Philadelphia

Independence Hall, formerly the colonial legislature and later the Pennsylvania state house, was built in 1753, at the time it was the largest building in North America. It is the site of the debating and signing of both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Inside also, not pictured, is a court room. This court room was an English colonial court room, where the defendant was required to stand, not sit, there were no chairs, in the dock for the duration of his trial. This is the origin of the phrase ‘to stand trial’. Black statue out front is Washington.

In this very room on the July 4th, 1776, the United States came into being. Here on this day, the Declaration of Independence was signed. It was awesome to stand in the room where the American revolution began, an earth shaking event. For the next 8 years, 137 days America would fight tooth and nail for her independence.

This is where founding father Thomas Jefferson sat, at the Virginia table. Drafter/Author of the Declaration, he was America’s foremost son of the Enlightenment.

Tomb of the Unknowns of the Revolutionary War. This monument is in Washington Square, Philadelphia, a park where thousands of Revolutionary War soliders are buried in mass graves.

The Liberty Bell. 262 years old, this bell was hung in the steeple of Independence Hall, it reads “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” This bell is a famous and iconic symbol of American liberty, and was rung to mark the signing of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. 89 years later it was placed next to the casket of recently assassinated President Lincoln as hundreds of thousands shuffled through Independence Hall as he lay in state. The bell became a symbol of the slavery abolitionist movement, and later the civil rights movement. Thousands of people stream by it daily and there is always a waiting line of people.

Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin bridge.

Philadelphia is famous for its Cheese Steaks.


The National Constitution Center is a museum dedicated to the founding charters and principles of the United States. Here is pictured a room sized collection of brass statues of the signers of the constitution.


This is the actual signed pardon of President Richard Nixon, pardoned for any and all crimes, signed of course by his successor Gerald Ford.

Mütter Museum

The Mütter Museum is a world famous medical museum in Philadelphia. It contains a large collection of medical oddities, human anatomy specimens and so on. Many of the specimens were evidently obtained without the consent of the deceased, as prisoners, suicides, and so on, are represented here. Photography is banned inside, except during special pre-arranged occasions with professional photographers. I have therefore sought out examples of photos taken of the interior by others. A slice of Einstein’s brain is on display, and again, his brain was famously taken from his body and kept by a pathologist without consent upon autopsy. Even luminaries are not safe from the biological determinists. Of course after decades of slicing and dicing this human being’s remains, they have proven nothing they set out to prove.

The exterior of the Mütter Museum.

Interior of the Mütter Museum, with the wall of skulls, the Hyrtl Skull Collection, which consists mostly of 19th century accident deaths, suicides, murders, and executed prisoners, along with some extreme examples of unusual shape and size variance in human skulls.

There is a piece of the thorax of Linoln’s assassin, a nine foot long diseased human colon, siamese twin body parts, a multitude of fetuses and birth defects in jars. Some of it is nasty stuff.

The giant and the dwarf skeletons. In a rather undignified display, visitors are told that this dwarf skeleton is that of a 19th century prostitute who died during childbirth. I wonder if she consented to the donation of her remains.

Heart from the Gretchen Worden room. She was the curator here until her death in recent years. She regularly appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman exhibiting samples of the collection on television. I recall seeing this.

New York Times described the “Gretchen Worden Room”:

“There are jars of preserved human kidneys and livers, and a man’s skull so eaten away by tertiary syphilis that it looks like pounded rock. There are dried severed hands shiny as lacquered wood, showing their veins like leaves; a distended ovary larger than a soccer ball; spines and leg bones so twisted by rickets they’re painful just to see; the skeleton of a dwarf who stood 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 m) small, next to that of a giant who towered seven and a half feet. And “Jim and Joe,” the green-tinted corpse of a two-headed baby, sleeping in a bath of formaldehyde.”

Various shots from the medical museum.

This brings to a close both the Washington and Philadelphia posts. Thank you for reading/viewing this huge chunk of blog content, and Merry Christmas everybody.

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About ryaninseries

Ryan in America travel blog 2011-2012
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