Posted on April 4th 2015, by Kelsey Gliva
It’s 9:00 AM on a Monday morning, and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall is almost entirely vacant – a treasured rarity. The sprawling green space sandwiched between the Liberty Bell and the Constitution Center is usually packed with students on field trips and large tour groups, but today this national gem is shrouded in a peaceful quiet.
In this state of calm, it’s easy to take note of the precious details that characterize the neighborhood. Hanging lanterns, wrought-iron doorknockers, white picket fences, and cobblestone walkways paint a picture of historical importance. It’s easy to lose yourself in time weaving through side streets and reflecting on the symbolic nature of the area.
Today we view Society Hill as a charming reminder of our revolutionary roots – a quaint residential area, a tourist hot spot, a historical stretch protected by park rangers and security guards. Although the physical aspects of the neighborhood stand frozen in time, Philadelphia’s inhabitants have more in common with their old city predecessors than modern-day amenities would suggest. Yes, horses pulling carriages of tourists now wait in front of traffic lights and admission into Independence Hall is allowed only with proof of purchase, but life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are as central to our lives as they were to the Founding Fathers nearly 240 years ago.
We’re still fighting for the truths that our revolutionary heroes found self-evident: that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. We’re still fighting for racial equality on our streets, gender equality in the workplace, and sexual equality at the altar. We’re still fighting for our neighbors abroad, many of which don’t enjoy the same freedoms that we often take for granted. We’re still fighting.
Old City and Society Hill stands as more than picturesque landmarks in the oldest neighborhoods in Philadelphia: it’s a reminder of our lasting connection to our nation’s purpose. It’s where we started, and where we still hope to go.
Photography and Text by Kelsey Gliva, Copyright 2015
About the Author: Kelsey Gliva is a senior enrolled in the Wharton School of Business, Class of 2015.