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Philadelphia is a charming city where ancient and contemporary meet, where adults and children alike can spend their days fascinated by unique museums and historic sites. It’s a great choice for a family trip during winter break.

 

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The Mint

In 1792 Philadelphia, then capital of the United States ,was chosen to house the first United States Mint. This was shortly after The Coinage Act, which regulated the coins of the country, was passed. Three buildings housed the Mint before it settled into its current location at 151 North Independence Hall in 1969. Back then it was the world’s largest mint.

More than 2,800 employees work at six United States Mint facilities. One facility is a depository, one is the Mint’s Headquarters, and four produce coin products. The Philadelphia Mint can produce up to one million coins in 30 minutes.The mint also produces medals and awards for the military, governmental, and civil services.

During the tours all stages of current coin manufacturing are explained, as well as the history of coins, and there are displays of past equipment. The tour takes place via an enclosed catwalk above the minting facility itself. Assorted stations are situated along the tour route where visitors can watch videos about variousstages of the minting process. Touring the United States Mint is a fascinating experience for all ages and one that will be remembered for a lifetime.

 

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell is a symbol of American independence. The bell was made in London by the Lester and Pack firm in 1752, and was engraved with the words, “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Vayikra 25:10 where the Chumash discusses Yovel). It cracked when first hung shortly after its arrival in Philadelphia, and was twice recast by local workmen John Pass and John Stow, whose last names appear on the bell. In its early years, the Liberty Bell was used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and to alert citizens to public meetings and proclamations.

The bell became famous after a story printed in 1847 claimed that an aged bell-ringer rang it on July 4, 1776, upon hearing the results of the of the Second Continental Congress‘s vote for independence. Even though the bell probably did not ring for independence on that July 4, the tale was widely accepted as fact. Beginning in 1885, the City of Philadelphia, which owns the bell, allowed it to be taken to various patriotic gatherings. The bell attracted huge crowds wherever it went. During its extensive travels additional cracking occurred and pieces were chipped away by souvenir hunters. In 1915, the city started refusing further requests to lend the bell.

After World War II, the city allowed the National Park Service to take custody of the bell, while retaining ownership. The bell was used as a symbol of freedom during the Cold War and was a popular site for protests in the 1960s. It was moved from Independence Hall to Independence Mall in 1976, and then to the larger Liberty Bell Center adjacent to the pavilion in 2003. The bell has been featured on coins and stamps.

Please Touch Museum

It opened over three decades ago and has welcomed more than two million visitors. Today the Please Touch Museum has become one of the nation’s premier children’s museums. The museum offers a hands-on environment in which “learning is child’s play” and aims to enrich the lives of children from all over the country by creating learning opportunities through play.

Located in the Memorial Hall – a National Historic Landmark built in 1876 – the Please Touch Museum works to bring together the past, present and future through six interactive exhibit zones across 157,000 square feet, including four areas specifically designed for children 3 and younger. This award-winning children’s museum is fun-filled, totally hands-on, and so delightful that adults are entertained, too.

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S. Y. Einhorn is a teacher and mother of four who lives in Monsey, NY. She does both writing and photography as a hobby. Her articles and photos of her extensive travels have been published in various magazines and newspapers.