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Following in Rocky's Steps

A morning sightseeing in Philadelphia

sunny 31 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

Before going to watch the Philadelphia Phillies Baseball Team play the Milwaukee Brewers in the afternoon there was just enough time to get a bit more sightseeing done in Philadelphia, I had to see where Rocky was filmed!

But first we did a bit more history by going to see Congress Hall, the only building around Independence Square I didn't manage to see on my previous visit. Philadelphia was the original capital of the USA when there were just 13 states with Congress Hall being used as the Capital Building from 1790 until US government moved to Washington DC in 1800. During this time 3 new states - Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee - were admitted.

The House Chamber on the ground floor of Congress Hall

The House Chamber on the ground floor of Congress Hall


The Senate Chamber on the upper floor of Congress Hall

The Senate Chamber on the upper floor of Congress Hall


The Senate Chamber at Congress Hall including the carpet with the shields of the original 13 states

The Senate Chamber at Congress Hall including the carpet with the shields of the original 13 states

The House Chamber has mahogany desks and eventually accommodated 106 representatives from the 16 states; the Senate Chamber is more ornate with red drapes and 32 secretary desks (28 of which are original) very similar to the desks that are still used in the current Senate chamber in Washington DC. There are portraits of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, gifts from the French monarchy following the American Revolution, hanging in the adjoining committee rooms.

Portrait of Louis XVI (a gift from the French Monarchy) in a committee room next to the Senate Chamber

Portrait of Louis XVI (a gift from the French Monarchy) in a committee room next to the Senate Chamber


Portrait of Marie Antoinette (a gift from the French Monarchy) in the other committee room next to the Senate Chamber

Portrait of Marie Antoinette (a gift from the French Monarchy) in the other committee room next to the Senate Chamber

On the far side of Independence Square with their corners just touching is Washington Square, the south-east quadrant of the five original planned squares laid out on the city grid for William Penn, the founder of the city. Originally used as a burial ground for citizens and troops from the Colonial army and then as pasture, it is now the site of the tomb and eternal flame of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution in Washington Square

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution in Washington Square


The central fountain and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square

The central fountain and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square

The oldest residential street in the USA is believed to be the cobblestoned Elfreth's Alley in Philadelphia. Its 33 brick houses were originally built circa 1702 and despite being registered as a historic landmark are still privately owned; a few of them had 'for sale' notices which did somewhat spoilt the historical effect!

Elfreth's Alley - the oldest residential street in the USA

Elfreth's Alley - the oldest residential street in the USA


Water pump in Bladen's Court just off Elfreth's Alley

Water pump in Bladen's Court just off Elfreth's Alley

A short distance away was the Betsy Ross House built about 1740. Betsy Ross is credited with sewing the original Stars and Stripes US Flag in her bedchamber while under risk of being arrested by the British for treason. The house is furnished to look like it would have done at the time of the American Revolution; complete with a very enthusiastic actor pretending to be Betsy Ross who was offering to take on new sewing commissions!

The Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia

The Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia


Betsy Ross' bedchamber where she sewed the first Stars and Stripes

Betsy Ross' bedchamber where she sewed the first Stars and Stripes


The actor playing Betsy Ross offering to take on new sewing commissions

The actor playing Betsy Ross offering to take on new sewing commissions

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the USA containing over 227,000 objects of which probably the most famous is Van Gogh's painting of a Vase with twelve Sunflowers. However what I really wanted to see were the iconic 72 stone steps out front that featured in the 1976 film Rocky and four of its sequels! A bronze statue of Rocky now stands near the bottom of the steps, both of which were popular locations for tourists such as myself to jump around with fists raised above their heads doing Rocky impressions!

The Washington Monument with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Rocky Steps behind

The Washington Monument with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Rocky Steps behind


The grand stairway leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The grand stairway leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art


Me doing my Rocky impression by the Rocky Balboa Statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Me doing my Rocky impression by the Rocky Balboa Statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art


The view down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The view down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The mile long Benjamin Franklin Parkway from the Rocky Steps back into the city centre is a very scenic boulevard lined with museums and bedecked with the flags of 109 countries modelled after the Champs Elysees in Paris. Amongst the museums is the Rodin Museum which contains the largest collection of Auguste Rodin's sculptures outside Paris. This includes one of the 28 original castings of his famous statue The Thinker which sits outside in the museum's entry courtyard.

The view along the flag lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The view along the flag lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art


The statue of 'The Thinker' outside the Rodin Museum

The statue of 'The Thinker' outside the Rodin Museum


The UK Flag lining the Benjamin Franklin Parkway near the Logan Circle

The UK Flag lining the Benjamin Franklin Parkway near the Logan Circle

Midway along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is the Swann Memorial Fountain in the Logan Circle with 3 sculptures of native American figures representing the local Wissahickon, Schaylkill and Delaware rivers spurting out water at its base. Even closer to the city centre is the John F Kennedy Plaza aka Love Square; so called because of the iconic fountain-side 'LOVE' sculpture by Robert Indiana placed there in 1976 which I somehow managed to totally miss despite being evidently having stood directly beneath it taking photographs!

The Swann Memorial Fountain midway along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

The Swann Memorial Fountain midway along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway


Philadelphia City Hall behind the Love Park Fountain

Philadelphia City Hall behind the Love Park Fountain


View back along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art... from beside the iconic LOVE statue which I somehow managed to totally miss!

View back along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art... from beside the iconic LOVE statue which I somehow managed to totally miss!

At the city end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the middle of Penn Square is the majestic 548 feet (167 metre) tall City Hall completed in 1901. It's the tallest masonry structure in the world without a steel frame and is topped by a 37 feet (11.2 metre) high bronze statue of William Penn.

Philadelphia City Hall in the middle of Penn Square

Philadelphia City Hall in the middle of Penn Square

For many years there had been a gentleman's agreement in Philadelphia that no building taller than this statue would EVER be erected. Then in 1987 One Liberty Place (945 feet - 288 metres) was built breaching this rule and the idea of "the Curse of Billy Penn" took hold as all the professional sports teams based in Philadelphia (baseball, ice hockey, basketball and American football) failed to win any championships. Then in 2007 the Comcast Building (974 feet - 297 metre) was built with a small statue of William Penn amid much ridicule placed on top, the following year the Philadelphia Phillies won Baseball's 2008 World Series - was the superstition of the curse true after all?

Close up of William Penn's Statue on top of Philadelphia City Hall - was the 'Curse of Billy Penn' true?

Close up of William Penn's Statue on top of Philadelphia City Hall - was the 'Curse of Billy Penn' true?

Time go and see, in the afternoon we had tickets to watch the Philadelphia Phillies play against the Milwaukee Brewers :)

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged museums city philadelphia us_east_coast film_locations external_links

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