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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Throwback Thursday: A Trip to Philly

I'm in Philadelphia for a work conference.  I hope to bring you a great post on a Cheesesteak Challenge judged by Daughter the Younger, but first I will just give you a post about Philadelphia from the past!  You always wanted a cheap day learning and touring the town, right?

Benjamin Franklin has always been my favorite Founding Father.  I have always pushed this onto my two daughters. Whenever they are home from school and not as sick as they say they are, I require them to find something out about him that I didn't know.  That can mean an all day quest.

I came up with a walking tour of Philadelphia's sites affiliated with Franklin when they were young, and it has expanded over the years as I find more and more locations to add.  Almost all sites are free to visit, although some certainly give the option of purchasing things.  Feel free to add to my list by commenting to this post.

1.  Benjamin's initial landing site in Philadelphia.  Market Street at the waterfront.  Having left the employ of his cruel brother, Benjamin fled Boston as a young lad and traveled to Philly by ship.  He purchased 2 loaves of bread with the last of his money and met his future (common law) wife in his first minutes in his adopted city.  You can spend money here at many sites, now including a casino.  (Which would make Benjamin angry, I would suppose.)

2.  Benjamin's home.  Between 3rd and 4th Streets and Chestnut and Market Streets.  Ruins of his actual home are preserved 6 feet below the surface and a skeleton frames the size and shape of the actual structure. His wife, Deborah (Read) Franklin kept the house under repair and thwarted creditors during the 25 years Benjamin lived in England and France.

3.  Benjamin Franklin Museum (not the Franklin Institute). Next to his home site.  An underground museum of Franklin artifacts including his desk and his armonica and an early rendition of his Franklin stove.

4.  Post Office and Printing Shop.  316 Market St. * It will cost a few pennies if you want to send yourself a postcard stamped "B. Free Franklin".  Franklin coined the term "The Press" here for news reporters.

5.  Benjamin Franklin Grave.  Christ's Church Burial Ground, 5th and Arch Streets.  You can see his grave next to Deborah's through the fence.  *Many people toss a penny on it every time they pass.  "A penny saved is a penny earned."   With today's political problems, you can almost hear him spinning in his grave!

6.  Friends Meeting House.  320 Arch Street.  Benjamin Franklin was not a Quaker, but greatly admired them and attended occasionally with Betsy Ross and others.  My suspicions are it was a great place to take a nap. If you have ever attended a Quaker Sunday Meeting, you'll know what I mean.

7.  Elfreth's Alley.  The oldest continual residential street in America, they say.  *The Betsy Ross House is here but it costs money to tour it.  My advice is to look at the outside and visit the gift shop to just browse.  If you want to know what it is like in her house, go home and turn off the electricity and walk around, all the while realizing that everything is twice as big now as back then!

8.  City Tavern.  138 South 2nd Street.  *A working restaurant where you can have a colonial meal just like those that triggered gout attacks in Benjamin!  Pheasant and such isn't my kind of fare.  Bookbinders is right nearby!

9.  Independence Hall.  6th and Market Street.  No need to say more, although I will.  I always thought it was a great country that allowed students like me to cut through a National Park on the way to school. That just doesn't happen in many countries.

10. Liberty Bell.  6th between Market and Chestnut.  The bell has been moved several times and now resides here, across the street from Independence Hall.

11.Constitution Center. 5th and Arch Street.  As an old man, Franklin presided over the Constitutional Convention, sort of like a revered mascot or something.  The gout and his health made it difficult for him to attend, and he often was carried on litters. I really wonder what he would think of today's Constitutional arguments?  I don't think he would consider it a "living, breathing" document, but who knows.

12. Philosophical Hall.  104 South 5th Street.  As one of the New World's preeminent scientists, Franklin started the Philosophical Society as a way to promote more scientific inquiry.

13. Library Company of Philadelphia.  105 South 5th Street. Franklin also started the Colony's first library.  He would probably be a great proponent of the internet today.

14. Pennsylvania Hospital.  Between 8th and 9th Streets and Spruce and Pine Streets.  Franklin helped start the Nation's first hospital here.

15. Site of the Kite/Electricity Experiment.  10th Street 1/2 block south of Market Street.  A small plaque on a church is all that marks the spot of the great scientific achievement that sealed his place of honor in all of Europe.

16. Christ Church.  2nd and Market Streets.  Benjamin Franklin belonged to this church, although he is thought of as a Deist, as were most of the Founding Fathers.

17. University of Pennsylvania.  Yes, he founded this too!  A glorious completion to the tour is a run to Penn's Franklin Field for an interval set.  (A great tip:  run them in lane 1, as lane 4 is 400 meters! You'll feel like a champion.)
 
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