On a recent trip to Philadelphia for the Cornell versus Penn Football Game (We won!), I had on my bucket list a series of small museums that I wanted to visit. One of them was the Museum of the American Revolution at 101 South 3rd Street in Old Town Philadelphia.
What was supposed to be a two-hour visit ended up being almost four hours of fascinating artifacts, paintings, murals, flags, ammunition and cold hard facts about the Revolutionary War and its beginnings, battles and finally peace.
My first stop in the museum was the exhibition “Liberty: Don Troiani’s Paintings of the Revolutionary War” which showed the artists interpretations of the historical battles and occurrences that took…
I came across this interesting little historical museum when I was touring Elfreth’s Alley in Old Town, Philadelphia. What an interesting look back at the merchant trade class of the 18th century. It really showed how the average worker used both their home as a business and as a home. The home had been former business of a pair of dressmakers who used the front parlor as their store and showroom, the side room used as the kitchen, the upstairs room was the living quarters for a very large family (I believe that the family had eight children according to the tour guide) and a nice sized garden in the back of the home.
I visited the Betsy Ross House Museum when touring the small museums of Old Town Philadelphia. What an interesting historical site. You felt like you were invited into Betsy Ross’s house by Betsy Ross herself.
The house and museum is broken up into different sections. When you walk into the museum complex, you will get to visit a very patriotic gift shop stocked with Revolutionary War memorabilia. Out side the gift shop is the formal gardens and the courtyard which is a nice place to relax and enjoy the weather.
When you enter the house, you will be able to visit all the rooms of the house and the kitchen area on the lower level…
I put my walk in Manhattan aside for the day and walked the streets of Philadelphia, PA for my annual trip on the Acela to visit the ‘City of Brotherly Love’. I go down to Philly twice a year on purpose for my cheesesteak fix at Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagie’s Cheesesteaks and to have Beiler’s Doughnuts and Basset’s Ice Cream, foods that you just can’t replicate in New York City or New Jersey. Not the way they do it. This requires a trip on the Acela to the Reading Terminal Market downtown.
During the holiday season, I also like to see the light show at Macy’s (which I still call Wanamaker’s) and visit the tree at City Hall. Philadelphia has its own magic at holidays. There is such a beautiful holiday market that surrounds City Hall with all sorts of artisan crafted foods and handmade products. There was a slew of singers, actors and musicians that were entertaining the public.
The City Hall Christmas Tree may not be as big as the one in New York but no less nice. It was beautifully decorated and at twilight, covered with colorful lights. A lot of people were taking pictures around it or were getting ready to skate around the makeshift skating rink. It is not Rockefeller Center, but the affect was just as nice, and it really did put me in the Christmas spirit.
The first part of my trip was to see the light show at Macy’s next to City Hall. I still have a hard time calling it Macy’s considering it was the old Wanamaker’s store since its inception. This beautiful grand dame of the department store industry was so much nicer when it was Wanamaker’s.
Macy’s Center City Philadelphia-The old Wanamaker’s Department Store
There were beautiful restaurants, luxury departments and it was always nicely decorated for the holidays. Macy’s does a nice job, but it was a different store in the 80’s and early 90’s. I still see traces of the old store in the movie “Mannequin”.
The movie trailer for “Mannequin” was shot at the store in 1986
The famous opening scene that was shot in front of the old Wanamaker Department Store
I have seen the light show about five times now and I know I can see the whole thing on YouTube, but it is still fun to see it live in the store and hear the organist play the famous pipe organ. It really is an exciting show. I love the music and I love the way they display the story line. Julie Andrews does a nice job narrating the story.
It is such a colorful program with all the lights and music. I love it when she says, “Farewell Frosty” to Frosty the Snowman. The crowds are huge and all over the main level, so if you go see it in the future get there early. The light show is only during the holiday season so take the special trip out to see it. It is only about twenty minutes long but still it is one of the things I look forward to seeing.
This is one of the nicest shots of the show I could find online:
The Macy’s Christmas Show in the rotunda of the store
My main purpose and then I made a B-line to be the Reading Terminal Market for lunch. Somehow there are just regions where you cannot replicate the foods from that area. Philly is one of those places. I had not been to the city since the spring, and I needed my serious cheesesteak fix and the best place to do that in the downtown area is Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies & Cheesesteaks.
The Reading Market Terminal for all those wonderful restaurants
Located in the center of the Reading Terminal Market, which is only about two blocks from City Hall, Carmen’s has some of the best sandwiches in the city. I have my usual plain Cheesesteak with Cheese Wiz.
Inside the Reading Market Terminal by Carmine’s
Sorry New York City, we do a lot of things great up here but cheesesteaks like this are not one of them. They load a fresh, soft chewy hoagie bun up with thin sliced steaks and then load that up with loads of Cheese Wiz. Biting into that sandwich is heaven on earth and I enjoy every bite of it. It is always funny to see the staff watch me enjoy my sandwich and the guy that looks like the owner likes it that I enjoy it so much (See TripAdvisor review). It is also fun to talk to the other guests because they come here from all over for the same reason.
Carmine’s at North 51 12th Street for Cheesesteaks is great!
My next part of the trip was to Beiler’s Bakery, which has some of the best doughnuts in the world. These little gems are so beautifully displayed and are constantly being refilled that I do not think that there is a stale doughnut ever in that case. The line wrapped around the counter.
Don’t miss the selection of doughnuts at Beiler’s at 51 North 12th Street
It is fun to watch the doughnuts fried out in front of you and then cooled on the racks. Then each doughnut is hand filled and glazed right in front of the customers behind the glass. All of their fillings are hand-made and are oh so good. I had a strawberry glazed with what tasted like fresh strawberry jelly and I had a peppermint cream filled doughnut that was a specialty for the holidays that had just a hint of the peppermint sweetness. It was a hard choice though. I could have eaten a dozen but you have to be good here (See TripAdvisor review).
After lunch was over it was off to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the “Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism 1910-1950”, which was well-worth the trip. You don’t get to see much of this art in New York museums or just on a smaller scale than this. The exhibition showed such a wide range of art from the traditional landscapes to cubism and the modern person. I liked the way the way that the curator set the exhibit up. It jumped around and as it flowed you saw the art from many perspectives. I advise readers in the New York area to take a trip down to see this exhibition.
Philadelphia Art Museum at 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
I walked around the city after my museum visit and saw all the different holiday displays downtown. Philly really is a pretty city and the downtown has been much improved in the last ten years. It is so much more vibrant and safer than in years past.
Before I took the train back up to New York City, I took one more stop at the Reading Market to go to Basset’s Ice Cream for a cone and stop at Beiler’s Bakery across from their doughnut stand to take some baked goods home. I can’t get Shoofly pie or proper moon pies at home.
Again the place was still so busy and I was able to load up on Whoopie Pies, Shoofly Pie and Sweet Rolls for the trip home and some Whoopie Pies for my aunt who needed some cheering up. They are so well-baked and delicious I wanted to eat them there. Everyone at the stand was so patient with me as I had to make my decisions. Add in a few fry pies and I was done for the day (See review on TripAdvisor).
Next was off to Basset’s Ice Cream for a cone for my walk back to the station. I settled on the holiday Eggnog flavor (Yum) and the Pomegranate and Blueberry flavor (unusual and worked). On a fresh waffle cone there is nothing like it even in the winter. Everyone I passed saw the huge smile on my face and made comments about eating ice cream in the winter. Sorry folks, there is nothing like ice cream with butter fat in it to make a man smile (See review on TripAdvisor). It was a great walk back to the train station. All the lights went on in downtown and the City Hall Market looked even more festive.
Basset’s Ice Cream at 45 North 12th Street at the Reading Terminal Market
The train station was beautifully decorated with lights, wreaths and a huge tree and it was nice to just sit back and relax until the train came. On the way back, the city was all lite in front of me. The boat houses on the river were lit with Christmas lights and boats passed by lit up as well.
The latter part of the evening when I got back to New York City was a quick trip to the Met to see their Christmas Tree and an evening of looking at the windows of Barney’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. I took a quick trip through the holiday market in Bryant Park and then to Port Authority. It really was the perfect day to get into the holiday mood.
I took some time off this weekend to be a supportive Alumni. Michigan State was playing Ohio State at home but I took the train down to Philly to go to the see the Penn vs Cornell game.
I don’t get down to Philly the number of times that I would like to and I take the train when I need my cheese steak fix. New York City is known for so many cuisines but no one I can find can make a cheesesteak like Carmine’s in the Reading Market. You just can’t seem to get a good Cheesesteak in New Jersey or New York City unless someone is from Philly. So, I made my pilgrimage to Philly for a football game and a sandwich.
In 2015, I lucked out too. The day of the game it was a beautiful warm afternoon and the last time I went to Philly for the Penn vs Cornell game it was cloudy and cold being the end of November. This year we are having a surprisingly warm Fall. In 2015, the game was a complete bust as Penn walked all over us. In 2021, both teams were pathetic but we were able to squeak by with a win of 15-12. Both games were not that good.
Cornell versus Penn in 2015
In both years, what really annoyed the Cornell Alumni was that they closed off the other half of the stadium for “construction purposes”, a fancy way of saying that they did not want to clean up the whole stadium after the game was over with so we had to sit with the Penn Alumni who we outnumbered like we did the Yale Alumni in their own stadium a few months earlier. It did not make much of a difference as our team has had a terrible season coupled with the only win over Columbia and that was with a field goal. Both years we were freezing under the awning of the stadium while the other side of the stadium was nice and sunny.
Penn was no better. Most of our Alumni went to the far reaches of the stadium as the blood-bath started and by the second half, we started to turn things around but it was too little too late. We caught up somewhat in the second half but still lost the game 34-21. So much for another Cornell season.
Before the game made up for it. It was nice to walk around Philly in the nice weather. We had an Alumni tailgate a few blocks from the stadium and we have a really good band. Like Michigan State (one of my four Alma Maters), even when the season is at its worst, Cornell Alumni are really supportive, so it was nice to listen to the music before the game. They started to march down to the stadium while I was touring around the Penn campus.
University of Pennsylvania facing downtown Philadelphia
Before the game, I got to walk around the Penn Campus which is really nice for a city campus. You would never know you were in a section of downtown Philly. The stadium itself is really nice. One of the more traditional stadiums in the Ivy League which is sadly never filled with Penn students and alumni. For a team that just shared the Ivy League title they are constantly being outnumbered by supportive Cornell Alumni who out cheer them every season. You should have seen the game two years ago, a nail biter that went down to the last play in which we upset them by one point.
Although not the game of the century, for us at Cornell it was the big game. We filled a big portion of our side of the stadium while the home team seemed to drift in when they wanted to that afternoon. Their Alumni seem to have gotten a little more supportive in the last two years.
The best part of the afternoon was not the game itself or the cheering fans, it was the food vendor located outside Franklin Field in on non-descript truck. These Greek gentleman (as they proudly told me when I asked if they were Italian) made one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten for only $4.00, compared to the highway robbery of $9.00 in the stadium.
The Chicken Philly Cheese steak and their homemade Meatball subs on a fresh chewy hoagie roll when heaven on earth. Maybe it was the quality of the meat, the freshness of the bread or just the way it all came together with their friendly personalities but that experience really made the game. The truck is located outside the stadium and I don’t know if it is there all the time but if you are in Philly, flock to this truck which is one block from the Penn Museum. The meatballs are so full of flavor and the sauce so rich the sandwich itself is a reason to go to Philly.
Even though we got our butts kicked that afternoon by thirteen points and it ended our season on a low note, it was still fun to walk around and experience Philly on a brisk Fall Day. Very different from New York but unique in its own way.
At least on the way back on the Acela, my best friend, Kris and I exchanged phone calls on the Michigan State-Ohio State game. That nail-biter ended as I exited the train in Penn Station, New York City. That game we won 17-14 on a last-minute field goal.
This was the first time I had been down for the Penn versus Cornell game since 2017 and that time it was freezing cold. I missed the 2019 game because I had to work on Saturday mornings and it was impossible to make the train or even drive down before the game was over. Since class was on Friday night this year, I made sure that all the housework was done before I left, all my class work for the students was done and all the bills were paid before I left. I had a clean conscious and could relax. Even though I was only gone barely twenty-six hours, I got such a good night’s sleep, I felt like I was gone for a week.
I took the Northeast Regional down to Philly which I have to say is a nice ride. I arrived in the City in about an hour and a half and the best part was that the hotel I was staying at downtown was fifteen minutes away walking. It was in the high 50’s when I arrived and ended up being around 63 degrees by the afternoon. It was clear and sunny for the whole day which was a pleasure. Drexel University which is located right next to Penn was having their Parent’s Weekend so both colleges were buzzing with students and parents.
Just north of the Penn campus, the Cornell Alumni had set up their tailgate and when I dropped my luggage off at the Sheraton Downtown at 201 North 17th Street, I double backed to the train station and walked behind it to College Park where both colleges are located.
Sheraton Downtown Philadelphia at 201 North 17th Street
Just as I got onto campus, the band and the cheerleaders showed up and we had a mini pep-rally in the tailgate area. This was really nice because neither had been at the Yale game a few months earlier. It was nice to have some spirit and cheer and I will tell you that the band was in the mood to play for us as well. They played our fight songs and school song and all sorts of traditional ‘pep’ music to get everyone going before the game.
The game itself was a real dud. Both teams looked worse for the wear and neither of us scored until the end of the first quarter when we scored a touchdown. We scored two touchdowns before and they were both called back so it was very frustrating. The whole game was frustrating coupled by sitting in the one section of the stadium that was so cold. The rest of the stadium was lit by the sun and we were in the same section as the Penn Alumni and it was all shade. By the second half, I stood on the other side of the stadium near the bar area they set up and finally got some sun and heat. They were much better.
In the end, we won 15-12 and I have to say that it was not much a match up. The one thing I do like about Franklin Field is the concession stands. They are loaded with all the foods that are bad for you and so good at the same time. I had a cheesesteak, a slice of pizza and a Coke and it did not break the bank and on top of that, everything was delicious. The people at the concession stand know how to make a cheesesteak with provolone.
After we won, I had about an hour after the game so I ventured over to the Penn Museum that is located across the street.
The entrance to the Penn Museum at 3269 South Street
In the three times that I have visited the museum, I never get to spend the time at this wonderful little gem that I want because there are so many great museums in Philly and it is hard to get over here except during football season.
The “What We Wear” exhibition at the Penn Museum
The museum has extensive Greek, Egyptian and Pre-Columbian Galleries to explore and on a nice day, the gardens and fountains are relaxing to sit by. I got to tour the “What We Wear” exhibition before the museum closed. The day of the game as the museum closed down for the afternoon, I got to watch our team leave the stadium. The parents were all riled up after the win.
Since it was getting late, I decided to tour parts of the Penn and Drexel campuses before it got too dark outside. I loved looking into the quads and older buildings that make up the character of these two campuses. Both campuses were still busy with groups of families but everything else was closing around them. I decided to walk over to the Reading Market for a snack before relaxing at the hotel.
The Reading Market Terminal at 501 North 12th Street
By the time I got there after 6:00pm, the market had already closed for the day. I was bummed but would come back for breakfast the next morning. I walked around Chinatown in search of a small take-out place.
I came across Asia Bakery at 115 North Street in Chinatown. It was a relief to find this place as I was not hungry and it had the most amazing baked products. The Roast Pork Buns here are delicious and the Cream filled Buns are excellent (See review on TripAdvisor). They didn’t even make it back to the hotel as I ate them on the way back to the Sheraton.
When I got back to the Sheraton, I hit the pillow that evening and I did not wake up until the 8:30am the next morning. I had one of the best night’s sleeps in ages. The beds at the Marriott are the best, so soft yet firm. You will get the best night’s sleep on these beds.
The next day I was refreshed and ready for a long day of touring. My goal was to explore Old Town Philadelphia again and I wanted to start with breakfast at the Reading Market at Pearl’s Oyster Market located right inside the Terminal.
Breakfast at Pearl’s Oyster Bar was the best. I had the most amazing Breakfast platter with French Toast, Scrambled eggs, turkey sausage from a butcher in the Market and a side of Hash Browns and everything was delicious. The portion size was not gargantuan but was enough to cover me until lunch. The French toast was nice pieces of hallah bread dipped in a flavorful cinnamon mixture and cooked until a golden brown.
After breakfast, it was off to explore Old Town Philadelphia. I had been to Philly over the summer and there were places I wanted to revisit and places on the bucket list. My first stop was the Elfreth’s Alley Association Museum at 126 Elfreth’s Alley. This unique little house shows how early merchants ran their businesses and lived.
Elfreth’s Alley Association Museum at 126 Elfreth’s Alley
This interesting little museum lets you experience what it was like to live like a merchant in the late 1700’s. The shop was in the front of the home facing the windows and you would do business with the customers in the front of the house while the family had the kitchen in the back and lived upstairs in the small bedroom. I could not believe that a family of six once lived here. In the back, there is a small garden to sit outside and relax.
My next museum on the tour of the neighborhood was the Betsey Ross House at 239 Arch Street. This is one of the last of its kind on the block and barely lasted the chopping block of the 1960’s urban renewal of the area.
What fascinated me about the tour is that Betsy Ross had been married twice and did not even own this house. She rented rooms from the owner and ran her own upholster business from the front of the store and lived in a room in the back with her husband. There were also other people living in the house at the time and it is not that big of a house. She was approached by the Patriots about creating the flag which she had never done before.
It was interesting that she was an independent businesswoman when many women did not have employment. Also, when I reached the last room of the house, the actor playing her was so convincing as Betsy Ross, I felt like I was talking to the real person.
After the tour of the Betsy Ross House, the next museum in the neighborhood I visited was the Fireman’s Hall Museum at 149 North Second Street. This museum is the perfect place for out-of-town firefighters and their families to see how the Philadelphia Fire Department was founded and operates.
I found the museum fascinating in that you have the entire history of the modern fire department from the bucket brigade to the current engines and Trucks that operate today. You can see where Benjamin Franklin organized the first departments to the days when they were run by the insurance companies.
The best part is that the museum is run by the Philadelphia Fire Department and you get to meet several of the firemen when you visit who can answer all sorts of questions about their department.
The last museum on my bucket list to visit on this trip was the Museum of the American Revolution at 101 South 3rd Street.
The Museum of the American Revolution at 101 South 3rd Street
I found this museum not only interesting but very educational. It described the entire Revolutionary War from the acts that England put on the Colonists from the Stamp Act to the Tea Taxes and not even consulting with the Colonial Administration on these decisions.
What I found fascinating about this museum is that they had George Washington’s tent that he used in battle, original weapons from the war and more interestingly is that they had pieces of the King George Statue that was pulled down by New Yorkers in Bowling Green Park. I had thought it had been destroyed and melted down. I even found out that the head had been smuggled back to England.
I was tired of all the museums that I had visited in both the July and October trips and it was time to sample the food of Philadelphia’s Old Town. There was a lot to choose from. My first stop was Big Ass Slices at 224 Market Street.
I love the logo for Big Ass Slices at 224 Market Street
The name does not do the pizza justice. The slices are oversized being the size of two slices and have a delicious pizza sauce that makes the body of the pizza ($5.30 for a Big Ass Slice). What was nice was that I was able to eat it indoors without enduring the cool afternoon.
Another stop I made on my summer trip was The Franklin Ice Cream Bar for ice cream. The other ice cream shops were either closed at the time of the night or had long lines. The Franklin Ice Cream Bar at 112 Market Street and its sister store, The Franklin Fountain at 116 Market Street were both busy that day. The ice cream is homemade and amazing but expensive ($8.50 for a medium cup). I had the Caramelized Banana and the Sea Salt Caramel and I highly recommend them.
The next on the list was Shane’s Confectionary at 110 Market Street. This over 100-year-old candy store was very interesting as it was like taking a step back in time when merchants made a statement not about their product but the way it was presented and sold.
You walk into the store and you are greeted by gas lamps and wooden cases that showcase the chocolates. I have to admit the prices are pretty high but these are homemade candies made inhouse. I bought one of their well-known Lighthouse chocolates and a Chocolate covered Truffle, another specialty they were known for that totaled $7.50 for two pieces of chocolate. Totally worth it! Both tasted so good.
I walked down some of the side streets and passed many of the boutiques that make up. One store that stood out was Claudia Mills Rugs at 133 North 3rd Street. This interesting store was a standout in that they creating the rugs right inside with the looms working as you walk in.
The finished products lined the walls in all their colorful glory. It is the perfect store for decorators and people looking to add some zing to their home decor.
With all this walking in Old Town Philadelphia, I started to get hungry again and decided instead of heading back to the Reading Market, I wanted to try a new place for a cheesesteak. I went to Campo’s Philly Cheesesteak at 214 Market Street.
I now know why this restaurant has been open since 1947. The cheesesteaks are excellent. I ordered a Cheesesteak w/o (without onions) and Wiz (Cheese Wiz), the only way I will eat a cheesesteak. The hoagie roll was so soft and chewy and the Cheese Wiz pulled the thin steaks together and the taste was amazing. It was nice to eat inside with other people again.
The Cheesesteaks were amazing!
I walked down to the Delaware River and looked at the Camden Waterfront. God has that changed but at least they are trying with the city. There are now parks, hotels and the aquarium and they look like they are building new housing. Rutgers expanded their campus in Camden so that has helped.
I passed the Independence Seaport Museum (for the next trip, it was closing for the day) and walked along the path and watched the cars and boats pass by. It must have been something for those early colonists who saw only woods and a lot of promise when they walked along the same path. I saw Philly coming back to life and that was a good thing. It had been shut down too long before I returned in July and then in November.
I walked back to the now closing Reading Market Terminal and walked through the hallways again watching tourists ordering the last of their meals and taking gifts home with them. It was such a relaxing overnight stay and it was good to revisit the museums and shops I had visited over the summer to get a new perspective on them. I was able to update a lot on MywalkinManhattan.com and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com so it was a good working trip.
That and we beat Penn! That made the trip all worth it! I will be back to Philly soon.
Go Spartans and Go Big Red! Go Green Go White! Go Red!
There were no highlights on the Cornell versus Penn game in 2015. We lost 34-21.
Cornell versus Penn 2021: 15-12 (Won)
Michigan State versus Ohio State 2015: 17-14 (won)