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Historic Philadelphia in 24 hours

  • By
  • April 4, 2017

The City of Brotherly Love: 

Experience historic Philly in 24 hours

Do your plans include an overnight stay in The City of Brotherly Love?

historic Philadelphia
historic Philadelphia’s skyline is a mix of architectural elements and styles.

Why historic Philadelphia? 

By far, Philadelphia is one of my favorites cities to visit.

“The City of Brotherly Love” tugs at my heart.

Whether you choose to take in the sights on foot or perched on a streetcar, be sure to detach from your electronic devices long enough to appreciate the modern and historic buildings that line Philadelphia’s wide streets. Keep your camera close by because there’s something for everyone, whether you’re tuned into people watching or architecture. Philadelphia offers an array of stunningly beautiful architectural gems.

You’ll find a list and descriptions of Philly’s treasures here and a rundown of the Top 10 Historical Buildings in Philly.

A thriving birthplace 

Are you aware Philadelphia’s history dates back to 1682? I also learned something new while researching the city’s rich history. Philly and I share a birthday. William Penn founded Philly on October 27 to serve as the capital of his Pennsylvania Colony. According to http://www.ushistory.org/us/4c.asp, Penn aimed to draft a plan for the city that left the horrors of crowded European urban life behind.

Learn more about historic Philadelphia here.

 

What makes Philly unique from other metropolitan hubs? History abounds on the streets of Philadelphia, with miles of historic and cultural icons you won’t want to miss. Don’t forget to bring along your camera (and selfie stick) so you can capture every photo op. All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui.

Whenever possible, take your cue from residents and guests – a walking tour of Philadelphia is one way to see the sights. You’ll be tempted to pause often to glance into storefronts, read menus or stop for a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants. According to tripadvisor.com,  Philly offers 3,698 restaurants. That’s foodie heaven. You can find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

Get your dose of Philly here.

The extra wide streets are a breeze to navigate.

5 must-see Philly attractions 

History: everywhere you turn

1. Penn Museum

(also known as University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)

After a particularly long week, my husband and I took two days off to rediscover Philly’s cuisine and culture. We began our glorious 24-hour whirlwind tour at Penn Museum, 3260 South St.,
on the University of Pennsylvania campus, with Pam Kosty, public relations director, as our guide.

You’ll be captivated by the artifacts and art from around the world. Kunihiko Matsui, AIA, marveled at the distinctive architectural elements throughout the museum. Of course, the Japan gallery was a must-see for this Kyoto native.

Stroll the University of Pennsylvania campus and you’ll soon discover why this Ivy League school is regarded as one of the world’s most respected research and teaching institutions. Penn Museum, located on the campus, was our first stop upon our arrival in Philly. Both the interior and exterior of the building are enchanting and representative of an enlightened society eager to promote the arts and sciences. The museum in College Hall was formally opened to the public January 2, 1890.

Create your own signature learning experience as you celebrate the incredibly diverse artifacts and art displayed and intermingled with hands-on learning tools. If you’re fast-tracking your way through Philly and you’re short on time, you can view each of the exhibits in two to three hours. You can also expect to find many objects on display that originated from university-led archaeological excavations and anthropological expeditions. Stone tools, household items, monuments and yes, fine art, are among the treasures you’ll see.

When you think of archaeology and anthropology, what comes to mind? Truly, both disciplines are a celebration of mankind and our world’s diverse cultures.

Take your Pick or see them all

The interior space houses 11 signature exhibitions: Egypt (Sphinx), Egypt (Mummies) Gallery, Africa, Canaan and Israel, China, Etruscan Italy, Greece, Rome, Japan, Mexico and Central America galleries; space dedicated to special exhibitions, and a cafe that features tasty, authentic food from around the world. I chose an Indian dish that was delicious.

Click here for an updated list of special exhibitions or to purchase tickets to the museum.

Museum hours are Tues to Sun., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month.

Admission is $15/general adult, $13/senior citizens (65 and above), and $10/children 6 to 17 and full-time students with college ID. Museum members, active U.S. military personnel, children 5 and under and PennCard holders (Penn faculty, staff and students) receive free admission.

 

Flanked by a lovely courtyard, koi pond and seating area, the lawn is a respite where students, staff and museum guests can take a coffee or lunch break, amidst the soothing sounds of trickling water.

 

2. Sonesta Philadelphia Lobby Art Exhibit 

Our next stop was check-in at the incredibly hip Sonesta Downtown Philadelphia. View the original art of Philadelphia’s fine artists and craftsmen in Sonesta’s lobby. The exhibit is updated every six months. Hotel guests in need of information should consult with the concierge. 

Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor.

 

Contemporary decor
Art created by Philadelphia artists and craftsmen is the focal point in the lobby of Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square.

Read more about Sonesta’s accommodations and services at my companion post: http://wp.me/p7Pqe9-uy

3. Reading Terminal Market 

Sonesta Rittenhouse Square is centrally located downtown at 18th and Market Streets in Center City, and only a short distance from a multitude of attractions. Whether you and your spouse are on an overnight getaway or you’re traveling with children, I guarantee you won’t want to miss the historic Reading Terminal Market. Whatever taste bud you hope to satisfy, you’ll find a selection of baked goods, meats, poultry, seafood, and produce. Other vendors also carry flowers and cookware. The Reading Terminal Market has been open to the public since 1892.

4. The Butcher Bar

What’s your hankering? As 5 p.m. rolls around, and particularly after hours of sightseeing and walking, why not try one one of historic Philadelphia’s newest restaurants?

As we approached the restaurant around dusk, the large shutters on the second-floor windows were wide open. I could see diners engrossed in conversation and candles gently flickering. The entrance-way was bursting with activity as guests sipped cocktails, wine and beer. Happy hour was in the works.

The Butcher Bar, 2034 Chestnut St, offers a lunch, brunch and dinner menu that will leave the meat lover’s mouth watering. I can still recall my reaction to one of our appetizers, a slab of bacon. “Oh, this is incredible – tender and juicy.” Words cannot describe this delectable creation. Kunihiko Matsui and I sampled a variety of menu items.

The bar features 16 beers on tap, 6 draft wines, and a whiskey-based cocktail program. You should absolutely make reservations. View the menus here.

5. The Eastern State Penitentiary 

Before leaving Philly, The Eastern State Penitentiary was our final stop as we prepared to leave the city. Over the years, I’ve heard rave reviews about the Eastern State Penitentiary, but since most of my trips to Philadelphia have been brief, I’ve never found the time to visit.

Regarded as “one of the most famous and expensive prisons in the world” and the world’s first true “penitentiary,” the ruins are bone-chilling and captivating. My overall opinion is the crumbling walls, empty prison yards and dimly lit hallways all speak of the lives of the inmates who called the Eastern State Penitentiary home. They are haunting as much as they are thought-provoking.

Notable residents were “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone, who were among some of America’s most famous criminals.

A masterfully created one-hour hands-on audio tour, history exhibits, artists’ installations, and a vivid imagination are all you’ll need to feel the history that emanates from the walls. A very knowledgeable tour guide also led us through portions of the building.

Stay tuned for video clips from Eastern State Penitentiary. 

Are you looking for a more in-depth history of the penitentiary? Visit http://www.easternstate.org/history-eastern-state.

The penitentiary is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last entry at 4 p.m. Don’t plan to visit on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day, when the facility is closed.

Adults: $14
Seniors: $12
Students & Kids: $10 (not recommended for children under seven-years-old) 
Members: FREE


Granted, you won’t have a full 24 hours to tour historic Philadelphia, when you factor in time while you’re sleeping, but in a brief period of time, you will get a taste and feel what makes Philly so interesting. Allow some time to relax and catch your breath. There’s no need to rush, and realistically, who can say how many days, weeks or perhaps even months you’d need to see everything Philly offers? Move at your own pace.


Visitphilly.com graciously arranged my visit and also provided me with information that helped immensely when we were mapping our 24-hour visit. Feel free to reach out to the staff as you are planning your trip to Philadelphia. 

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Anthracite Heritage Art and Culture camping Exhibits Family Destinations Museums Northeastern Pennsylvania

Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum

Experience coal mine history

by Mike Korb

The Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum is an excellent place to experience a portion of the history of Pennsylvania Anthracite. Pat and I spent a few hours on a beautiful July day at the Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum at Knoebels Amusement Resort. http://www.knoebels.com/ride-play/attractions/mining-museum.

Knoebels, “America’s Largest Free-Admission Amusement Resort” is located in the heart of the anthracite coal region in Pennsylvania.  This year, Knoebels is celebrating its 90th anniversary.

What will you find at Knoebels?

The air-conditioned museum opened in 1988 and is chock full of mine artifacts, stories, displays and great information about mining and life in the coal regions.  The visit was surely at the right price. Admission to the museum, amusement park, and parking are FREE.

Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum
Pressed pennies are one of Mike Korb’s obsessions.

A sock filled with money

The first thing I saw at the door to the museum is one of my obsessions – a squished penny machine. When I’m on vacation, I carry a sock filled with shiny new pennies and quarters on the chance there’s a machine.  I can insert two quarters and a penny, and presto: A 51 cent souvenir, with the die-pressed symbol of where you visited. But, I didn’t bring the sock with me, so I went to the gift shop counter and took two shiny pennies from the “need-a-penny” jar and got four quarters for a dollar.  I went home with the two mine museum squished pennies they had.  Knoebels gets new penny dies every year, and this year they have 37 different designs.  I guess I saved a bundle ($17.50) by forgetting the sock.

Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum
A reenactment of the Sheppton Mine Rescue (1963) with one of the actual rescue harnesses.

Go to the Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum 

Genealogists and history buffs can pick up and read hand-written accident reports from the coal mines more than a hundred years ago. You can search a database for accidents involving your ancestors. See displays and models showing mining methods, tools, and equipment.  Finally, be sure to have your partner or a bystander take your picture outside driving a mine “Lokie” two years older than the park, and see other tracked mine equipment.

Most of the equipment in the museum are from the collection of the late Clarence “Mooch” Kashner of Coal Township. Kasner was once president of the Independent Miners, Breaker men, and Truckers union, and a retired PA State Mine Inspector.  He asked Peter Knoebel to display the artifacts and memorabilia he’d acquired throughout his career.  In 1988, the museum, a building built to resemble a coal breaker, was opened.

One of his pieces in the museum, a rough yoke fashioned from coveralls and a parachute harness, was used to pull one miner to the surface from a collapsed mine during the 1963 Sheppton Mine Rescue.  Because of the harness  Travel Channel visited Knoebels.  The museum, the mine rescue, and the harness were featured in one episode of the Travel Channel’s “Mysteries of the Museum” in 2013.  Watch the rerun on July 24 at 8 p.m. EST and 7 p.m.   (http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/mysteries-at-the-museum/episodes/sheppton-mine-disaster-bite-board-erie-collar-bomb) You can watch on July 24th at 8 PM, 7 p.m. Central.

There’s lots more to see and do at Knoebels.

Knoebels is ranked as one of the top-ten family amusement parks in the United States.  The first thing after the museum, you see the Black Diamond. We didn’t take the dark coaster ride through the coal mine on the Black Diamond, but you should.  Instead, we went through three more museums and exhibits.  I rode on the 103-year-old carousel and grabbed three brass rings without falling off my horse once. The Grand Carousel was voted the best carousel in the Golden Ticket Awards competition held by Amusement Today in 2007, and 2010 to 2015.  In addditon, Knoebels food has won the awards 13 times in the last 15 years.  Make sure you sample some  before you left the Park.

Our 39 mile “trek” to the Knoebels  Anthracite Coal Mine Museum was well worth the trip.

Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum
Mike Korb found many photo ops.

Bundle a trip to Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum and Pioneer Coal Mine Tour

When you’re planning your visit to Knoebels, you should also allow time to visit a nearby top ten tourist attraction in Pennsylvania.  Consider first scheduling a half-hour trip to the Pioneer Tunnel Mine Tour and “Lokie” ride in Ashland. (www.pioneertunnel.com)  This “newer” narrow gauge locomotive was built in 1927.  It is a 0-4-0 type Lokie that typically was used to haul coal from strip mines. I suggest you first take a trip on the train behind a Lokie in the morning and the Coal Mine Tour at noon.  In addition, get your picture taken in a Lokie and visit the Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum in the afternoon. Maybe spend your evening on some of the rides on the bargain “Sundown Plan.”  Don’t miss all the photo ops.

Celebrate coal mine history 

Finally, join Pat and me on Sat., Aug. 20, 2016, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as we celebrate the 24th Annual Pioneer Day and the 53rd Anniversary of the Pioneer Tunnel Tour. Take a mine tour and a steam train ride.  Enjoy the special events that will be held adjacent to the tunnel.

In the works

Pioneer Tunnel will be adding a reconstructed mine headframe to its attractions, hopefully this fall.  I’ll write about it then.

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Art and Culture Exhibits Museums Northeastern Pennsylvania

Artists Give New Life to Books

  • By
  • June 2, 2016

Artists transform mass-produced books

“Between the Covers: Altered Books in Contemporary Art”

Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui

Artists giving new life to books as unique works of art is the premise behind Between the Covers: Altered Books in Contemporary Art, a must-see exhibit due to close in a matter of days at The Everhart Museum of Natural History & Art in Scranton.

 

 

 

 

 

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