I walked down by Independence Hall one morning, but decided not to go in, since I had seen it on my last trip to Philly several years ago, and it would involve going over to the Park Service building and getting a ticket (which I think was free but might have been timed entry or otherwise inconvenient) and then waiting in line with the busloads of schoolchildren and no doubt going through rigorous security. Since I am an angry-looking bearded man I tend to get extra scrutiny. I saw the Liberty Bell on my last trip and I had to take off my shoes and belt and have a metal detector run over me and delightfully ironic though that was, I felt I could skip it this time.
Practically across the street from Independence Hall is the Bourse, which as its name indicates was a stock exchange. It was built in 1895 and is elaborately ornate in the manner approved of by Gilded Age money.
There might be some offices there now, but it's mostly taken up by a large food court and shops clearly aimed at the busloads of tourists. If you're looking for a place to buy a mug/t-shirt/mousepad/whatever showing Ben Franklin saying "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" then you've hit the motherload. One entire shop window was taken up by variations on that theme.
I went in because I was learning to use my new camera and wanted some shots of the building, and also because last time I was there at least one of the restaurants had served fairly healthy food. That place was long gone and I ended up not eating anywhere in the Bourse. I'm not all that picky (I think), but there are things I just don't need to eat and places where I don't need to eat them. I think the august architecture makes the food choices look even more awful than they might in another context.
The real highlight in the area is in the lobby of the Curtis Publishing Building, home of The Ladies' Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post. It's a vast mosaic designed by Maxfield Parrish and executed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and the Tiffany Studios.
Unfortunately I had not figured out how to use my camera's panorama function, so I couldn't get one shot of the whole thing, but if you're in Philadelphia and like either of those artists (or just color), you should go to the elegant lobby and check out the Dream Garden these artists invented.
The Beethoven Project
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