text: seven walking tours through historic Philadelphia

Franklin Square


Leaving the Meeting House, look north past the first park with the fountains to Franklin Square, one of William Penn's five original squares. It is still one of the greenest spots in Philadelphia, for the trees are old and large. Once surrounded by fine houses and churches, the square fell on difficult times as the city changed, but was brought back to life in 2006 with a caroussel and miniature golf course. The city swirled around it, but it remained quiet, a place of repose for many footsore dwellers, while providing entertainment and amusement for children. Walt Whitman was one of its better known bench-sitters as was the author, Christopher Morley.

Near the park's east side, hard by the entrance to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge is a 60-ton, 101-foot high, stainless steel lightning bolt statue, the work of Isamu Noguchi. Honoring Benjamin Franklin's famed kite-flying experiment, it is an electrifying welcome to those who cross the bridge into Philadelphia.

Historic District, North of Market Street