It’s the day before the start of the Organ Historical Society in Philadelphia and I decided to play tourist before the onslaught of organ recitals. It only took me 11,022 steps to do a one-day tour! High up on my list to things to see was the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Sam Lam (an organist in Honolulu) is the only other person from Hawaii at this convention so we started off the day together, riding the bus to the visitor center at Independence National Historical Park. By the way, we found out that our Medicare cards were the ticket for a free ride on the city bus!
From the museum you walk through on the way to the Liberty Bell, I learned that the bell is considered a symbol of freedom and is associated with the abolition of slavery. The original Liberty Bell was cast in 1751 by the Whitechapel Foundry of London (which I know as a handbell builder) and developed a crack on its first ring. It was melted down and a new bell cast locally in Philadelphia by John Pass and John Stow. It was used for almost 90 years before it developed its telltale crack and was attempted to be repaired. A second crack developed, though, and it was never rung again. Digital computer modeling attempted to approximate the sound of the bell which you can hear by clicking here.
When I saw the Liberty Bell, I told Sam I was so shocked to see that it was so small! It reminded me of when I saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre — it too was a lot smaller than I had imagined.
We also took a tour of Independence Hall where we visited the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where Thomas Jefferson sat with the state of Virginia representatives. We were told about the “Committee of Five” who worked on the draft of the Declaration of Independence: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman. I told Sam, I didn’t know that Roger Sherman had a namesake! (Roger Sherman was a long-time friend and colleague of composer and our business partner Peter Hallock, and CEO of Loft organ and choral recordings—obviously not the same one who drafted the Declaration!)
Lunch followed at the Red Owl Tavern and I was determined to taste a real Philly cheesesteak — yum!
Sam ended up going back to the hotel to rest, and I continued my tour to the Dolley Todd House and the Bishop White House. Dolley was the young widow of John Todd, a lawyer, who died of yellow fever, leaving her with two sons, one of whom died also. She remarried James Madison, who became the fourth U.S. President. I really enjoyed visiting this house, and the one next door belonging to Bishop White, who helped to found the American Episcopal Church. Bishop White’s house had a real luxury — an “indoor” outhouse!
I walked up several blocks to the U. S. Mint and went on a self-guided tour where coins are manufactured; then took a 2-hour bus ride on the Philadelphia Phlash which is one of those hop-on, hop-off vehicles. Again my Medicare card gave me the ticket to ride for free. Here, enjoy some of the pictures I took: