Philadelphia: City Hall Building Tour

Did you know that the tallest building in the world is in Philadelphia? No kidding … I am not referring to tallest as in the Burj Dubai, or Taipei 101 or the Petronas Twin Towers.

cityhall-11

That tallest building in the world is the City Hall in Philadelphia. The City Hall is at the center of the city … so center that there is a sort of a roundabout (more like a “squareabout”) around the City Hall. If you can imagine it … they put the City Hall right in the middle of the intersection of two roads that bisects the city into quadrants.

cityhall-10

The reason why this is called the tallest is this is the tallest masonry building in the world. There are no steel frames that support the building. The entire weight of the building is borne by the sheer thickness of the stone walls. Any higher than this, any building would have collapsed by its own weight.

The Philadelphia City Hall was actually the tallest building, period, in the early 1900s when it was constructed.

cityhall-5

Despite this being over 100 years old, it is still very much a working building. You would find it hard to believe but within this relatively small space, there are over 700 rooms in all, making it one of the largest municipal buildings in the world even today.

cityhall-22

The total height from bottom to the top of the statue of William Penn is almost 550′. I bet you can bet at least the contribution of William Penn to Philadelphia, PENNsylvania. He founded Philadelphia and that statue is the highest adorned statue in the world.

cityhall-13

Not many people know about this but you could actually book yourself a City Hall Building Tour. It is but far the best tour we had so far because we were shown to almost every nook and cranny of the City Hall. Continue reading

Philadelphia: Betsy Ross House

The American flag is best well known as the Stars and Stripes. At times, it is also known as Old Glory. It is the best known flag in the world and is easily distinguished.

bettyross-1

The history behind the Stars and Stripes are often attributed to a seamstress by the name of Betsy Ross. Although it had been disputed but the fact remains that Betsy Ross is the person who is best known as the person who first sewn the original stars and stripe.

bettyross-11

We went to make a short visit to her house. It was really a small place and there does not seem to be many tourists here. Somehow I felt that this place is more commercialized than it is historical. I think it is run by a company.

bettyross-10

The tour brought us to the various rooms during Betsy Ross’ days. Strange thing is that we do not really see much of the stars and stripes. Historical info regarding the American is scant … this place is more about Betsy Ross than the American flag.

Anyway, we did learn a few things here. The original flag has a circular arrangements of 13 stars which represented the 13 colonies at the time of independence. The stars on the flag was originally designed as a 6-pointed star because it is supposed to be easier to make. However, it soon became a 5-pointed star when Betsy demonstrated how easy it is to make a 5-pointed star with a few fold and a clip of the scissors.

Also, there are a total of 28 flag of stars and stripes designed up to today. Believe it or not, all of these designs are legal US flags and can be used interchangeably. As everyone knows that it currently stands at 50 stars but the US government has designs up to 56 stars for future use.

Trivia: Which state represented the 50th star? Which state will likely represent the 51st star in the future?

bettyross-12

I snuck in the picture above because I did not want to create another posting just for this. This picture above is the US Mint which is located just next to the Constitution Center. We tried to go in but they said “no camera”, not just “no pictures” but “no CAMERA”! And they don’t even have lockers in the place. This is stupid because who would not have a camera to visit a place like this? So, if you want to visit the US Mint, ditch your camera, ya hear?

Philadelphia: Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest art museum in the US and is certainly a world class one at that. The main museum building with it’s imposing facade was built about 80 years ago. They have a few other buildings, including the Rodin Museum that collective is known as the Art Museums.

phillyartmuseum-16

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is perhaps best known for the wide steps leading to the front entrance. This is where one of the most stirring musical score was shot on the 1970s movie Rocky. I bet if there is one image you remember from the movie is where Rocky raced to the top of the stairs in one of the more triumphant pose ever.

phillyartmuseum-24

The Art Museum put up a statue of Rocky Balboa at the foot of the stairs. Needless to say, there were hoards of tourists coming here to take the pictures of the statue.

phillyartmuseum-23

And of course, a lot of goofy tourists also had the obligatory picture taken at the top of the stairs in boxing poses.


Contrast Suanne’s pose with the real clip above.

phillyartmuseum-21

The view from the Art Museum is one of the most beautiful view of any city. It looks directly down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway right into downtown.

phillyartmuseum-11

When we were there, it was “pay what you wish” day. Normally it would have costs $14 per person. We dropped $10 for the both of us.

There were also performances inside the museum. We did not quite like it but took the opportunity to just take a seat on the steps like everyone else. There is a serious lack of seats in this huge museum.

phillyartmuseum-20

Well, Suanne fell fast asleep. When the show was over, everyone got up and Suanne continued sleeping. Gosh I could never sleep like that. So, I did not stir her up and left her to sleep for a few more minutes. He he he … people were walking up and down the steps and was wondering what this lady is doing sleeping right in the middle of the busy steps. Suanne got mad with me for not waking her up. I admit … I am wicked but she was so cute sleeping right in the middle of the busy central stairways.

Alright … boring pictures of the art works if you click “read more” below:

Continue reading

Philadelphia: Philly’s Gourmet Cafe at The Bourse

Around the area called the Independence National Historical Park are many buildings. Some are small and others, like the Philadelphia Bourse are large “modern” multi-storey buildings.

phillysgourmetcafe-21

The Philadelphia Bourse was the first commodities exchange in America. Today, it is just an office building and also a place where tourist had food in their visit to the Independence National Historic Park.

phillysgourmetcafe-14

They have a good variety of choices with the Box Lunch Program where for a few bucks you can pick up burgers, sandwiches, fried chickens and almost every kind of take aways you could think of.

phillysgourmetcafe-11

We went to a sit down place called the Philly’s Gourmet Cafe. Continue reading

Philadelphia: The Independence Hall

The little building below used to be called the Pennsylvania State House. Today, the unassuming build is now known as The Independence Hall.

independencehall-10

It is in this building that two of the most important document of the United States were signed. The two documents are the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

independencehall-14

To visit the Independence Hall, you need to apply for the tickets. We applied for it online prior to leaving home. It’s easy to do that and in the interest of saving time, you should also apply for it before you go. You are allotted a fixed time to report for the guided tour and the passes are named.

independencehall-15

Despite having applied (and given the time), we need to still pick up the passes at the Independence Visitor Center. Continue reading

Philadelphia: Liberty Bell

If you are in Philadelphia and you want to visit just one place, you should go to the Independence National Historical Park. This is where the events of the independence of the US occurred. This place is called the Independence Mall.

libertybell-10

When we were in the Independence Mall, the first order of our visit is to see the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell is located in the newly opened Liberty Bell Center.

libertybell-21

It is actually quite a large building considering that the purpose of the building is just to house the Liberty Bell. Everyone is subjected to security checks from one end of the building. Continue reading

Philadelphia: The Potbelly Sandwich Works

Updated: 27th Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

In the past week we were in vacation, we see quite a lot of Potbellies. There was one just nearby our hotel and since we had no idea where to go for dinner, we decided to just go into this place and check it out. I don’t recall seeing any Potbellies in the Seattle area. Are there one there?

potbelly-10

I like the name Potbelly. It gave me the image that it is a place where potbellied big eaters congregate. And on top of that it is not just sandwich … but sandwich “works”.

potbelly-12

The place were virtually deserted but it is quite a big place though. I guess it is close to closing time for them. The service was great and patient. We appreciate patience because we had no idea what we wanted and really needed help.

potbelly-14

We ordered “A Wreck” — nice name, huh? We love the wholewheat bread especially … it is very light and crunchy to the bite. Light is good because you get to taste more of the ingredients than the bread.

potbelly-13

It is served warm and has salami, turkey, roast beef and ham with Swiss cheese. It was pretty good and is better than the Subways that we had in Vancouver. At just only $4.19 (such an odd number), it was a cheap meal.

potbelly-11

We got ourselves a bowl of soup too. I can’t remember what it was really.

Potbelly Sandwich Works on Urbanspoon

Philadelphia: The Eastern State Penintentiary

Suanne wanted to visit the Rodin Museum but I wanted to visit a prison instead. Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum has the biggest collection of the Rodin’s works outside of France. That picture below was Suanne’s last happy face picture with Rodin’s famous work — The Thinker. I think this is the real deal … the original The Thinker and not a replica.

As usual, she being a super nice person, went along with my choice … but …

easternstatepen-30

… we had absolutely no idea how difficult it was to walk from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the Eastern State Penitentiary. On the map, it looked like it was a short walk but we did not count on the climb … and in searing mid day heat too. Suanne complained about my great idea as she huffed and puffed all the way up to where the prison was.

easternstatepen-4

After a 20 minute slow walk, we thought the worse was over when we saw the prison walls. Well, the worse was yet to come. When Suanne is upset, I better keep quiet. He he he … I love the way she gets mad … sometimes, not always.

easternstatepen-13

It was worse because this freaking place does not have air-conditioning. But of course, right? Continue reading

Philadelphia: The Reading Terminal Market

OK, here is another theory I have about great cities. You know, there are many things that any city worth its salt must have. Among others, they must have stadiums, public libraries, concert halls, art museums, airports, universities. Cities spend a great deal of money acquiring these infrastructure and they cannot declare that they have arrived until they build them.

readingterminal-16

One of the must-have for a city is a public market. Seattle has its Pike Place. Vancouver has it delightful Granville Island. Every city has its own Public Markets. Public Markets are always a great way to experience the culture and food of the city they are in. The first place we headed to for breakfast in our first morning was the Reading Terminal Market.

readingterminal-22

The Reading Terminal Market used to be a train terminal, hence the name. Today, it is a food bazaar of sorts. For foodies, and especially out-of-towners, you should check this place out. You can find all sorts of regional delights and even Amish food here. However, the Amish stores were closed when we were there — they only open on certain days of the week.

readingterminal-15

Suanne and I were quite bewildered roaming the entire place. There are many stalls selling food. In the middle is where you find tables.

readingterminal-12

We got some soft pretzels. Continue reading

Philadelphia: Getting Around

Although we had the use of the car, we left it at the hotel during the few days we were in Philadelphia. Philadelphia, particularly the downtown core and the touristy areas, are not big. Even the layout of the city is simple and is clustered along two streets – Market St and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

gettingaroundphiladelphia-1

Philadelphia is pretty flat and is a very walkable city. There are signs all around the city with maps and indication of walking times in the surrounding areas. It is pretty neat and have never seen this simple idea in any other cities I had been to. Vancouver could implement this easily.

The areas are color coded too. That makes it easy for us to quickly pinpoint our location.

gettingaroundphiladelphia-11

There are also clearly marked directional signs. You can NEVER ever get lost in Philadelphia. Generally, almost everything is located either to the west or to the east.

gettingaroundphiladelphia-1

The distance from the eastern part of the city to the western part is about 2.5 miles. Continue reading