We're lucky enough to call one of the country's most influential founding father's Philadelphia's own. Benjamin Franklin invented many of the world's most used systems and inventions right here in the City of Brotherly Love. (Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)
With the Benjamin Franklin Museum’s grand reopening this weekend, there’s no better time than now to honor the man who created numerous inventions and institutions that are still in use today.
We’ve created a Franklin-inspired roundup, housing sites that commemorate the Founding Father, like the Benjamin Franklin Museum and the Franklin Institute. Our roundup also includes locations that Franklin would likely spend time at today.
Our list also highlights many of the statues and monuments dedicated to the great man and his work throughout the city.
Read on for our Franklin-inspired Philadelphia roundup.
Museums and Attractions
The Benjamin Franklin Museum, which is to open on August 24 after a two-year renovation, captures the character of Franklin's personality through themed rooms dedicated to his accomplishments. (Photo by J. Fusco for GPTMC)
• Benjamin Franklin Museum: Philly’s most historic neighborhood — located in and around Old City — comprised most of Colonial Philadelphia at the time Franklin inhabited it. At the Benjamin Franklin Museum, you’ll get an overview of the man’s personality, lifestyle and contributions before stepping out to Franklin Court to admire the Ghost Structure that outlines the place where his house once stood. On the Market Street side of Franklin Court, you’ll find the B. Free Franklin Post Office, where you can get postcards hand-stamped just as one would have when Franklin was the first postmaster. Steps away at the Print Shop, National Park Service rangers demonstrate Franklin’s career as a printer and newspaper publisher using 18th-century techniques and machinery.
• Carpenters’ Hall: Carpenters’ Hall is the site of the First Continental Congress, and was once the home of Franklin’s Library Company and the American Philosophical Society, two organizations he founded. The Library Company served as the young nation’s original subscription library and APS was founded by Franklin in 1743 “to promote useful knowledge.” Today at Carpenters’ Hall, exhibits capture the events that occurred there that led to the call for independence.
• Christ Church: Visit the place where Franklin and his family attended services and sit in Pew 70 to get his visual perspective on the inside of Christ Church, where he baptized his children and supervised several lotteries to finance the tower and steeple. A few blocks away at the Christ Church Burial Ground, you can see where Franklin and his wife Deborah are laid to rest, alongside Colonial America’s most noted figures. Toss a penny on his grave for good luck.
• Fireman’s Hall Museum: To combat lethal fires, Franklin organized a group of volunteers to fight fires, and the idea soon caught on throughout the city. The Fireman’s Hall Museum commemorates this history of firefighting with artifacts that date back to this time period. A few blocks from the Fireman’s Hall Museum, at the corner of 4th and Arch Streets, a sculpture of Benjamin Franklin wearing a fireman’s hat sits on the side of a local fire station.
Independence Hall, the home to an abundance of Colonial history is the site where Franklin created documents that led to liberty for the colonies and set up a freely elected government. (Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)
• Independence Mall: Stop by Historic Philadelphia for a visit to the Liberty Bell, a symbol of freedom and religious tolerance (Franklin was big on both), and Independence Hall, where Franklin and his peers wrote the two documents that declared liberty for the colonies and set up a freely elected government. Be sure to first pick up timed tickets for Independence Hall at the Independence Visitor Center.
• Historic Philadelphia Center: Located across the street from Independence Hall, visit the Historic Philadelphia Center for a viewing of Liberty 360, where you’ll discover the nation’s symbols of freedom with the help of narrator Benjamin Franklin. Inside the 360° theater, the 15-minute indoor show uses modern 3-D technology to spotlight the most treasured American value — liberty.
The Franklin Institute is home to the national memorial for Benjamin Franklin. (Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)
• National Constitution Center: The National Constitution Center presents an interactive culmination of all of the democratic principles Franklin and his fellow framers worked so hard to ensure. Look for his life-sized statue in Signer’s Hall, and be sure to take a picture with Ben.
• Franklin Square: Play a round of mini-golf in Franklin Square, home to a course that replicates Philly landmarks such as the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in miniature. From the eastern edge of the square you can see Isamu Noguchi’s Bolt of Lightning… A Memorial to Benjamin Franklin that captures Franklin’s famous experiment in metal.
More of Franklin’s Philadelphia, below.
The family-friendly Franklin Square in Old City boasts a tasty burger spot, Squareburger, and a sculpture of a metal bolt of lightning commemorating Franklin's invention of the lightning rod. (Photo by J. Holder for GPTMC)
• The Franklin Institute: The Franklin Institute stands as a testament to many of the man’s great scientific experiments. Built partly with money raised by the Poor Richard Club, the museum is now home to a national memorial dedicated to Franklin, as well as the Frankliniana Collection, which contains his Ceremonial Sword used in the Court of King Louis XVI and the odometer he used to measure postal routes. There’s also an electricity exhibition highlighting lightning rods and Franklin’s electricity tube.
• Philadelphia Museum of Art: Within the museum’s extensive collection, guests can find the Marble Bust of Benjamin Franklin. The commemorative statue, that was created in 1779, can be found in the European Art gallery.
• Benjamin Franklin Parkway: Gaze down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a scenic eyeful of the gorgeous Philadelphia Museum of Art and many of the city’s most stately cultural institutions.
The Benjamin Franklin Parkway contains many historic and educational facilities, and is home to a number of popular festivals throughout the year. (Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC)
• Benjamin Franklin Craftsman Statue: At the corner of JFK Boulevard and Broad Street, a massive statue — Benjamin Franklin Craftsman fills the sidewalk, you can’t miss it.
• University of Pennsylvania: Visit University City for a stroll through the University of Pennsylvania campus. Franklin founded Penn as an institution to prepare students for business and service, and the campus contains many landmarks to honor its founder. Don’t miss Franklin’s Way, a walkway etched with Franklin quotes every few feet, and statues that show him engaged in various intellectual pursuits. Look out for the two most famous statues of Franklin on campus, one sitting on a bench at 37th and Locust and the second at College Green in front of College Hall.
Bars and Restaurants
• City Tavern: Drink and dine as Franklin and his fellow Founding Fathers did. City Tavern continues its Colonial tradition by recreating the food, drink and ambiance that comforted the framers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution as they argued over the documents late into many nights. During lunch, be sure to order a Poor Richards Spruce, a beer that Yards Brewing Company produces with a recipe written by Franklin.
The appropriately-named Benjamin Franklin Bridge connects Old City to Camden, New Jersey and also offers spectacular views for those around it. (Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)
• Moshulu: For dinner, head to the Moshulu, a fully restored four-masted sailing ship, berthed at Penn’s Landing on the Delaware River. While enjoying the breathtaking views of the aptly named Benjamin Franklin Bridge and delicious fare, imagine what it must have been like for Ben to arrive here in Philadelphia as a 17-year-old runaway apprentice from Boston.
• The Franklin Fountain: Savor some handmade Franklin Ice Cream at old-fashioned The Franklin Fountain, where owners have declared that their Franklin Mint Chip (white peppermint ice cream swirled with green crème de menthe and dark chocolate chunks) would have satisfied the diplomat’s desire for world peace.
• Jones: Franklin once wrote to his daughter that he wished the turkey had been named the national bird. He also requested that a friend prepare a meal with potatoes in every course, and he was known to favor foods grown in America over those that had been imported. At Jones, the Thanksgiving Dinner lunch would have satisfied his taste for roast turkey, mashed potatoes and traditions that honor Native Americans.
• Vedge: Franklin spent three years of his young life as a vegetarian and returned to it periodically, so why not eat dinner at one of the most highly acclaimed vegetarian restaurants in the country? At Vedge, vegetables do things never before thought possible.
• The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.: Veggies also take a prominent position in some of the hand-crafted cocktails at The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., one of the nation’s most recognized cocktail bars. Named after the largest alcohol ring in the country during Prohibition (which masqueraded as a bank), The Franklin employs bartenders who craft everything from scratch using only the freshest produce.
• Kite and Key: A few blocks away lunch beckons at the Kite and Key, a craft-beer bar and restaurant named after Franklin’s famous experiments with electricity. Bonus: Philadelphia magazine named its veggie burger this year’s best in the city.
The National Constitution Center's Signers' Hall brings 42 of the nation's Founding Fathers to life via life-size statues posed throughout the room. (Photo by G. Widman for GPTMC)