The historical district of Philadelphia has never been one of the hottest destinations for tourists in the United States. Unlike the fabricated display of Colonial Williamsburg, Philadelphia offers the real thing, a historical playground embedded in the heart of a modern metropolis. But the tourism dollars are going elsewhere. Whether it's the thick urban atmosphere or the threat of theft and violence, good excuses for skipping Philadelphia--especially with the city's proximity to New York and Washington, DC--are plentiful and varied.
A park interpreter at Independence National Historical Park believes the lack of enthusiasm on the part of tourists is likely to be especially obvious this coming Independence Day. "You just need to look at the count sheets for the Liberty Bell to get the idea," she said. "The Bell has always been the most popular feature in the park, but now we're not getting half as many visitors as we did five years ago. Who's coming to Philly? Who wants to come to Philly? The crowds on July 4 are mostly local."
One solution for this, of course, is a more vigorous campaign to attract tourists for what the city has to offer--namely, the true birthplace of the United States. "The city needs to let the world know what happened here," the interpreter continued. "It's not every day that a people unanimously and knowingly commit treason in order to liberate the land. And that's exactly what the signers of the Declaration of Independence did--they put their names to treason against KingIII. We can't forget that."
Emilie J. Conroy, Philadelphia