Philadelphia – History or Hollywood?

Today, I spent the day in Philadelphia. A place steeped in the history of the USA or so we are told.

The day was a beautiful day and started off well as I got to chat to Michelle for more than an hour. A good way to start the day Smile

After breakfast I checked out of my hotel and headed off into the centre of Philadelphia to visit the Liberty Bell Centre and the historic sites related to the Declaration of Independence and the early days of the US.

After leaving the visitor centre, the first thing I came across was this building.


This is Independence Hall. now, look a bit closer and you will see the top of the picture is actually a picture hung over the scaffolding of the works they are carrying out. So people have a photograph of a picture of what the hall will look like when restored!

Next up was this building which is called the presidents’ house and refers to George Washington and Samuel Adams. Now, this is a structure built on the site of the President’s house, it is not the actual presidents’ house.


What is interesting is that when he lived here as President, George Washington had nine slaves. Now, cast your mind back to the Declaration of Independence which contains near the beginning the following text

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

Now also remember that George Washington was the first President of the USA. Can you see the slight conflict in everyone being equal and have the unalienable right to be free? Perhaps George Washington was not the great and honest person we were lead to believe!

It gets worse when one reads the plaques there. If the slaves had remained in Pennsylvania continuously, they would have earned their freedom under state law, so Washington ensured the slaves were rotated out of the state to prevent this happening.


Next to the presidents’ house is the home of the Liberty Bell. A quick Google search reveals the following statement

The bell was probably rung at the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia (on July 8, 1776). It rang to announce many important events in early American history, including Presidential elections and deaths

Again we are lead to associate the bell with the Declaration of Independence. This is quite simply not the case. The bell was commissioned by the state of Pennsylvania in 1751 to remind residents and visitors to Philadelphia of its important position.

1776 the bell rings out at the Declaration of Independence? Well not so it seems


The photo of the bell below is interesting. Can you notice what is unusual about it?


Well this picture is made up of 25,000 soldiers! – see the close up below. A quite novel picture.


The campaigners for the abolition of slavery renamed the bell the Liberty Bell. So, some 50 years after the Declaration of Independence that all men are equal and have the inalienable right to liberty. The so called land of the free still has slavery.



The bell itself is displayed for all to see in a permanent building only yards from its original home.



Amongst the other places I visited was the Franklin Museum. This was under the site of where Franklin owned 3 houses only yards from the Independence Hall. This museum is a strange place. Look at some of the inscriptions accompanying some of the exhibits.


Hmmm, a museum that has exhibits that MAY have belonged to the subject. Not items that did belong to the subject.

Now, lets move to another exhibit – this one an interactive exhibit.


Now, the plaque introducing this exhibit that consists of lots of telephones also makes it clear Franklin never used telephones as they did not exist, so why have a hypothetical exhibit in what is supposed to be a museum, not a fantasy world.

Nearby to this is the first post office in America. This post office pre dated the formation of the USA and as such is the only one in the USA not to fly the Stars and Stripes




Now, it was time for me to return to the visitor Centre and view the advertised 30 minute film on the history of Independence. The electronic display board indicated the next one started at 14:30, so at 14:30 we all gathered to watch it, only to be told there was no film and instead there was a talk on Asian Immigration into the USA. So, once again what people are led to expect is not what it seems.

Oh well, off to gift shop. Now amongst the usual gift shop fare including key rings, copies of the Declaration of Independence sayings of Benjamin Franklin and historical items etc..






Benjamin Franklin


I found the following the following items.


Yes, that’s right, in a historical gift shop dedicated to the Liberty Bell and the Declaration of Independence, there are T shirts and other memorabilia relating to that historical character Rocky Balboa. Sorry, did I say historical character, I meant to say Hollywood invention Rocky Balboa.

Actually, I thought it was quite appropriate as lots of other things about American History seems to be more Hollywood rather than historical.

I did however find someone who clearly models his clothing style on Simon Cowell.


Look at the waistband of those trousers – sad!


This evening I went to see Philadelphia Union play Chicago Fire in the MLS at PPL Park in run down Chester. I will be writing about the game in a separate Ground Hopping post. However, I could not pass up mentioning that I was re united with an old acquaintance at the ground. Well, when I saw acquaintance, I really mean an old foe.

The ground is situated on the North bank of the Delaware River in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge. This was the big bridge we rode over towards the end of Day two of the PUT ride. We had done 80+ miles before we rode over the bridge. The bridge is 4240 meters long and is a long climb from river level to the top.


The above pictures show the height of the bridge above the river. As we cross the bridge it begins the decent and even after passing the length of the football ground it is still way above the height of the football ground. Some 200+ yards after the river the bridge is still a long way above ground. It descends much more slowly than it rises from the New Jersey side. We rode up the steeper side.


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