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Happy 4th of July!
Growing up in the NYC public school system, one of our rites of passage was the class trip to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell. I don’t remember much about that trip besides horsing around with my friends on the bus and touching the actual Liberty Bell with my grubby 4th grade hands!
That’s right, they let 9 year olds, or anyone else who wanted to, touch the 200 year old symbol of America. Maybe we weren’t supposed to, but there really wasn’t any way to prevent it. Years later, this proved problematic when a crazed tourist attacked the bell with a hammer. We just can’t have nice things…
And so, in 2003, the bell was moved to its new home in the shiny new Liberty Bell Pavilion, across the street from Independence Hall. The pavilion is a block-long building dedicated to the Liberty Bell and its long and interesting history. It is very crowded and you will have to go through airport-type security to get inside, but there is no entry fee or reservations required. It is best to go first thing in the morning, when it opens.
Exhibits from different periods of the bell’s history line the walls of the long building leading to the bell at the far end. Most know the bell as a symbol of the American Revolution, but it has been a symbol of freedom for us in many other conflicts throughout our history.
From ringing in the Declaration of Independence in July 1776, to cracking down the middle, to symbolizing the abolitionist movement during the Civil War, etcetera….this bell has seen and done a lot! There is a film in the exhibit just before the bell that I recommend watching… it’s very informative, and our friends from France who were touring with us enjoyed it very much.
The bell itself is not encased in glass, but it is behind a railing with security standing guard in case you managed to sneak your hammer past the xray machine. You’ll have to be somewhat aggressive if you want a photo with the bell…there are a lot of tourists trying for the same shot with the famous crack. If you are lucky enough to get there before the selfie hordes, you may be able to capture the bell with Independence Hall in the background.
So snap away, do not touch and “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof”
Location: N 6th St & Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Designation: National Historical Park
Date NPS designation declared: 1951
Date of my visit: August 2017