Tuesday, 6 October 2009

American history trail

PHILADELPHIA - Spending a week in the States has given us the opportunity to see a lot of great American historical sights. We spent the last few days in Washington DC, before taking the train up here today. The walk from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol, past the various veteran's memorials, is pretty stunning. The White House is fairly well hidden from the front, with two closed off streets, but offers better views round back.

The Presidential portraits in the National Portrait Gallery are impressive, but the current exhibition of portraits from the American West is fascinating, as are some of the pictures from Lincoln's inauguration. A newer museum that is particularly fascinating is the Newseum, where they have an amazing collection of newspaper front pages, as well as lots of broadcast history. The modern building, which only opened last year, is currently hosting a fascinating exhibit on coverage of a divided Berlin, complete with pieces of the Wall.

We stayed at the Fairmont, a great base for nearby Georgetown as well as walking downtown. There was plenty of good food, but we particularly enjoyed a jazz brunch on Sunday at Georgia Brown's, an excellent Italian supper at Cafe Milano and a great breakfast at Afterwords in Dupont Circle. Taxis seemed particularly good value compared with London.

Today in Philadelphia we had the chance to walk around the historical district in Independence National Park, seeing the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Carpenters' Hall and the Franklin Court museum. Philadelphia is justly proud of its central role in the story of independence, federalism and the Constitution. The historic buildings sit uneasily cheek by jowl with modern buildings, but exude a real sense of history. All in all, a great four day history lesson.

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