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Top 10 Historic Philadelphia Attractions

American History In and Around Old City


The birthplace of America is Philadelphia, the city where the founding fathers lived and the Declaration of Independence was signed.  Today that history echoes in the original buildings and museums of the area often called "Historic Philadelphia."   Lacking defined boundaries, Historic Philadelphia covers parts of the Old City and Center City neighborhoods and includes the Independence National Historic Park.  This list of the top 10 Historic Philadelphia attractions is not exhaustive, but it does include some of the most popular, interesting and informative places to visit in the area. 

1. The Liberty Bell

USA, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Liberty Bell
Peter Gridley/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Held as a symbol of freedom both in Philadelphia and across America, the ubiquitous cracked bell is on display along with information about the bell's history and its significance to America.  Free.

526 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106

2. Independence Hall

Independence Hall
Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC

Historical re-enactors lead you on a guided tour of the building where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Entrance is free, but between March and December, tickets are required.  Information about getting tickets is available on the National Historic Park's website.

520 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106

3. National Constitution Center

National Constitution Center
Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC

The National Constitution Center features a variety of permanent and changing exhibits and shows about the U.S. Constitution and American history, plus special events.

525 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106

4. Franklin Court

Franklin Court
Photo by K. Ciappa for GPTMC

Benjamin Franklin's house was, unfortunately, torn down in the early 1800s.  Today the site the house once stood on is known as Franklin Court, and it features a steel-framed outline of Franklin's home, a museum with a print shop, a working post office where you can send letters hand-stamped with with Franklin's original postmark and more.

314-321 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106

5. Elfreth's Alley

Elfreth's Alley
Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC

The oldest residential street in America, this small Old City street offers a museum and several historic houses, many of which still serve as private residences.

126 Elfreth's Alley
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2006
(215) 574-0560

6. Betsy Ross House

The Betsy Ross House
Photo: Meg Favreau

Let's start with the bad news: Nobody is sure whether Betsy Ross lived here or at a house next door that has long-since been demolished.  But the over-250-year-old Betsy Ross House has been furnished as it was during Betsy's time, and it features a Betsy Ross re-enactor and artifacts to teach about the famous (if history-shrouded) flag maker.

239 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1999
(215) 686-1252

7. Christ Church & Christ Church Burial Ground

Christ Church Burial Ground
Photo: Meg Favreau

Founded in 1695, Christ Church is both where many of America's leaders worshiped and where many of them are buried.  Tours of the graveyard and talks on the church's history are available most days.

2nd Street above Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

8. American Philosophical Society Museum

Philosophical Hall
Photo: The American Philosophical Society

In 1743, writer, statesman, scientist and arguably Philly's favorite son Benjamin Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society with friends.  Dedicated to scientific study, the society now runs a museum focused on science, history and art in the original Philosophical Society building.

104 S 5th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106

9. Carpenter's Hall

Carpenter's Hall
Photo: Meg Favreau

In 1774, the First Continental Congress met in Carpenter's Hall, a building that also served as home for the Library Company of Philadelphia and as a meeting place for groups including the American Philosophical Society.

320 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106

10. Declaration House

Declaration House
Photo: Meg Favreau

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson rented rooms at the Declaration House, also known as Graff House after its owner, Jacob Graff, Jr. This is where Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. 

7th and Market Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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