This 4th of July, Celebrate Where America Began … Philadelphia

Photo by G. Widman for GPTMC

Fourth of July celebrations will take place all across the United States with special events, concerts, and other patriotic events. However, Philadelphia, where America began 242 years ago, is the place to celebrate Independence Day.

In addition to visiting the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross House, and Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Philadelphia has some world-class museums including the National Constitution Center and the recently opened Museum of the American Revolution.

Image: National Constitution Center

In addition to celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the 14th Amendment, the National Constitution Center offers a number of events this year including All-American Celebration and Finding the Founders Scholarly Talks and Walking Tours.

Image: National Constitution Center

Starting this Thursday, June 28, and running through Wednesday, July 4, this year’s annual All-American Celebration on Independence Mall, will include a number of family-friendly programs including historic character meet and greets – where visitors can interact with famous figures from history, including Founding Fathers like Ben Franklin and George Washington, 18th century games, arts and craft activities, colonial dress up stations, and more.

On Monday, July 2, from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., the National Constitution Center will present Finding the Founders Scholarly Talks and Walking Tours provides an expanded understanding of Independence Day — one that sees the holiday as both a celebration and an acknowledgment of America’s ongoing struggle to achieve the ideals expressed in the nation’s founding documents. This year, the talks will celebrate Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, in conjunction with the Center’s newest exhibit Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation. In addition to commemorating the 150th anniversary of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees to all persons equal protection under the law. This tour is free, however it does not include museum access.

Image: National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center is located at 525 Arch Street on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall. The Center is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays, however there are extended hours on Thursday, June 28, Monday, July 2, and Tuesday, July 3, extended museum hours, 9:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. and regular museum hours on Friday, June 29 – Sunday, July 1, and Wednesday, July 4. General Admission: Adults $14.50; Youth (6-18) $11; Students w/ID and Seniors $13. Members, active military personnel, and children ages 5 and under are free.

For more information, call 215-409-6700 or visit

Image: Museum of the American Revolution

Located at the opposite end of Independence Mall is the Museum of the American Revolution. The museum, which opened last spring, features an amazing  collection of several thousand objects including artwork and sculpture, textiles and weapons, manuscripts and rare books chronicling the story of the American Revolution. Among the museum’s vast collection are items owned and used by General George Washington during the War of Independence, including the tent Washington used as his office and sleeping quarters.

Currently on display, through November, is a one-of-a-kind artifact – one of the first printed versions of the Declaration of Independence, a broadside printed on parchment by Philadelphian John Dunlap in July 1776.

According to press notes, “This marks the first time the broadside has ever been displayed outside the walls of American Philosophical Society Library (APS), the institution that has loaned it to the Museum.”

One of the first printed versions of the Declaration of Independence
Image: Museum of the American Revolution

“The broadside belonged to David Rittenhouse, the Philadelphia astronomer and vice president of the convention that drafted Pennsylvania’s state constitution in 1776. It descended from Rittenhouse’s family to physician James Mease, who donated it to the American Philosophical Society in 1828.”

John Dunlap, an Irish immigrant, printed this document, as well as the first public versions of the Declaration on the night of July 4, 1776.  Typically these broadsides were printed on paper, however this one is printed on vellum or parchment and features oversized print.

Image: Museum of the American Revolution

The printing will be displayed in a cylindrical case in the Museum’s Declaration of Independence Gallery. The display is free with regular Museum admission. In addition, the Museum will offer music, costumed interpreters and other festivities throughout July 4th weekend.

The Museum of the American Revolution is at 101 S. Third Street and is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with extended hours on from July 1 – 4, from 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. General Admission: Adults $19, Youth (6-17 years of age) $12, Seniors (65 & up), Military Personnel, Students, and Teachers $17, and Children (5 and under) and Museum Members are free.

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