Destination PA: Independence Hall

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PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA (WBRE/WYOU) — The Keystone State is steeped in history, with Pennsylvania holding the distinction of being home to where our nation was born.

Philadelphia’s Independence Hall attracts millions of visitors each year. Khiree Stewart gives us a look at one of the most important buildings in U.S. history.

Millions of people come to Independence Hall in Old City each year. It’s commonly known as the birthplace of our country, but there’s so much more history here that a lot of people don’t know about. Let’s explore and check it out!

Luke Hopely is a park ranger with the National Park Service. Every year, Hopely says millions of people walk into Independence Hall and go on a journey through American history.

“Say you would’ve asked George Washington or Benjamin Franklin what this building was called. They would have known it as the Pennsylvania State House. However since it was a grand structure and PA is very centrally located it became a natural meeting point for all these different colonies,” Hopely said.

And like its namesake, this is the building where America declared its independence from Great Britain.

“In 1776, the second Continental Congress have a vote in this building that creates the United States of America,” Hopely said.

But that’s not all. 11 years later, the Constitutional Convention was held here.

“What emerges is what we still use today. 100 years later, the US Constitution,” Hopely said.

And Hopely says the words on the Constitution, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are three words that echo through American history.

“You will hear these words constantly pointed to by all different groups throughout American history who initially aren’t a part of those rights. The abolition movement, Frederick Douglass advocating against slavery and women’s suffrage movement,” Hopely said.

Across from Independence Hall is the Independence Mall. It’s an open area surrounded by historic buildings and artifacts, such as the Liberty Bell.

“It probably rang out to celebrate the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Eventually it cracks,” Hopely said.

You can still see that crack today. And across from that is Congress Hall, the oldest standing capitol building in the country.

“A lot of the famous Founding Fathers would have worked in this structure and it is also where John Adams was inaugurated to be the second president of the United States,” Hopely said.

Hopely says he thinks everyone should visit Independence Park once. His thinks history is important. Because like they say: Those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it.

“It gives us a little bit of insight into where we came from and what ideas were formulated and how we can learn from that,” Hopely said.

While you’re there, consider the Bourse Building and Penn’s Landing.

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