Often referred to as the birthplace of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Philadelphia yields not only cobblestone streets and historical landmarks, but culture, artistic and ethnic treasures as well. The fifth-largest city in the country, Philadelphia is home to one of the greatest concentrations of American history and an excellent locale for student travelers.
Student travel groups often begin their visit to Philadelphia at Independence National Historic Park, home of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Considered America's "most historic square mile," students never forget the chance to view the Liberty Bell, housed in the Liberty Bell Center. Visitors can view a video presentation and several exhibits about the Bell, focusing on its origins and its modern-day role as an international icon of freedom. The Liberty Bell itself is displayed in a magnificent glass chamber with Independence Hall in the background.
Housed in the same area is the Assembly Room where George Washington was appointed commander and chief on the Continental Army in 1775 and the design of the American flag was agreed upon in 1777. The building, inside and out, has been restored as much as possible to its original late-18th-century appearance. Visitors also see the original "rising sun" chair used by George Washington as he presided over the Constitutional Convention.
If your itinerary permits, explore the Independence National Historical Park's other sites. Spanning over 55 acres on 20 city blocks within the historic district of the City of Philadelphia, the park preserves and interprets many of our country's most important resources associated with the establishment of the United States of America. These sites include the First and Second Banks of the United States, Congress Hall and Old City Hall. Additionally, the park tells the story of Philadelphia's most famous citizen, Benjamin Franklin, in Franklin Court, where Franklin's home once stood.
Celebrating the American heroes and ideals of freedom, the National Liberty Museum, located near Independence Hall, honors 1,000 men, women, and young people of all ethnicities who dared to step beyond their comfort zones to help make the world a better place - from world leaders to the first responders who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. Exhibits explore topics on peace with exhibits that demonstrate easy, practical ways to resolve conflicts peacefully, as well as an exhibit that explores the concept of freedom through the 300 years of immigrants' experiences. The museum also presents a collection of more than 100 world-renowned works of fine art which illustrate the fragility of liberty through contemporary art.
Believed to be the Philadelphia patriot that made the first American flag, tours of the Betsy Ross House reveals how working-class people once lived in Colonial Philadelphia. The house served as a home throughout the generations for a shoemaker, a shopkeeper, and an apothecary (pharmacist).
A place of four centuries of faith and life, Christ Church was once the place of worship for the likes of George Washington, Betsy Ross, and Benjamin Franklin. Guided tours of its grave site three blocks away are a fascinating look at history. Here, Franklin and other famous Revolutionary War leaders are interred.
Follow in the footsteps of Benjamin Franklin and see the "Ghost House," depicting Franklin's home. The "ghost structure" outlines the spot where Franklin's house once stood. Underground is a museum with displays, interactive exhibits, and a short film. Visitors also view a real working colonial-era print shop and the B. Free Franklin Post Office, the first in the U.S. founded by Franklin.
The inspiring Valley Forge National Historical Park commemorates more than the sacrifices of and perseverance of the Revolutionary War generation; it honors the ability of citizens and their leaders to pull together and overcome adversity during extraordinary times. This historic site was where General George Washington and his troops survived the famed encampment of 1777-78.
At the Battleship New Jersey Memorial & Museum, visitors tour the Navy's most decorated warship and view simulated operations areas spanning five deck levels. The New Jersey was built in Philadelphia and launched just a year after the Pearl Harbor Attack. Along the tour route, student groups see a few of its upgrades, including the installation of Tomahawk and Harpoon missile launchers and the Phalanx defense system - a computerized gun that could fire off 3,000 rounds a minute.
The birthplace of America provides student tours with unforgettable educational travel experiences. The area bursts with possibilities and opportunities for historic exploration and new discoveries.
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