Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Philly Vacation--Day 3

Well, I can't complain about the weather today. We had a storm last night which cooled things down as well as lowered the humidity. It was certainly a welcome change. We also had a change up in activities. Today the emphasis was on buildings instead of history although there was an interesting history involved with everything we saw.

Carving from City Hall
We started in Center City where we toured the Philadelphia Masonic Temple and City Hall. The temple was a large building, built in the late 1800's, and very ornately decorated. Among other things, they had five main meeting rooms that had been painstakingly copied from five different temples or museums from around the world. Each room was filled with elaborate, beautiful details.

Next we moved across the street to take a tour of Philadelphia City Hall. This city hall is the largest operating municipal building in the US (it has over 700 rooms) and its building style is referred to as French Second Empire, I'm not sure what that means except detailed and fancy. It was built in the late 1800's, but has a long history of funding difficulties and the city wanting to tear it down. However, luckily it has been mostly restored and is still a busy city office building. The highlight for Ward, Wally, and Theodore may have been riding the elevator to the observation deck (548' above ground) at the base of a 37' high statue of William Penn (Philly's founder). That wasn't the highlight for me, however, because I'm afraid of heights.

After tours of these beautiful buildings, we moved onto something quite different. Next we toured Eastern State Penitentiary which was in operation from 1829 to 1971. It was quite radical when it was first built because it considered that wrong-doers could be rehabilitated instead of just punished. I'm not so sure that their ideas of total solitary confinement for the prisoners to contemplate their wrong doings worked out so well in the end, but their systems was copied in many other places in the world.

After another interesting, but tiring day, we changed hotels to one outside of town. It's a little cheaper and calmer here than where we were in the city, but that location served us well as we were able to walk to may attractions.

Until next time...


Pictures from the Masonic Temple











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Pictures from City Hall










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Pictures from Eastern State Penitentiary









Escape tunnel from one of the cells



5 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. They were very elaborate. I could only take in a fraction of what there was to see.

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  2. The state pen sure is in sharp contrast to the other buildings! It looks like you're having a wonderful trip!

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    Replies
    1. We are having a great time. It's great for all of us to be together.

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  3. I guess we never toured the penitentiary when I lived in Philly as a child because it was still being used as a jail! One of my favorite things was visiting Billy Penn at the top of City Hall. Couldn't go into Center City without making that pilgrimage. I loved that rickety elevator! You can find out more about the Gentleman's Agreement that kept Billy at the top of Philly for so long at this blog: http://www.phillyhistory.org/blog/index.php/2013/06/how-high-was-up-a-history-of-philadelphias-gentlemans-agreement/

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