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Yesterday in Philadelphia was all about the food, so today we dedicated ourselves to discovering the role that Philadelphia has played in US history. Both of us knew about the main attractions/events like the Liberty Bell and the signing of the Constitution, but we were actually very surprised to understand just how much of the American way of life is revealed in the city.
The morning started with a spontaneous walk through Chinatown. As Dani was taking shots of the friendship gate, I was eavesdropping on a pair of women – one black, mid-40s, the other Chinese-American, early 70s – discussing the plight of the Irish during the potato famine, each of their relatives who passed through Ellis Island, and current immigration policies. All this in the heart of Chinatown on a Wednesday morning.
The architecture of the charming buildings throughout the Old City and South Philly are gorgeous, and we were both so interested in the similarity to the streets of some neighborhoods of London.
Philly is very tourist-friendly, and in addition to what must be a multi-million dollar Independence Visitors Center, these Walk! Philadelphia signs guided us around the city. What caught our eye about these signs is just how much they represent the principles on which America was founded. The religious freedom which attracted both the Quakers like Mr. Penn who founded Pennsylvania and Jewish settlers is prevalent, along with the melting pot of cultures in Philly which are celebrated prominently alongside a more textbook look at American history, including like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Constitution Center and the U.S. Mint.
Philly is also playful, artistic and cosmopolitan… the mosaics, the street art, and music played on so many street corners, like Geoffrey here outside of Reading Terminal Market…
And before we left Philadelphia for Washington DC, we stopped to eat again at the Reading Terminal Market. We loved the variety of food there – Classic Philly cheese steaks (not for us vegetarians though), quite possibly the world’s best cookies, Mexican, Vegan, Indian and this very funny fish restaurant below.
No question about it – we will definitely be back in Philadelphia again one day soon! The city is a historical gem and a true reflection of the melting pot that is America! We write tonight from Washington, DC. We’ll be exploring the nation’s capital for the next two days, so stay tuned for more about our Great American Road Trip 2011 as we make our way from New York to New Orleans.