Independence Hall is a 18th century government building where both the United States Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution were signed. It is a strong anti-colonial and pro-liberty symbol.
From 1775 to 1783, Independence Hall served as the principal meeting place of the Second Continental Congress, a body of representatives from each of the thirteen British North American colonies. The United States Declaration of Independence was approved there on July 4, 1776, and the Declaration was read aloud to the public in the area now known as Independence Square. This document unified the colonies in North America who declared themselves independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain and explained their justifications for doing so.
The Hall was originally built between 1732 and 1753 to house the colonial government of Pennsylvania. The red brick building was designed in the Georgian style by Edmund Woolley and Andrew Hamilton, and built by Woolley.
The bell tower steeple of Independence Hall was the original home of the "Liberty Bell". The original Liberty Bell, with its distinctive crack, is now on display across the street in the Liberty Bell Center.
If you enter a city center by subway, it’s always a surprise what you will see when you pop your head above the ground. While Philadelphia’s subway is a story to itself, the first impression of Independence Hall isn’t too grand either. I turned my head around and saw the visitors center and blinking skyscrapers. So where’s Independence Hall? Ah, it must be that little brick building with the bell tower!
These ‘tiny’ colonial buildings are completely dwarved by later constructions. Clearly no building restrictions here. There’s also a huge modern terminal to hold … one bell!
Free tickets to visit Independence Hall can be picked up at the visitors center. These will include a specific time-slot, as the tours fill up quickly. My visit was scheduled for 1 pm, and I was bundled into a group with about 80 others. We first had to sit through a speech by a park ranger (a park ranger at a historic monument? Yes – this site is managed by the National Park Service). Then we went into the Hall itself. On the ground floor there are two rooms. They are filled with period furniture. One was the former court room, and the other the assembly room. This is were it all happened, the discussions among the Second Continental Congress and the signing of the documents.
The area now called Independence National Historical Park has a couple more relics from the same period. Liberty Bell of course, and the pretty Library Hall. In all, it’s an important site in US and World History but it didn’t live up to my expectations. I visited the National Mall in Washington a couple of days before, and felt that Philadelphia really lacks that grand atmosphere of a (former) capital.