphia Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in Philadelphia, we recommend finding lodging near Philadelphia's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

Related Articles

Get inspired. #citypass