William Penn— Pennsylvania’s namesake— founded Philadelphia along the banks of the Delaware River. Philly quickly transformed into an important colonial city. Known as the Cradle of Liberty, America’s founding fathers used Philly as the headquarters for the Revolution. Both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted here.
Philadelphia is home to the Most Historic Mile in America. In this one square mile you can find some of the most important sites of American history:
- The President’s House, where both George Washington and John Adams served their presidencies
- National Museum of American Jewish History
- African American Museum in Philadelphia
- The National Constitution Center
- Carpenter’s Hall, the meeting place of the First Continental Congress in 1774
- Franklin Court, the Philadelphia home of Benjamin Franklin — statesman, author, printer, inventor, postmaster, activist and more
- The Liberty Bell, a symbol of American freedom
The Liberty Bell has come to represent American independence. It originally hung in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House, which is now called Independence Hall. On July 8, 1776 historians believe the bell was rung as the Declaration of Independence was read. The bell gained popularity in the lates 1800s after a short story claimed the bell was rung on July 4th. After World War II, the National Park Service was granted custody of the bell, displaying it in a glass pavilion on Independence Mall. The Liberty Bell is a must-see on visits to Philly!
Independence Visitor Center
Swing by the Independence Visitor Center first to snag Independence Hall tickets, maps, and an events schedule.
Arguably one of the most historically important buildings in America. Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed here! You need tickets to enter and timing can be a little tricky, but experiencing this history firsthand is worth the wait.
Liberty Bell Center
Inside the Liberty Bell Center you can check out the historic bell and explore exhibits on its history. Daily crowds flock to examine the cracks in this behemoth which weighs in at over 2,000 pounds! In addition to a now famous crack, the Liberty Bell bears the words, “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.”
The Liberty Bell’s Famous Crack
The history of the Liberty Bell’s crack is up for debate. No official records explain how the bell first cracked, but historians believe it happened in the early 1840s. The wide crack is actually a repair job done to stop the crack from spreading. If you lean in close, you can spot the drill marks along the crack. After a second crack appeared, the Liberty Bell was silenced forever. No one alive today has ever heard this historic bell ring.
What Does the Liberty Bell’s Inscription Mean?
Etched into the Liberty Bell is a bible verse that reads, “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.” The inscription was chosen in 1751. It is believed to commemorate William Penn’s founding of Pennsylvania that granted religious liberties to the people there. The message took on new meaning for abolitionist seeking to end slavery in the U.S.
What Does the Liberty Bell Represent?
In 1847, George Lippard published a story called “Ring, Grandfather, Ring”. This short story brought the Liberty Bell to the attention of Americans across the country. The Liberty Bell was thrust into the national spotlight, and toured the country starting in the 1800s.
Different causes have adopted the bell and its meaning throughout America’s history. Before the Civil War, abolitionists used the bell to symbolize freedom for all men. The Women’s Suffrage movement rang the bell in 1915 to encourage support for women’s voting rights legislation.
Although visitors can no longer hear the Liberty Bell ring, the bell is still an important symbol of American freedom.
Enjoy your Boston tour!
Philadelphia Tour Benefits
- Curated Sites
- Audio Tours
- Offline Map