American history can be fun? Sure, and what better city than Philly, the birthplace of the nation, to make sure tourists — and Philadelphians — get the most out of visiting historic sites.
There is plenty to see and do in and around the city. And some historically famous personalities will be hanging around, too.
Across the street from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, the Historic Philadelphia Center will be featuring the 15-minute 3-D film, Liberty 360. The movie surrounds the audience with history and is guided by Benjamin Franklin.
And, in real life, sort of, costumed interpreters called “history makers” will escort visitors around historic sites. The history makers, who studied and rehearsed for weeks, will be on the job until Labor Day.
“History makers . . . work hard to create memories for everyone who experiences our offerings,” said Amy Needle, Historic Philadelphia’s CEO and president.
Some of the historical personages walking and talking with visitors will be Betsy Ross, Ben Franklin and famous 19th-century Philadelphian Octavius Catto, a black educator and civil-rights advocate. Catto is the newest of Historic Philadelphia’s “history makers.”
At 3:45 p.m. each day, those famous people will read the Declaration of Independence behind Independence Hall.
Every day at 10 a.m., there will be a flag-raising at the Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch St. A dramatic reading of the Constitution can be enjoyed at noon at Independence Mall. Kids can join the Continental Army at 2 and 3 p.m.
The Colonial Kids Quest Tour, which began on May 28, recruits youngsters to help solve the mystery of a missing Declaration of Independence. The Kids Quest Tour runs through Sept. 3.
The Independence After Hours Evening Adventure Tour is a walking tour of the city’s historic landmarks and allows visitors inside Independence Hall at night. This tour includes dinner at the City Tavern. This late-night tour is offered Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 22. There are additional tours Tuesdays through Thursdays from June 14 to Aug. 11.
And then there is the very adult Tipplers’ Tour, a journey among local watering holes. A host will talk about Colonial-era drinking traditions and lead guests in drinking songs and toasts, with drinks and snacks at four locations in Old City.
Historic Philadelphia’s programs won’t be limited to topics of the Revolutionary War or the Colonial era. The city played a role in the Civil War and in the Underground Railroad, the secret network that helped guide escaped slaves to freedom.
Through Labor Day, visitors will have a chance to meet Civil War “history makers” at 13 benches set up at spots throughout the city’s historic district and hear about the two Philadelphians who were generals on opposite sides during the Civil War — George Gordon Meade and John C. Pemberton.
This year is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and all summer long, Historic Philadelphia will host events related to the war. A Civil War Weekend lanned for July 1 to July 4 will feature a stop at Franklin Square by the state’s traveling Civil War Road Show.
The road show offers a look at how Pennsylvanians contributed to the War Between the States. It is in an expandable 53-foot 18-wheeler and features interactive displays. Visitors can glimpse scenes of camp and home life.
Civil War Weekend hours at Franklin Square, Sixth and Race streets, are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on July 1 and 2, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on July 3 and 4. Admission will be charged. For more information about Civil War Summer or any of Historic Philadelphia’s programs, call 215–629–4026 or visit historicphiladelphia.org.
It’s also worth noting that the National Constitution Center is bringing George Washington back to Philadelphia — with a modern twist.
Make that tweet.
The center, at 525 Arch St., will be presenting an exhibition, Discover the Real George Washington: New Views from Mount Vernon, from July 1 to Sept. 5. But until the show starts, the first president will tweet daily with clues about his whereabouts in and around the city.
Follow George at @GeorgeinPhilly as he revisits his favorite places and shares some personal stories through Sept. 17.
Starting June 4 and on every Saturday until the show officially begins in July, Washington will make appearances at sites that held meaning for him during his time in Philadelphia. He’ll be at the Brandywine Battle Historic Site on June 4 and at Valley Forge on June 25. Other appearances will be announced.
For more information, call 215–409–6700 or visit www.constitutioncenter.org ••
(For more details on all history-related events, call the Historic Philadelphia Center at 215–629–4026 or stop by at 600 Chestnut St.)