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U.S. History Walking Tour

The best place to orient yourself is at the Independence Visitor Center on 6th Street between Market and Arch. A block to the north are the contemporary National Constitution Center and Franklin Square, which has a seasonally operated carousel and a miniature golf course. Directly across Market Street is the gathering area for the Liberty Bell Pavilion and thePresident's House monument. On the southeast corner of 5th and Market streets is the new home of the National Museum of American Jewish History. Cross Chestnut Street to Independence Square, site of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed; tours begin in the courtyard alongside Old City Hall, home of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1791 to 1800. Independence Hall is flanked by Congress Hall, which holds the chambers of the first U.S. Congress.

Next, cross 5th Street to the cobblestone Library Street, where you can see Library Hall, a reconstruction of the first public library in the United States. Heading toward 4th Street on the left is the Parthenon look-alike, the Second Bank of the United States, with its portrait gallery of Colonial Americans; its entrance is on Chestnut Street. Crossing 4th Street, follow a redbrick path to the Carpenters' Court; Carpenters' Hall, with its displays of 18th-century tools, is on your right. On your left is Pemberton House, now a bookstore and gift shop. Behind the bookstore is the New Hall Military Museum; it contains a variety of weapons and uniforms. Leave Carpenters' Court and continue on the redbrick path alongside manicured lawns and ancient oaks and maples east to 3rd Street, site of the First Bank of the United States, a handsome example of Federal architecture.

Walk north on 3rd Street, cross Chestnut Street, and turn left to the National Liberty Museum; the exhibits here celebrate diversity and honor Nobel Peace Prize winners. Your next stop should be Franklin Court. Just past the National Liberty Museum, turn right through the gates and walk down the cobblestone path. Head into the underground museum that celebrates the achievements of Benjamin Franklin, and visit the Colonial-era print shop and post office. Exit on Market Street and turn left. Walk several blocks, passing the Liberty Bell and the visitor center, and turn left on 7th Street. On your right, you can see the reconstructed Declaration House, where Thomas Jefferson wrote his rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, and a branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Across 7th Street is the Philadelphia History Museum, which chronicles the city's history. Next to the museum is a walkway under the Rohm and Haas Building. At 6th Street turn right and walk south almost to Walnut Street to the Curtis Center; peek into the lobby to see the mural by Maxfield Parrish and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Continue east on Walnut Street. On the corner of 4th and Walnut is the Todd House, home of Dolley Madison; it stands in contrast with the lavish Bishop White House, at 3rd and Walnut. Follow Walnut a half-block east to Philadelphia Merchant's Exchange, the city's commercial center for part of the 19th century. Around the corner at 2nd, between Walnut and Sansom, is Welcome Park, marking the spot where William Penn once lived.

Updated: 08-2013

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