Sunday, September 18, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

One of the things it seems we've not gotten used to about living in the North is all of the history around us.  And when we say history, we mean old-school history.  It's amazing that most of the event that shaped our country are within a day's drive of us.  Our first trip to Philly proved to be pretty educational.
Tourists in Philly have to do at least two things: 1) have a cheese steak sandwich and 2) check out the Liberty Bell.  

The Liberty Bell
An iconic symbol of American Independence...with a big ol' crack smack down the middle.  The Liberty Bell is part of the National Park Service and is housed in a glass pavilion on the Independence Mall, just feet from it's original home of Independence Hall.  

Independence Hall
Created in 1752 and commissioned by the London firm of Lester and Pack for about $36, 400 in today's dollars, the bell was used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions from the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House.  It originally cracked after arriving to Philly and was first rung.  

The Liberty Bell didn't get it's name until around 1835.  Before that it was referred to as the Pass & Stow Bell, after the workmen who created it.  "Liberty Bell" caught on during the anti-slavery movement of the times.

BG & the LB
 During our tour, we learned that the Bell actually went on tour during from 1885 to 1915.  It's estimated that 12 million people saw the Bell on it journey!  The Bell criss-crossed the country seven times by train so folks could catch it at various celebrations.  After it came off tour, it was placed in a glass case in the tower of Independence Hall until 1975 when it was moved to it's location across the street.  

Lots of folks still wanna see the Bell
When the Park Service started working on a new home for the Liberty Bell in 2001, they uncovered a site that was once used by George Washington to house his slaves.  (How's that for irony?)  The site remains protected behind glass and is part of the exhibit.

What was once George Washington's slave quarters
Two attempts to repair the crack failed and it now hangs from what is believed to be it's original yoke, which is made from American Elm.  Weighing in at a heavy weight of 2,080 pounds, the sucker is made of 70% copper, 25% tin and the rest is a mix of lead, zinc, gold, silver and arsenic.  

Margie & the Bell
Probably the coolest fact we learned during our visit to the Liberty Bell...did you know that in 1915, the bell was tapped with mallets to produce sounds...which inaugurated transcontinental telephone service!  

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