The Liberty Bell Center has just one purpose: showcasing the bell that became the symbol of America’s independence. The bell has a resounding history in Philadelphia and the nation it was rang through the town to announce the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, on July 8, 1776.
Before 1776 the bell had been tolled to mark special occasions in what later became the Independence Hall. Anti-slavery activists first named it the Liberty Bell in the 1830s. In the late 1800s, the now cracked bell toured the nation as the physical representation of freedom. The bell’s biblical inscription, “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof,” proudly proclaims this icon of freedom’s purpose.
Admire the retired bell in a large glass gazebo in the Liberty Bell Center. It isn’t big, but because it’s cast from mainly copper and tin it is very heavy. Behind the bell is a picture of Independence Hall, its original home. There’s an interesting display of historic documents, photos and videos that explains the facts and myths surrounding the Liberty Bell. Learn where and why it was made, when it was cracked and why Pennsylvania is misspelled in its inscription.
The Liberty Bell Center is located in central Philadelphia, and parking is available. The center is part of the National Historical Park, open daily year-round. Entry to the park and the center is free. There is often a line because of the security scan at the entrance, and the bell itself is roped off. You can also view the bell from Market Street in Old City, so even if you find the Liberty Bell Center closed or too crowded, you don’t have to miss out.