When it opened in 1829 Eastern State Penitentiary was one of the largest prison facilities built in the country. The penitentiary experimented with previously unheard ideas of incarceration that prioritized reformation over punishment. A form of solitary confinement was the rule, on the theory inmates would use the time for prayer, reflection and penitence. Despite the cost and efforts taken, the system was not a success and numerous challenges finally led it to close in the 1970s, but not before inspiring numerous similar prison systems around the world. Inmates formerly incarcerated here include arch-criminal Al Capone and bank robber Willie Horton. Although it stands today in crumbling condition, visitors will find it fascinating to explore the vaulted cell blocks and central rotunda.
Philadelphia's South Street is home to one of the most remarkable creations of art in the city. Known as the Magic Gardens, this work by artist Isaiah Zagar spans almost an entire block and engulfs everything in sight including the pathways and building walls. The continuously evolving work is a colourful riot and incorporates tiles, bottles, bicycle tires, spokes; pretty much anything you could think of. With this stunning landscape and installations, the artist draws you into his world for a peek into his mind. This one is not to be missed.
Spreading across 9200 acres (3723.11 hectares) with 63 parks, Fairmount Park is among the biggest city park systems in the nation. It features picturesque trails, rolling hills, streams, historical structures, woodlands, public arts and more. The Centennial Arboretum, Horticulture Center, Japanese House and Garden and Philadelphia Museum of Art are some of the interesting sites located in this massive expanse. It also has recreational centers and sporting fields.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art features over 240,000 objects filled with treasures spanning across continents and cultures, drawn from a collection of more than 400,000 works of art like prints, drawings and photographs. The huge stone edifice of the museum, supported by majestic Doric columns, looks over the Schuylkill River. Scale the steps made famous in the 'Rocky' movies.
A jewel of the Independence National Historic Park, the Liberty Bell spans layers and layers of long-standing history. In 1751, William Penn asked that the new bell being cast for the Pennsylvania Statehouse be engraved with the words, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” When the bell first rang to call citizens to the first reading of the Declaration of Independence, little did it know that it was going to change the course of the country forever. It was later dubbed the 'Liberty Bell' by abolitionists, who adopted the bell as a symbol of their fight for freedom for all Americans. A copper-clad, 2,080-pound (940-kilogram) icon of American independence, The Liberty Bell yet serves as a symbol of pride, inspiration and freedom.
Few artistic geniuses have captured the human form and condition in sculpture-like Auguste Rodin. Marvel at perhaps his most famous work, The Thinker, and wonder at the introspective nature of man and the might that is thought and creation. The Kiss and other noteworthy sculptures are also on hand including his last work, Gates of Hell. Apart from the French Rodin Musee, the Philadelphia locale is considered the largest collection of his masterpieces.
Gothic and neoclassical influences dominate the features of City Hall. The statue of William Penn that resides atop City Hall's clock tower remains a Philadelphia skyline marker—until the 1980s there was a "gentleman's agreement" that no Philadelphia building would be built higher than the rim of Penn's hat. City Hall provides a majestic backdrop for shoppers and businesspersons alike as it is situated on the intersection of the city's two main arteries, Broad and Market Streets. The tour of the City Hall lasts for 1.5 to 2 hours.
Philadelphia's history is deeply entwined with America's revolutionary period, the home to luminary Benjamin Franklin and the site of significant civic development for the then-fledgeling nation. The land changed hands repeatedly, first inhabited by the Lenape tribe before being seized by Dutch, Swedish and Finnish settlers. After several periods of conflict between these north European states, the territory was conquered by England. Philadelphia was instrumental to the early days of America's independence, an epoch-making past manifested in historic landmarks like the Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Notable resident Benjamin Franklin also made his mark on the civic landscape of America, founding the town's fire department and the colonies' first hospital. While Philadelphia's historic beginnings are undeniably significant, the city, which lies at the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, is also celebrated for its innate charm. One may find it in the urbane magic of Rittenhouse Square, in the gastronomical high that comes from biting into an authentic Philly Cheese Steak, or on the quiet cobbled streets of its leafy Old City. A historic city with a modern heart, Philadelphia is for those who want to connect with the landscape of America's revolution.
A dozen of international and domestic Tall Ships sail at the waterfront of Delaware River. This venue can be visited using a pass that provides access to the festival grounds, on board ship tours and unlimited activities in both Philadelphia and Camden. During the festival time, this waterfront is packed with loads of entertainment including dance, music, demonstrations, sail training and display of wide variety of crafty items.
Philadelphia Center for Architecture gives you a chance to learn about the city's magnificent architecture through guided tours. Throughout the tour, their learned guides will acquaint you with the architectural styles that were used in the construction of PA Academy of the Arts, Reading Terminal, City Hall, the Wanamaker building, the Union League Building and Comcast Center, with comparisons drawn from architecture in Chicago and New York. The tour also talks about the city's transportation and planning, and lets you enjoy a bird's-eye view of the historic city from certain platforms.
A bright and vibrant paradise for your little ones, Nest is located in the Center City area of Philly. It is a wonderful combination of a lot of things - an indoor playground, activity center, toy store, parents' lounge and party venue, among many others. Spread over three levels, the place covers an area of about 10,000 square feet (929.03 square meters), and provides just the perfect backdrop where your children can not only learn enriching cultural activities such as music, dance, karate and ballet, to name a few, but also learn more about group-play and socialization. They also have classes for new parents and soon-to-be-parents.
This has been the jewel of the Philadelphia culture scene since it opened in 1857. The simple brick Federalist exterior opens into an ornate interior—art deco lamps, velvet cushions, and possibly the largest chandelier on the East Coast. The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pennsylvania Ballet, the opera and the occasional pop show have performed at the academy. There is some criticism about the acoustics and sight lines, but none of this matters. This is where the big shows are.