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Things to Do in Pennsylvania - page 2

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Eastern State Penitentiary
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18 Tours and Activities

Once the most famous prison in the world, Eastern State was initially renowned for its Enlightenment-inspired efforts to reform inmates rather than merely punish them. Eventually, this system was abandoned in favor of solitary confinement and a Death Row block. But the once-genteel penitentiary allowed one of its most notorious inmates, Prohibition-era gangster Al Capone, to keep a private cell with fine antiques and oriental carpets.

When Eastern State’s unique wagon-wheel-shaped building was completed in 1829, it was the most expensive public structure ever built. It was a tourist attraction from the start, and remains so today. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and closed in 1971, the building and its many art installations are consistently being restored and preserved by a variety of architects and artists.

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First Bank of the United States
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America’s founding father established their original government in Philadelphia after the winning the Revolutionary War, and among their goals to help build the nation was creating a single currency and found national bank. Today that bank still stands, and can be found on Independence Mall. Alexander Hamilton created the First Bank of the United States, and the Roman-style of the building was intentionally imposing. The building was completed in 1795, and it served as the nation’s first bank until 1811. Today the building is a National Historic Landmark; however, visitors can only explore the bank from the outside, as it is not open to the public.
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Second Bank of the United States
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Set within the Independence National Historical Park, this stately building was designed in 1818 by Philadelphia architect William Strickland, renowned for pioneering the Greek Revival movement in America. Based on the Parthenon in Greece, this was the original home of the country’s second national bank, which was discontinued with great vitriolic fanfare in 1836 by President Andrew Jackson, who feared the institution was gaining more economic power than the still-new United States itself.
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More Things to Do in Pennsylvania

United States Mint

United States Mint

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13 Tours and Activities
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South Street

South Street

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Love Park

Love Park

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Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

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Philadelphia Italian Market

Philadelphia Italian Market

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No trip to Philadelphia is complete without a stop at the Italian Market, one of the oldest open-air markets in the country. This South Philadelphia landmark is not only home to endless vendors hawking spices, fish produce and cured meats from their stalls, but it’s also home to two legendary Philly cheesesteak locations: Pat’s and Geno’s. And while the Italian heritage of the market still underlies the area, it’s far from Italian-only as many shops also cater to Philadelphia’s many diverse ethnic populations. Today the Italian Market is the perfect place to find everything from Vietnamese banh mi, to Korean barbeque and authentic Mexican food.
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Philadelphia Academy of Music

Philadelphia Academy of Music

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Philadelphia is home to plenty of old-school American history, and the roots of its local music scene run deep, too. Travelers in search of an elegant establishment showcasing some of the best international talent will find it all at the Academy of Music.

This unassuming building in the heart of Philadelphia is actually the nation’s oldest continually operational opera house. Its stunning interior houses a 5,000-pound chandelier and is modeled after Milan’s La Scala Opera House. In addition to being a destination for travelers seeking live, classical entertainment, the Academy of Music is a worthy stop for history buffs as well. The National Historic Landmark is the site where President Ulysses S. Grant was nominated for his second term and it’s the site where Martha Graham first performed “The Rite of Spring”. Visitors who arrive during the month of January can watch the Philadelphia Orchestra perform their anniversary concert.

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Penn's Landing

Penn's Landing

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Sandwiched between Columbus Boulevard and the Delaware River on the east side of Philadelphia, Penn's Landing is skinny in shape but important in stature. The waterfront area served as the 1682 landing spot for William Penn, founder of the Pennsylvania colony, making it a must-see spot for any American history buff.
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Philadelphia Chinatown

Philadelphia Chinatown

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Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park

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Society Hill

Society Hill

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Philadelphia Old City Hall

Philadelphia Old City Hall

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Barnes Foundation

Barnes Foundation

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Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square

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Dating to the late 17th century as part of William Penn’s original five-square city plan, this gracefully manicured park was renamed in 1825 for local astronomer, inventor and surveyor David Rittenhouse. Long one of Philadelphia’s most desirable addresses, in our modern era it’s surrounded by luxury apartments and shops.

Well connected to buses, the SEPTA rail and the trolley, the surrounding neighborhood is full of historic architecture and cultural institutions. Attractions include the Mütter Museum and the treasure-filled Rosenbach Museum & Library, as well as the Curtis Institute of Music. Look for the ornate Victorian House set at the northwest corner, and various bronze sculptures of animals scattered throughout the park.

The park is managed and supported by the Friends of Rittenhouse Square, a non-profit group who, among other activities, stages a series of free concerts in the park during the summer.

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