Philadelphia is of course known for the cheesesteak among other things. Pat's (pictured
below) takes credit for inventing the sandwich which is simply cheese, grilled onions and steak
on a bun. Just across the street is Geno's (pictured here). This was our first stop
in Philadelphia on the way to the hotel. It was a little after midnight (both
restaurants are open 24 hours a day) when we stopped to sample fare from both places.
It's a tough thing to make a decision on. We liked the cheese sauce better at Pat's, and the
meat and bread better at Geno's. Pat's also has a bit of an attitude (you can be sent to the
end of the line supposedly for ordering wrong) which doesn't seem warranted in our opinion.
Suffice it to say that when we returned on our way out of Philadelphia, we went to Geno's,
mostly because the line was shorter at the time.
This page is called Philadelphia but it includes some surrounding areas as we made day-trips
to New Jersey, Allentown and Pennsylvania Dutch country while we were visiting. This is
the state capitol in Trenton, New Jersey, included here for completeness in our eventual complete
set of state capitols. The building itself is packed into downtown Trenton and is difficult
to get a clear view of. Trenton is not a particularly attractive city and we found nothing
else of interest there.
Back in Philadelphia we spent some time in Chinatown, which would more accurately be called
Asiatown as there are large Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese communities as well. Like other
North American chinatowns, this one features import shops, produce and meat markets, and more
noodle shops and restaurants than you can count.
As a tourist destination, Philadelphia's historic district is probably the biggest draw
(although the art museum and Franklin science center are worth a visit too). This is
Elfreth's Alley, billed as the oldest continuously inhabited street in the United States.
It's a nice play to wander through if you can catch it between tour groups. Most of these
homes are still private residences.
Independence Hall national historic park features a bevy of old buildings that for one
reason or another have been preserved. These include the meeting hall where the first
Continental Congress was held, the house where the Declaration of Independence was (believed
to be) written and the first bank of the United States, shown here. Nearby is the second
bank of the United States which looks suspiciously like a cross between this one and the
Acropolis in Athens.
The centerpiece is of course Independence Hall itself which was the home of the United
States government in the early days of its independence, as well as the location where
both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed. The Liberty
Bell which was intended to hang in the steeple was famously removed after cracking (twice)
and used to stand nearby in a shelter. At the time of our visit they were building a new
pavillion to house it, though we can tell you from previous visits to the city that the
Liberty Bell is one of those so-called attractions you see more out of some vague moral
obligation rather than any inherent interest.
Allentown is about an hour's drive northwest of Philadelphia. We went there primarily
to visit Dorney Park (an excellent amusement park), but due to the name, we had to stop
and visit Trout Hall. This marker gives about as much other information on it as you'd
want to know. We never did find out why he named it Trout Hall, maybe it just sounded
In between Allentown and Philadelphia (sort of) is Doylestown. We knew nothing
of this area in advance but it's a remarkably scenic part of Pennsylvania strewn
with historic inns (that are almost all converted into Bed & Breakfasts) and old
stone farmhouses. By accident we came across this. It is the Moravian Pottery and
Tile Works factory, which opened in 1898. They still hand-make tile here today, but
mostly as a demonstration for tourists.
It was run by Henry Mercer who built his home nearby using the same rather unusual concrete
building method. He named this home Fonthill. It is the same color as the tile works above,
the setting sun lent the rather unusual tinting that you see in this picture. The castle
is asymmetrical (as you can see), the rooms inside are likewise and are supposedly heavily
decorated with... you guessed it, tiles.
Back in Philadelphia we spent a sunny Sunday morning in Fairmount Park. Fairmount
Park runs for miles along both sides of the Schuylkill River. It has several historic
homes, and features nearly every type of recreation imaginable. This little section
is called Boathouse Row. Nearby universities and sculling clubs own these homes which
mainly provide storage for the boats and accessories.
The enormous Philadelphia Museum of Art is also located in the park, as is the Philadelphia
Zoo. We thought the park could maybe use some better signs, or maybe any map at all would
be useful. Finding a specific thing can be rather difficult. Roaming around randomly can
be rewarding if you have the time.
The building in the center of this photo is the City Hall. On top, and not particularly
clear in this picture is a statue of William Penn. Before leaving Philadelphia we spent some time driving around the area immediately to its
west, also known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country. There aren't really any definite attractions
per se in the area, although several have made an attempt at making quilts, cheese, and
carriage rides into a tourist venue. Mostly it's just another interesting place to wander,
there are so many Amish homes in the area that horse-drawn buggies on the road will become
commonplace in a matter of minutes. The Amish generally object to having their picture taken so
we have no well-manicured farm scenes to offer here.