Your Historic Philadelphia Itinerary
When Historic Philadelphia Inc.’s storytellers dip into their treasure trove of true stories, first-time visitors, returning Philly fans, and even locals get caught up in the drama of our nation’s heritage. Drop by the iconic curved Storytelling Benches and trained storytellers will whisk you back to other eras where you’ll rarely told stories about the lives of famous founders, courageous risk takers and everyday citizens who quietly went about making their mark on our country. And while many of these tales never made it into the history books, each thoroughly researched story will entertain and give a peek into America’s past.
Start your day raising the Stars & Stripes
At 10:30am every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Betsy or one of her History Maker friends emerges from the house where the first flag was sewn to raise the stars and stripes for all to see. During the ceremony, you’ll hear about the history of the flag and its role as a symbol of our nation. Join Betsy and the History Makers at the Betsy Ross House and be part of this patriotic tradition.
Take a historic adventure and hear the stories of Colonial America
Have a “history snack” at the Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches in the Betsy Ross House Courtyard. It is one of six storytelling benches located throughout historic Philadelphia where trained storytellers treat you to a “history snack,” a lively, short tale from America’s past. Most stories you probably never heard of but each one has been thoroughly researched for accuracy. Just look for the curved benches and then settle in for a free, three to five-minute trip into our nation’s history.
- Betsy Ross House sponsored by The George C and Esther Ann McFarland Foundation
231 Arch Street
- Behind Independence Hall
Walnut Street between 5th & 6th Streets
- Independence Visitor Center
Market Street between 5th & 6th Streets
- Franklin Court
Chestnut Street between 3rd & 4th Streets
- Franklin Square sponsored by Visit Philadelphia
Race Street between 5th & 6th Streets
- Signer’s Garden
5th & Chestnut Streets
Shade, Shakes and a Hole in One at Franklin Square
Take a break from getting all your steps in and chill out at Franklin Square, one of William Penn’s five original city squares. Catch some rays in the wide open green spaces or cool off in the shade. Whatever you choose, you can sit back and enjoy the fountain shows choreographed to some musical favorites including Dua Lupa’s “Levitating,” “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, “Firework” by Katy Perry and, of course, the theme from Rocky, “Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti. Nosh on one of SquareBurger’s specialties including burgers, fries, and the iconic CakeShake, a decadent milkshake with bits of Tastykake’s Butterscotch Krimpets. There are even gluten-free and vegetarian options. But before you leave, take a seat at the curved Storytelling Bench for a short peek into American history
Meet the Makers – HPI’s History Makers That Is
As you wind your way through America’s Most Historic Square Mile, don’t be surprised if you encounter folks dressed in knee breeches and mop caps. They are Historic Philadelphia’s Inc.’s History Makers, trained first –person interpreters who portray real people who walked the streets you walk today. Feel free to chat with them about their work, their families, their challenges and their triumphs. And while they might not recognize modern technology, they are happy to pose for a selfie (Tag @historicphilly and share your encounters!)
Then stop into the Historic Free Quaker Meeting House (entrance on 5th Street just south of Arch Street) where a History Maker explains the Quaker religion and its influence on America’s and Philadelphia’s history. You might even learn why Philadelphia’s nickname is the Quaker City!
“When in the course of human events . . . “
Now you can feel the power and the passion of the words that changed history. Each day, HPI’s History Makers deliver a stirring reading of the Declaration of Independence in the shadows of Independence Hall where our Founding Fathers proclaimed their freedom, risking “their lives, their fortune and their sacred honor.” Gather at 3:45 on the south side of Independence Hall by the statue of Commodore John Barry, father of the American Navy to join the rebellion.
Sun Down, Fun Up
At the end of the day, head back to historic Franklin Square. Tee off at the Philly-themed 18-hole mini-golf course. Hop aboard Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex or any of the other fanciful creatures on the Parx Liberty Carousel. Or just wind down as the lights and music and dancing waters come together in the choreographed fountain shows that run throughout the evening.
Once Upon A Nation experiences are created in partnership with Independence National Historical Park.