(Image source from: Independence Hall)
Independence Hall in Philadelphia may be considered the birthplace of the United States of America: it was here that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, the Articles of Confederation uniting the 13 colonies were ratified in 1781, and the Constitution setting out the nation's basic laws was adopted in 1787, after George Washington had presided over the debate, which ran from May to September.
The building was designed by Andrew Hamilton to house the Assembly of the Commonwealth (colony) of Pennsylvania. Finished in 1753, it is a modest brick structure with a steeple that was intended to hold a 2,080 lb (943 kg) bell. The bell, however, has cracked twice and stands silently on the ground in a special shelter (a reproduction now hangs in the steeple). Independence Hall is important not for its architectural design but for the documents of fundamental importance to American history drafted and debated here that formed the democracy of the United States.
The building has undergone many restorations, notably by Greek revival architect John Haviland in 1830, and by a committee from the National Park Service in 1950, returning it to its 1776 appearance. The universal principles of freedom and democracy have also had a profound impact on lawmakers around the world.
Independence National Historical Park, located in downtown Philadelphia ('Centre City'), interprets events and the lives of the diverse population during the years when the city was the capital of the United States, from 1790 to 1800. A section of the park where Benjamin Franklin's home once stood is dedicated to teaching about his life and accomplishments. Spanning approximately 18 ha, the park has about 20 buildings open to the public.