The name given to the historic area north of Independence Hall, Independence Mall is bordered by several historic structures and a great area for tourists to explore.
Creation of the Mall
The term “Independence Mall” was first coined in 1945, when the area north of Independence Hall was designated as Independence Mall State Park. One year later, in 1946, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Martin provided the required funding to create the Independence Mall. The money was needed for the acquisition and demolition of buildings covering nine city blocks near Independence Hall. The idea was to create a large plaza in order to provide an appropriate setting for the historic eighteenth-century building.
Construction of the Independence Mall finally started in 1951 with the demolishment of the first buildings. It would take until 1967 before the Independence Mall was officially completed. In 1973, management of the mall was taken over by the National Park Service and the Independence Mall became a part of the larger Independence National Historical Park.
Independence Mall Today
The Independence Mall is an expansive park-like area surrounded by a number of historic buildings, including not only Independence Hall but also the Liberty Bell Pavilion and the modern National Constitution Center. The Mall is often the site of food festivals, musical performances, and other special events sponsored by the city of Philadelphia, especially during the summer months. It’s also just a good place to sit and relax and enjoy the history around you.
Buildings on Independence Mall
The most important building at the Independence Mall is the building for which the mall was created: the Independence Hall, a Georgian building constructed between the years 1732 and 1756. It was here that the founding fathers of America drafted and adopted the Declaration of Independence and also appointed George Washington as the commander of the Continental Army.
The Liberty Bell, which used to hang in the tower in Independence Hall, has had its own home for the past several years. The Liberty Bell Center, where the bell is now situated, was built in 2003. This glass structure allows for easy viewing of the bell and guests can even pose for pictures in front of the famous icon of freedom.
The National Constitution Center, opened on July 4, 2003, is another recent structure to arise in the Independence Mall area. Built to increase the awareness and understanding of the U.S. Constitution among Americans and other guests, a visit to this contemporary museum includes a live-narrative media experience and several intriguing exhibits that prompt discussion among visitors.
On the east side of the Mall is the Philadelphia Bourse Building. Modeled after the great bourse (meaning “place of exchange”) in Hamburg, Germany, this structure opened in 1895 and was one of the first steel-framed buildings to be constructed. Fashioned from Carlisle redstone, Pompeian buff brick and terra cotta, this building’s original tenants included American Telephone and Telegraphy and McCormick Steamship Lines. Today, you’ll find a number of shops and a food court inside this ornate building, as well as offices for a number of Philadelphia companies.
Other notable buildings around Independence Mall include the U.S. Mint, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the headquarters of a local Philadelphia television station.