His Greatest Achievements Took Place In Philadelphia
Freedom fighter, statesman, financial genius, adulterer. These are the impressions Alexander Hamilton has left on his Broadway-based fans. (The Tony Award-winning musical is playing at Philadelphia’s Forrest Theatre through November 17, 2019.) But the sites and exhibits in Philadelphia, especially in the city’s easy-to-explore Historic District, prove there’s plenty more to the real Hamilton. The National Constitution Center’s exhibit, Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation, highlights the competing ideas of Hamilton and his rivals. At the Museum of the American Revolution, 2019 is the “Year of Hamilton,” complete with rare artifacts from Hamilton and his family, special readings, performances and events. Both of these attractions are part of the easy-to-book fall 2019 Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, which includes two tickets to each, free overnight hotel parking (an up to $100 value), PHLASH® passes to get around town and a $25 gift card to Jose Garces’ Philadelphia restaurants. The package runs through November 30, 2019 and is bookable now at visitphilly.com/overnight.
Here are the Philadelphia sites where Hamilton shaped his—and America’s—legacy:
The Sites Of Hamilton’s Philadelphia Life:
- Carpenters’ Hall – In creating the Bank of the United States, Hamilton did what had never been done before: He created the first central bank not owned by a monarch. While construction of the First Bank building was underway, the newly created federal bank was housed in Carpenters’ Hall, from 1794 to 1797. 320 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-0167 carpentershall.org
- First Bank – Built in 1795 to 1797, when Philadelphia was the U.S. capital, the First Bank was Hamilton’s solution for the nation’s enormous war debt, even though he never set foot inside of the structure. As Treasury Secretary, Hamilton also developed a standard currency to be used by all the states. Although the First Bank is not open for visitation, the classic architecture makes for stunning photos. 116 S. 3rd Street
- Franklin Print Shop – There was no love lost between Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache. At The Aurora Print Shop, now the Franklin Print Shop, Bache railed against Hamilton and the other Federalists in his publications. Like all of the Hamilton-related sites within the Independence National Historical Park, this one can be found on the Independence Mobile App. 320 Market Street, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov
- Hamilton House – Although the home where Hamilton, his wife Eliza and their children lived is gone, a plaque marks the location where they rented a house from 1790 to 1795. When Eliza was out of town, it was here that Hamilton engaged in a scandalous, career-ending affair with the very married Maria Reynolds. 226 Walnut Street
- Independence Hall – When delegates gathered at Independence Hall for the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Hamilton was the only one of New York’s three delegates who signed the U.S. Constitution. (He was not, however, onsite for 1776’s signing of the Declaration of Independence, as he was in New York, fighting alongside General George Washington at the time.) Discussions were contentious but Hamilton, who co-authored the Federalist Papers, ultimately helped convince other delegates to support the Constitution. 6th & Chestnut Streets, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov
- Powel House – Living at 3rd and Walnut Streets, Hamilton spent time up the street at the home of colonial power couple Elizabeth and Samuel Powel, a popular gathering place for Philadelphia elite. Tours mention a letter Hamilton wrote to wife Eliza, in which he asked her if she had been taking her medicine, and suggested she think of the advice that Mrs. Powel once gave her regarding her health. 244 S. 3rd Street, (215) 627-0364, philalandmarks.org
- Second Bank of the United States – Beyond the imposing, Corinthian-columned façade, this building served as the second federally authorized Hamiltonian national bank, 1816 to 1836. Today, it’s a portrait gallery of prominent 18th– and 19th-century Americans, including a standout painting of Hamilton by Charles Willson Peale. 420 Chestnut Street, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov
- U.S. Mint – In 1792, Congress approved plans for the first U.S. Mint, Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton’s brainchild. The modern descendant of the original Mint building features a video that outlines Hamilton’s role in creating the money-making facility. Free, self-guided tours take about 45 minutes to complete. 151 Independence Mall East, (215) 408-0112, usmint.gov
Exhibits, Events & More Hamilton:
- Museum of the American Revolution – A young Captain Hamilton was a rising star in George Washington’s army and a key player in the revolution. Here, visitors view Washington’s authentic Headquarters Tent, where Washington, Hamilton and others plotted military strategies throughout the war. Through September 2019, the museum hosts the “Year of Hamilton” with 30 rare Hamilton artifacts, including his Society of Cincinnati badge and widow Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton’s mourning ring, which contains a lock of the Founding Father’s hair, displayed in the core exhibition, along with theatrical performances, readings and more. 101 S. 3rd Street, (215) 253-6731, amrevmuseum.org
- Hamilton Was Here: Building a Nation in Revolutionary Philadelphia – Playful interactives, scenic environments and facilitated games are part of a new, hands-on exhibit revealing how Hamilton and Philadelphia itself combined to help found a nation. During the exhibit, 30 rare Hamilton artifacts, including his Society of Cincinnati badge and widow Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton’s mourning ring, which contains a lock of the Founding Father’s hair, rotate on display in the museum’s core exhibition. The museum is also distributing “Flat Hamilton” dolls, which visitors photograph among Hamilton sites in Philadelphia, and post with #HamiltonWasHere. Through March 17, 2019. 101 S. 3rd Street, (215) 253-6731, amrevmuseum.org
- National Constitution Center – A life-size bronze in Signers’ Hall pays homage to the critical role Hamilton played in the country’s founding and framing. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6600, constitutioncenter.org
- Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation – Created by and on display at the National Constitution Center, this exhibit explores Hamilton’s fraught relationships with James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Aaron Burr through rare documents and artifacts. It includes the printed Hamilton Experience guide, which highlights Hamilton history and activities throughout the museum, available through April 2019. Through December 31, 2019.
- Once Upon A Nation – From Memorial Day through Labor Day, visitors can witness true tales of U.S. history—free of charge, and throughout each day—at 13 family-friendly Once Upon A Nation benches throughout the Historic District, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. A storyteller outside the Museum of the American Revolution hosts a retelling of the jealous and dramatic relationship between Hamilton and Aaron Burr, from Washington’s encampment at Valley Forge to the fatal duel that ended Hamilton’s life.
- Hamilton – The Tony-winning and Broadway sensation comes to the Forrest Theatre as part of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ Broadway Philadelphia series. Based on Ron Chernow’s biography, Hamilton has a book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire. Through November 17, 2019. 1114 Walnut Street, (215) 893-1999, kimmelcenter.org
- City Tavern – Hamilton fans can eat, drink and make merry at the recreation of the original tavern where Hamilton, Washington and the gang often gathered after hard days of debating the S. Constitution. Modern-day patrons can sip a colonial-style shrub or quaff Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Ale, a crisp, hoppy brew created by Philadelphia’s Yards Brewing Company. 138 S. 2nd Street, (215) 413-1443, citytavern.com
- Alexander Hamilton Walking Tours – For fans of the blockbuster musical who can’t get enough Hamilton, a downloadable app, created by Philadelphia writer Catherine Price, connects some of the hit songs to Philadelphia landmarks where it all happened. The app is available in the Apple App store or Google Play. catherine-price.com/hamilton
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