This was the question everyone asked when my Handsome Husband and I found ourselves with a dog-sitter, an open weekend, and cancelled travel plans. We decided to go to Philadelphia and no one could figure out why.
Herewith are all the good reasons.
First, I got a great deal on a suite at a snazzy hotel. Second, it takes less than two hours to drive there. Third, I have an old college chum there who we made dinner plans with.
Fourth, Philadelphia happens to be the place where my favorite event in all of U.S. history took place: the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It always awes me that these men, who had property, families, and careers—in other words, a lot to lose—committed treason in a very public way against the mightiest military power in the world at the time.
In this very room.
It gives me chills every time I see it.
And here’s the walking stick carried by my favorite person in U.S. history: Thomas Jefferson. Lying in the place where he sat as he listened to the Continental Congress debate every word of his brilliantly written document. More chills.
While this statue is not historic itself, it represents the drama of what those men did.
We ate at the historic City Tavern where they recreate genuine 18th century recipes. Let me tell you, those pewter goblets really keep your water cold. Unfortunately, the also keep your hands cold!
Of course, we visited the Liberty Bell (right across the street from Independence Hall).
Fifth, Philadelphia has a lot of other cool stuff to see and do.
The Franklin Institute had an exhibition of artifacts from the Titanic (alas, they wouldn’t let us take photos of them.) Outside some ice carvers were creating the ultimate in irony: the ship carved out of the material that destroyed it.
The finished product.
As we entered the exhibition, my husband and I each got a ticket with a passenger’s name, travel class, and history on it. The exhibit recreated rooms and cabins for each class so we could see where we fit in. In the last room, we found out if our passengers lived or died. Sadly, both of ours died, my husband’s with his entire family of wife and six children. They weren’t even supposed to be on the Titanic, but had been transferred when the coal for their smaller ship had been commandeered to power the Titanic’s maiden voyage. (There was a coal strike in Britain at the time.) Such tragically bad luck.
We strolled through Logan Square with its drained fountain toward the Philadelphia Art Museum where Rocky made his triumphant training run up the steps.
However, we stopped short of Rocky’s goal to visit the Rodin Museum, a beautiful building housing the collection donated to the city by Jules E. Mastbaum, an early fan of Rodin’s sculpture. Of course, you recognize this fellow who broods at the entrance.
The Beaux-Arts building itself is lovely.
It’s the perfect size for me because I like to linger over the artworks and I could absorb all of them before my Handsome Husband got impatient.
I love Rodin’s muscular sculptures. This is the back view of The Three Shades. How gorgeous are those bodies?!
Another stunning back, this time of a woman, the Danaid.
When we got back to our hotel room, it began to snow, dusting the hat and shoulders of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who stood on the corner outside.
I was surprised to find Tadeusz commemorated in Philadelphia, since I associate his name with the bridge on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York. Turns out he was quite a fellow. Born in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, he came to America to fight in the American Revolution, ending with the rank of Brigadier General in our army. After the war, he went back to Poland and led an uprising against the Russians, which, alas, was less successful than our rebellion against England. He was eventually pardoned by the Tsar and ended up in Switzerland where he died peacefully.
So, have I convinced you that Philadelphia is a very underappreciated travel destination?