Brisbane, QLD

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


We left New York and stopped in Philadelphia for lunch before going on to Washington. Philadelphia is the capital of Pennsylvania and the birthplace of the United States of America. We did a quick bus tour  of 'The Old Town'  and then we were dropped off and given a map and 2 hours to do our own thing.  We went to the Liberty Bell Center first but when we saw the queue we changed our mind. However, the walls of the museum were mainly glass so we peeked in and could see the bell at least.

The museum was full of school children as well as tourists and there are a lot of reflections on the glass, so I included a pic from the web. The Liberty Bell was cast in London and sent to Pennsylvania State House (now called Independence Hall) in 1753. It is 12 ft around the rim and the clapper weighs 44lb. The clapper cracked the bell on its first use. Local artisans tried to fix it but not satisfactorily. However, it was still put in the tower. Engraved on the bell is: "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof."

The Independence Hall was shrouded in scaffolding so I found a pic on the web but it looks different we were probably at the back. It was built in 1732-53 and was the most ambitious public building in the colonies . The 'Declaration of Independence' was adopted there and 'The Constitution of USA' was signed there.

We found a food hall for lunch and a coffee. We had a famous Philadelphian Beef and Cheese sandwich. We had an interesting conversation with the young girl who served us coffee.
"Are you from England?"
"No. We are from Australia."
"That's in England, right?"
"No."It is a different country."
"Where is it?"
"Down Under. Have you heard of that?"
"It is south of the equator."
"What's that? It is a long time since I left school, like 10 years, I can't remember that stuff"

After lunch and a laugh we continued our walk around the Old Town. We passed the graveyard where Benjamin Franklin was buried. He spent most of his life in Philadelphia and London. He was a printer, author, inventor, diplomat, statesman, philosopher. and a philanthropist. He helped write the 'Declaration of Independence" and signed the 'Constitution'.

 The Betsy Ross House. There is still debate about whether Betsy Ross made the first US flag. She was a war widow three times and brought up seven children by working as a furniture upholsterer.She rented the 1740 home with its teeny tiny rooms.

I just loved Elfreth's Alley. It is the oldest residential street in USA. These houses have been lived in continuously for 300 years. 

In the 18 century they were occupied by artisans and craftsmen. Later merchants and seamen and later still by European migrants.

In the 1920's the houses were becoming dilapidated and were about to be demolished when in 1930 Dorothy Ottly pushed to have the houses restored to preserve the history of everyday people. That is how it is today. There is a lovely little museum in one of the houses. On the website link above there is a history for each house.


  1. I'd kill to live there! So cute. I've never spent any time in Philadelphia. And the waitress? Doesn't surprise me a bit. The kids here are graduating from schools and could not even find their way home let alone know where other countries are. It's shameful.

  2. i love all the red on the buildings, just beautiful, those last two shots. my hubby was born about 40 miles from Philly, but moved down here 40 years ago

  3. A very nice and informative post.
    Australia, that's near England, right?

  4. What a lovely lane. I bet the homes are very popular to live in now. Very sad how some people, don't have a clue about basic geography. I hope you didn't run into long lines and construction throughout your trip.

  5. It's been years since I visited Philadelphia. I enjoyed going back through your photographs. Thanks Diane. Interesting conversation you had with that lady. Sheesh!

  6. Oh, Diane! These pictures are outstanding! They give one the sense of actually being right there, beside you, enjoying it all in person. Loved all the commentary/happy chatter interspersed with your photographs. Astounded that your waitress had no clue of basic geography!

  7. The houses look a bit dutch to me. The red and green wooden acces hatches to the cellars of the houses, we still have in Amsterdam.

  8. Second attempt:
    I'm not shocked at the knowledge of the waitress - it is a wonder that she didn't comment that you spoke good english, probably thought you were Austrians. I wonder does she know what language they speak?
    Geography I found in my US travels, seems not to be taught in US schools/colleges except maybe within the "USA Square"!
    Great historical shots of Philadelphia! Well done.
    Pity about the geography!
    Colin (HB)

  9. I'm sorry you got a personal lesson in the shocking state of education in our country. As a former teacher I've been appalled at what our students haven't learned.

    On a more pleasant note, thanks for the memories of Philadelphia. I've been there several times and I think I've visited all the places you showed.

  10. GADS---how embarrassing --that the girl you talked to was educated here in our wonderful country.... GADS!!!!

    I have never been to Philly. It's always been somewhere I wanted to go--but so far, I haven't. These days though, as I've said before, I stay away from traffic and crowds and cities---and prefer the nature-type trips... SO--will I ever get there in person??? Not sure!!! I do have a great 'tour guide' living in my house.. George has been several times.

  11. Oh my goodness ..what a stupid waitress!

    In fairness, I had an Australian man tell me that my NYC accent sounded "fake" when I was in Sydney this winter. Fake, I asked?? "Yes," he said, "it sounds like you are trying to pretend you are on TV."

    I am still puzzling over that one!

    Philadelphia is an interesting and historical place. You would like Alexandria, Virginia as they have a large amount of similar houses that date back almost to the same period.

    I'm still chuckling over "Is that near England?" lol!

  12. Love this post it is so interesting and makes me want to go and see the places shown here.

  13. I laughed at the waitress story ,,, I have sat through several business presentations in the USA where Austria and Australia are muddled up ... clearly we are not as big and important as we would like to think.

    Mind you there are lots of "stan" countries and African nations that I would not have a clue where to place precisely on the map.

  14. Sad about the waitress, really. I am pleased that the history of ordinary people is preserved. I much prefer to wander through that than massive cold mansions.

  15. Oh please don't think I'm ignoring you! Work is seriously busy now (Iam the only one left from a department of 5!!) Sooo..I want to take time to really enjoy your whole visit!

  16. Wonderful post. Here we are full-time USA travelers and we've yet to visit Philadelphia (that's no phun at all)....your post is the next best thing -- thank you.

    I hate that the waitress was that ignorant (but sadly I am not surprised).

  17. I am laughing Diane, having always believed Hoges 'Put a shrimp on the barbie' put us on the map.
    Apart from that, interesting and information post as usual. My thanks.

  18. I love the huge bell and weighty clapper that cracked it first time. And the oldest residential alley is like something from a fairytale. I enjoyed your story about the waitress not knowing where Australia is. Have a great weekend. Jo

  19. Wonderful! Must read all, and what a picture from Wyoming!

  20. Loved reading the history.
    Shaking head at the poor waitress!
    Real good to read about the homes being retained to preserve history of everyday people.