You pitch up in Philadelphia and have a few moments between the art galleries. What’s to see? Here are a few suggestions.
It might officially be known as JFK Plaza, but everyone calls it Love Park, after the sculpture by Robert Indiana that stands by the fountain. Originally only placed in the park for the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations, it was missed when it was taken away so the city purchased the piece and placed it back in the park. If you’re lucky you might even see the water of the fountain dyed – a tradition used to celebrate certain events in the city.
The Comcast Video Wall
The Comcast center lobby houses a piece of contemporary public art – a 27 x 87 feet, $22m video wall that shows images highly defined in 10 million pixels. When you’re watching look up and see the human sculptures balancing on the steel structure of the building. Painted realistically they look like acrobats carefully pacing the metal struts.
The Rocky Statue
Everyone knows Rocky was filmed in Philadelphia don’t they? I have to admit I didn’t, but I do now. Mainly because when you go to the Philadelphia Art Museum you’ll be dodging people running up the steps and punching the air Rocky-style.
Rittenhouse square is one of the original green spaces laid out by William Penn in 1682, although it has changed its name from Southwest Square to honour David Rittenhouse, the first director of the US Mint.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Why were prisons in the USA called Penitentiaries? Because they were designed not just to enclose prisoners but to make them penitent. Built by Philadelphia Quakers in 1829 the Eastern State Penitentiary was deliberately designed so that prisoners were kept in isolation. This was so that they could consider their deeds and repent. With long sentences and no other human contact prisoners suffered mental illness and by the 20th century the system of incarceration was abandoned. Al Capone’s cell in on display just as it would have looked in his days of imprisonment here.
Made in London and cracked the first time it was rung the Liberty Bell has nevertheless become a symbol of freedom for citizens of the United States as it is said to have been rung when the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia.
Where the Declaration of Independence was ratified on 4th July 1776.
The original location of the first President’s house has been found and preserved. There is not a lot to see, but George Washington’s house has the design of the current White House, with a Bay window – albeit on a much smaller scale to the Washington building. The story of Washington’s slaves is told in posters around the house.
Described as Philadelphia’s newest treasure, the Kimmel center for the Performing arts is a new building on the Avenue of the Arts. It is the home of the Philadelphia orchestra, as well as housing the Perelman theater and the 2547 seat Verizon concert hall. This hall is shaped like a cello and is finished inside in mahogany, whilst the outside is covered in Makore wood, known to be more resistant to ultra-violet than other woods. Amongst other technical innovations the orchestra pit can be raised to stage level and the choir can be lifted in sections above the stage. The 46 metre high roof is composed of 5808 glass panels and the silicone construction technique allows the walls to flex up to 2.5 feet in high winds whilst still remaining waterproof!
View a time-lapse video of the demolition and rebuilding of the center here.