text: seven walking tours through historic Philadelphia

Welcome to the Independence Hall Area

Historic District z001 Historic District a046 Historic District b175

Ben Franklin, the Declaration of Independence, Betsy Ross, the Constitution, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, William Penn, and Carpenters' Hall.

Here is where a country was born. The buildings, the taverns, and the cobbled walks used by the Founders of America are, in great number, preserved for all to enjoy. Come and take a "virtual walking tour" of the Historic District — the Most Historic Mile in America.

On our stroll through the gardens and green walks, the streets and alleys, in and out of the buildings of today's city we sense what Philadelphia was like long ago and ultimately what the roots of American history are.

When we consider that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — the documents upon which the United States is founded and which have inspired other democracies of the world — were written and adopted here, that our first five Presidents were involved in the life of Philadelphia and that of the infant republic while they lived here, and that the greatest American of the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin, was — when not abroad — engaged in every phase of Philadelphia activity, it is easy to understand why the area has been termed the most historic square mile in the nation.

The city of Philadelphia grew westward from the Delaware River. Construction was started on Independence Hall in 1732, only fifty years after the founding of the city by William Penn. At the time, the area between 5th and 6th Streets was still on the edge of things.

Some forty years later, when the events leading to 1776 were involving the citizenry, the city had grown west toward 8th Street. The streets were still unpaved in the thriving port city and at that time the square, or "State House Yard" as it was called in the 18th century, was not developed as we see it today. The city was unlighted, too, and except for an occasional lantern on a house or tavern, or one carried by the watch, all was in darkness after nightfall.

Independence Hall Area