So, this wekeend, I totally went here:
Inside that building, it looked like this:
In that room, John Adams ran his mouth a lot while Thomas Jefferson made longing, furtive glances at him, and Ben Franklin sat in the back row cackling over dirty magazines and ignoring everyone until the mood struck to spout out something brilliant but completely unrelated.
Okay, that’s not really how it happened, or so they say. But I know better.
Thomas Jefferson never set foot in the house below. It was built in 1975. But the house where he DID write the Declaration of Independence was in this spot until it was demolished and, I believe, was identical.
And, if the musical 1776 is to be believed, there was lots of sex in this house when his poor newlywed wife made the mistake of stopping by after TJ had been trapped in that grey room above with sweaty, aging white men for weeks on end. Also, the other founding fathers and sang a lot for no good reason. This may not be the way things happened, but I choose to believe that it is.
Like the Declaration House, Ben Franklin’s home and print shop were demolished sometime between 1790 and today when some forward-thinking Philadelphian of ages past decided that America needed another blighted urban strip of Foot Lockers, pawn shops, and cell phone stores. Today, these “ghost houses” have been raised on the spot of Franklin’s original house to mark its memory, and excavations are going on beneath to unearth its foundations.
This carriageway and some of the surrounding structures are some of the only remnants in Franklin Court of Ben’s time there.
Today, Ben’s lodging is much smaller, and the cemetery where he’s buried is the only thing that charged me admission the whole day long: $2.
I’ll commemorate this lovely portrait of Ben’s grave with my absolute favorite quotation from his autobiography:
“But this affair having turned my thoughts to marriage, I look’d round me and made overtures of acquaintance in other places; but soon found that, the business of a printer being generally thought a poor one, I was not to expect money with a wife, unless with such a one as I should not otherwise think agreeable. In the mean time, that hard-to-be-governed passion of youth hurried me frequently into intrigues with low women that fell in my way, which were attended with some expense and great inconvenience, besides a continual risque to my health by a distemper which of all things I dreaded, though by great good luck I escaped it.”
Now, here’s a photo of the Liberty Bell and an unhappy child.
I don’t know who this is, but she looks as unhappy that her parents made her stand so long in front of the bell as I was. Seriously, people. It’s a snapshot, not a professional portrait. Click it, move on.
All in all, it was only a day trip. I only had a few hours in town and didn’t have time to go far, but I did walk down to South Street where I ran into this charmer. I knew I had found my Place when I saw this giant painting of Larry with a fiddle there to greet me.
And, a bit to the left of the above photo, what to my wondering eyes did appear but a MAOZ.
That’s right, it was a Maoz. The restaurant for which I braved daily fights with uber irritable waitresses in Paris. Right here in the US. (I hear that there is one in DC, and I even have it on Google Maps, but I haven’t had time to track it down yet – it’s over in the left part of the city where people as poor as me aren’t allowed to go.) Anyhow, the shop was staffed by employees who were amazingly friendly and obviously huge stoners. It was, however, almost as small and cramped as the one in Paris with even less seating (if that is possible). Got mine to go and walked off into the sunset, falafel pita in one hand, fries in the other. It was a good day. And it was indeed sunny.