Independence National Historical Park Independence Hall and Congress Hall Philadelphia, Pa. Visited: March 23, 2004 NPS Site Visited: 3 of 353 Local Website
Why Such an Appalingly Low Score? Want More? Click Here for our In-Depth Independence NHP Story.
Security measure have changed since our 2004 visit. Ergo, New Review Coming Soon! Hopefully, the changes have brought a great improvement.
WHAT IS IT? Cordoned-off area of Independence Hall NHP that includes Independence Hall (site where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed); and Congress Hall (where the U.S. Legislature met from 1790 to 1800).
BEAUTY (2/10) Nearly every view and sightline of the Federalist-style Independence Hall and Congress Hall is despoiled by security gates. The new home of the Liberty Bell is ugly and amounts to nothing more than a dressed up brick and glass warehouse.
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE (10/10) Independence Hall is the most historically important site in the United States.
CROWDS (1/10) Tons of people, even on a Tuesday. Crying babies and shrieking kids a plenty. Perhaps because they are bored. The crowds are so large that it gives the Rangers license to dumb down every lecture to the point of maddening condescension.
EASE OF USE/ACCESS (1/5) Parking difficult and expensive. We spent more time waiting in security lines than we did at the actual Liberty Bell and Independence Hall combined. Despite getting there at 9:30 a.m., we had to wait until Noon to get a tour. It was a good thing, too, because it required most of this time to a) figure out how to get around amidst all the security barriers; and b) make our way through the security lines.
CONCESSIONS/BOOKSTORE (1/5) A shockingly poor selection of books. The new Visitor Center is also ugly in the glass-brick warehouse sort of way.
COSTS (1/5) Parking costs high. The sites were free but, unless you packed aspirin, the stress level and subsequent headache was unbearable.
RANGER/GUIDE TO TOURIST RATIO (1/5) Innumerable Rangers everywhere. None could answer a question. None were eager to help. Most were on security detail, and a disturbing number of those were either reading books or organizing their backpacks while dozens of tourists begged for help in their patrol area. Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.
TOURS/CLASSES (1/10) We didn’t go to the movie that was provided at the Visitor Center because the prompter did not read its title, only “History Channel Presents”. Michael does not like History Channel presentations and finds it outrageous that millions were spent on the building of a new Visitor Center while the task of filming an explanatory video was outsourced. It is a good thing that we skipped the showing. If we had watched the film we would not have made it through the security checkpoints in time.
Much of the basic “factual information” recited by the Rangers at Independence Hall was historically wrong.
The Independence Hall tour was abysmal. 18 of the tour’s 30 minutes were spent in a small pseudo classroom. Yes. More time there than in the place where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. And the tour itself was horrible. Incorrect facts, dated theory, reprimands for looking at things not immediately discussed by the Ranger. Just horrible.
FUN (1/10) Between the poor job by the Rangers, the long security lines, and the near strip search in 40 degree and windy weather, we had no fun at all.
WOULD WE RECOMMEND? (4/10) Despite the negatives, it is still the most historically important site in the United States.
USA-C2C.com is an independent website, not affiliated in any way with the National Park Service, the National Parks Foundation or any of their partners.