Tourist Walk in Olde Philadelphia

You've seen the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Come now on a tour of the city the Founding Brothers lived in, a smaller city than today which they knew intimately. Their Colonial Philadelphia can be seen in a day's walk through the center of town.

Philadelphians are a trifle irked that most visitors to the city don't even stay overnight, reflecting the unspoken belief that everything worth seeing is clustered around the Liberty Bell. That's like saying you have seen London if you see Big Ben on Westminster, or that the Empire State Building is all there is to New York. Grr.

On the other hand, you haven't seen anything at all unless you do see Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the old Eighteenth Century buildings in Society Hill. We've here put together a walking tour of the Olde Towne, intending to show the most notable attractions in the shortest possible route. It will take all day, and your feet will be sore by the time you are done. But at least you will have seen -- and possibly photographed -- the real essence of the place the founding fathers saw, in one day's brisk walk.

If you are from out of town, you will have to park the car and ransom it at the end of the day. If you are a local person, this tour assumes you came by public transportation and will go home the same way. For example, come in from New Jersey by PATCO the high-speed line to 8th and Market Streets. Or else come in from the suburbs by SEPTA the suburban rail line network, and get off at 11th and Market Streets. Or by the Frankford elevated from North Philadelphia to 8th and Market, or from West Philadelphia by the same line coming to the same stop.

Regardless of how you get there, start at the new Constitution Center at 6th and Arch (it has an underground garage) by walking to it, past or through the Mellon Center from public transportation, then through the Visitor's Center at 6th and Market. The Visitor Center has a gift shop, lunch room, toilets, and a few meeting rooms; mostly, it is a place for visitors to stay out of the rain. As you go by the corner of 6th and Arch, notice the place where John and Ethel and all those other Barrymores used to live.

I'm afraid there is an entrance fee to the Constitution Center at Sixth and Arch, and photography is limited to the hall of statues of signers. That's worth a fee if you are a serious photographer, otherwise perhaps not. The hourly show in the rotunda is unfortunately a little overdramatic.