City of historical love

Amer­ic­an his­tory can be fun? Sure, and what bet­ter city than Philly, the birth­place of the na­tion, to make sure tour­ists — and Phil­adelphi­ans — get the most out of vis­it­ing his­tor­ic sites.

There is plenty to see and do in and around the city. And some his­tor­ic­ally fam­ous per­son­al­it­ies will be hanging around, too.

Across the street from In­de­pend­ence Hall and the Liberty Bell, the His­tor­ic Phil­adelphia Cen­ter will be fea­tur­ing the 15-minute 3-D film, Liberty 360. The movie sur­rounds the audi­ence with his­tory and is guided by Ben­jamin Frank­lin.

And, in real life, sort of, cos­tumed in­ter­pret­ers called “his­tory makers” will es­cort vis­it­ors around his­tor­ic sites. The his­tory makers, who stud­ied and re­hearsed for weeks, will be on the job un­til Labor Day. 

“His­tory makers … work hard to cre­ate memor­ies for every­one who ex­per­i­ences our of­fer­ings,” said Amy Needle, His­tor­ic Phil­adelphia’s CEO and pres­id­ent.

Some of the his­tor­ic­al per­son­ages walk­ing and talk­ing with vis­it­ors will be Betsy Ross, Ben Frank­lin and fam­ous 19th-cen­tury Phil­adelphi­an Octavi­us Catto, a black edu­cat­or and civil-rights ad­voc­ate. Catto is the new­est of His­tor­ic Phil­adelphia’s “his­tory makers.” 

At 3:45 p.m. each day, those fam­ous people will read the De­clar­a­tion of In­de­pend­ence be­hind In­de­pend­ence Hall.

Every day at 10 a.m., there will be a flag-rais­ing at the Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch St. A dra­mat­ic read­ing of the Con­sti­tu­tion can be en­joyed at noon at In­de­pend­ence Mall.  Kids can join the Con­tin­ent­al Army at 2 and 3 p.m.

The Co­lo­ni­al Kids Quest Tour, which began on May 28, re­cruits young­sters to help solve the mys­tery of a miss­ing De­clar­a­tion of In­de­pend­ence. The Kids Quest Tour runs through Sept. 3.

The In­de­pend­ence After Hours Even­ing Ad­ven­ture Tour is a walk­ing tour of the city’s his­tor­ic land­marks and al­lows vis­it­ors in­side In­de­pend­ence Hall at night. This tour in­cludes din­ner at the City Tav­ern. This late-night tour is offered Fri­days and Sat­urdays through Oct. 22. There are ad­di­tion­al tours Tues­days through Thursdays from June 14 to Aug. 11.

And then there is the very adult Tip­plers’ Tour, a jour­ney among loc­al wa­ter­ing holes. A host will talk about Co­lo­ni­al-era drink­ing tra­di­tions and lead guests in drink­ing songs and toasts, with drinks and snacks at four loc­a­tions in Old City.

His­tor­ic Phil­adelphia’s pro­grams won’t be lim­ited to top­ics of the Re­volu­tion­ary War or the Co­lo­ni­al era. The city played a role in the Civil War and in the Un­der­ground Rail­road, the secret net­work that helped guide es­caped slaves to free­dom.

Through Labor Day, vis­it­ors will have a chance to meet Civil War “his­tory makers” at 13 benches set up at spots throughout the city’s his­tor­ic dis­trict and hear about the two Phil­adelphi­ans who were gen­er­als on op­pos­ite sides dur­ing the Civil War — George Gor­don Meade and John C. Pem­ber­ton.

This year is the 150th an­niversary of the start of the Civil War, and all sum­mer long, His­tor­ic Phil­adelphia will host events re­lated to the war. A Civil War Week­end  lanned for Ju­ly 1 to Ju­ly 4 will fea­ture a stop at Frank­lin Square by the state’s trav­el­ing Civil War Road Show.  

The road show of­fers a look at how Pennsylvani­ans con­trib­uted to the War Between the States. It is in an ex­pand­able 53-foot 18-wheel­er and fea­tures in­ter­act­ive dis­plays. Vis­it­ors can glimpse scenes of camp and home life.

Civil War Week­end hours at Frank­lin Square, Sixth and Race streets, are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Ju­ly 1 and 2, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Ju­ly 3 and 4. Ad­mis­sion will be charged.  For more in­form­a­tion about Civil War Sum­mer or any of His­tor­ic Phil­adelphia’s pro­grams, call 215-629-4026 or vis­it his­tor­ic­phil­

It’s also worth not­ing that the Na­tion­al Con­sti­tu­tion Cen­ter is bring­ing George Wash­ing­ton back to Phil­adelphia — with a mod­ern twist.

Make that tweet.

The cen­ter, at 525 Arch St., will be present­ing an ex­hib­i­tion, Dis­cov­er the Real George Wash­ing­ton: New Views from Mount Ver­non, from Ju­ly 1 to Sept. 5. But un­til the show starts, the first pres­id­ent will tweet daily with clues about his where­abouts in and around the city. 

Fol­low George at @Georgein­Philly as he re­vis­its his fa­vor­ite places and shares some per­son­al stor­ies through Sept. 17.

Start­ing June 4 and on every Sat­urday un­til the show of­fi­cially be­gins in Ju­ly, Wash­ing­ton will make ap­pear­ances at sites that held mean­ing for him dur­ing his time in Phil­adelphia. He’ll be at the Brandy­wine Battle His­tor­ic Site on June 4 and at Val­ley Forge on June 25. Oth­er ap­pear­ances will be an­nounced.

For more in­form­a­tion, call 215-409-6700 or vis­it www.con­sti­tu­tion­cen­ ••

(For more de­tails on all his­tory-re­lated events, call the His­tor­ic Phil­adelphia Cen­ter at 215-629-4026 or stop by at 600 Chest­nut St.)

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