Philadelphia - A Birthplace of American Constitution and Democracy

Philadelphia or simply "Philly" as locals call it is one of those famous American cities I've been wanting to visit for quite...

Philadelphia or simply "Philly" as locals call it is one of those famous American cities I've been wanting to visit for quite some time now. And even though many people associate "Philadelphia" with the name of a cream cheese, Philadelphia is a beautiful city with a very rich history.

Let's talk about the numbers: Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania and the fifth largest city in the United States with an estimated population of over 1.5 million people.
Philadelphia is extremely interesting from a historical perspective. The two most important documents in American history were signed here: the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the US Constitution (1787). 
We made a stop in Philadelphia on our way from New Jersey's Atlantic coast to Toronto, so we only had about two hours for sightseeing. As you can imagine, it's nearly impossible to visit all the major attractions during this short period, so we focused only on the downtown core and left Independence Hall (the #1 attraction) for the next time.
Given its geographical location (on the way to Washington DC, Florida and other southern states along the Atlantic Ocean) and proximity to Toronto (some people might argue though), chances that we'll visit Philadelphia shortly are quite high. 
The downtown core is very picturesque and alive (at least during the day). Philadelphia's cityscape can definitely compete with the other American big players such as New York, Chicago and Boston.  
Based on the number of monuments and sculptures, Philadelphia is an inarguable leader in the USA. 
Perhaps, the most beautiful and magnificent building in Philadelphia is its City Hall. In my humble architectural rating of the American buildings, it's the strong winner that leaves the Capitol building in Washington DC behind in the honourable second place. When I look at the City Hall building, I feel like I'm somewhere in Europe, perhaps in Vienna or Prague. With all due respect to the US architectural styles, practicality always wins over the beauty in this country. So I think that this building definitely does not fit into the cityscape of a typical American city. 
The City Hall building was designed by John McArthur Junior and Thomas Walter. It took 30 years to build it - from 1871 to 1901. I'm not an expert in architectural styles, but according to Wikipedia, this building's style is called "Second Empire" in honour of the Second French Empire (1851-1870) where apparently this style was very popular. 
Interesting fact: the City Hall building was the tallest in the world between 1894 and 1908. A statue of William Penn, a founder of Pennsylvania sits on top of the main dome. 
There are quite a few other interesting buildings on the main square. Many of them are built in the Art Deco style which was extremely popular in the USA and Canada before the Great Depression. One of them is the Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station's building. 
Over the first half of the 20th century, Philadelphia was an industrial city. After the 1950s, it suffered the fate of all big industrial cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Baltimore. Once Philadelphia began to come at a loss, wealthy taxpayers and a strong middle class began to move to its suburbs which only exacerbated the economic situation in Philadelphia. But unlike other similar industrial cities, Philadelphia managed to survive and become a large educational and medical center. Its rich history helped attract mass tourism which accounted for 39 million visitors in 2013! However, there are still some big problems that Philadelphia is suffering from. One of them is crime.  
Ultra-modern skyscrapers and American classics coexist ones beside others. 
This statue is called "Government of the People". Author - Jacques Lipchitz. "As a symbol of democracy, the sculpture suggests a process of continual struggle, mutual support and dedication, and eventual triumph" (
One City Plaza. I like it. 
Historical McDonalds in the historical One City Plaza.
Another Art Deco representative - Residence Inn Philadelphia (right).
A subway entrance. I like the ones in New York more. Would you agree?
Great place to cool off on a hot summer day.
A statue for a pin - why not?
Monumental Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. 
Swann Memorial Fountain (also known as the Fountain of the Three Rivers, right) adorns Logan Square.
Summary: Philadelphia is well worth visiting, especially for those interested in American history and democracy. Stay tuned for other great places in the USA!

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