Bells, Banks and Walnuts. Oh My!

 photo LIberty Bell Independence Hall_zpsqbvdbkn1.jpg

Here is something you most likely didn’t but probably should know about me: there are 3 things in life I am utterly and completely obsessed with. Things that I have become known for to anyone who knows me personally.

What are these things you ask? Baby elephants (especially baby elephant youtube videos. I just can’t handle how cute they are), sunflowers and bells.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Not yet? Philadelphia is home to one of the biggest, most magnificent bells in history. To say I was a little excited to see it in person is a mild understatement.

At this point you’re probably thinking: God, Caitlin I had no idea you were so weird. I, on the other hand, look at it as enjoying the little things in life.

Okay, you’re right. It’s weird too but I’m totally fine with it!

The Liberty Bell is located at Independence Park right across from, you guessed it, Independence Hall.

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You’ll follow the crowd, catching up on the history of the bell and how many different movements it became a symbol for throughout our history.

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Finally, the room will open up and there it is. Displayed front and center with Independence Hall perfectly positioned behind the glass wall.

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The bell is huge and absolutely marvelous!

Did you know, no one knows what the bells sounds like. It cracked in the early 1840’s (most likely from 90 years of hard use). They decided to repair it by widening the crack to prevent further spread and to restore the tone of the bell.

Ironically, a second crack appeared and it’s been silent (almost) ever since.

On D-Day the mayor rang it 7 times: one for each letter of the word liberty.

They have created a digital reconstruction of what they believe it sounds like. Check it out here! 

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On the way back to the hotel, I passed by the Second Bank of the United States and decided to pop in.

The gorgeous greco-roman building was once the bank, then a customs house and now a portrait gallery.

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You’ll walk through the massive front doors and immediately become engulfed in high ceilings, marble columns and . . .  pink walls!

Back in the 18th century, pink was a masculine color and since the bank was a place for men, it was only fitting that the walls would be pink.

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The vast majority of the portraits were painted by Charles Wilson Peale who would meet the most influential men of the time in places like City Tavern and would ask if he could paint them. He would paint them in their everyday clothes to capture their real appearance which appealed to the masses.

The majority on display are originals but some are paintings of paintings.

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If you visit Philly, I highly recommend a stop at the Bank and when you’re there, be sure to talk to the Rangers.

The National Historic Park Service has Rangers at many of the sites throughout the city and their job is to interpret history for you, to make it fun, lively and like a story.

They are full of fun facts and make history incredibly interesting! You’ll start talking to them and next thing you’ll know an hour has passed and you’ll still not be wanting to leave!

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I eventually pulled myself away from the museum and got changed for a night at the theater.

As per usual, I was incredibly early so popped into Le Pain Quotidien.

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I sat sipping wine, watching the sky turn into rich shades of blue as the world whirled by.

It was very peaceful . . . until people from the naked bike ride rode past. Talk about a mood killer!

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When the sun finally dipped below the horizon, I headed over to the Walnut Street Theater.

The Walnut is one of the most historic theaters in the States. It opened in 1809 and has housed actors from the Hepburns (both Audrey and Katharine), Marlon Brando, Robert Redford and the Marx Brothers.

Fun fact: It was purchased in 1863 by Edwin Booth. Sound familiar? You may have heard of his brother John Wilkes. He’s kind of famous for theater as well.

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The night ended with a fabulous production of South Pacific. Rodgers and Hammerstein can do no wrong in my opinion and South Pacific just proved that.

If you ever want a show that makes you laugh, think and hum along in time with the music, I can’t recommend it enough!

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I headed home well after the stars came out and crawled straight into my big, cozy bed.

Philadelphia is so rich in history, every place you go has a story. By the end of the night you go to bed feeling so very full in the best way.

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