Many Philadelphia tourist sites still open despite government shutdown

A visitor to Philadelphia takes a photo of the Liberty Bell from outside the building, since it is closed due to the government shutdown. Credit: Charles Mostoller, Metro
A visitor to Philadelphia takes a photo of the Liberty Bell from outside the building, since it is closed due to the government shutdown. Credit: Charles Mostoller/Metro

Laura Pruitt and her husband, who live in Atlanta but are in Philadelphia visiting their son, saw some of the city’s historic sites Monday. But they had saved their Liberty Bell visit for yesterday.

That attraction — along with the Independence Visitor Center on Sixth and Market streets — are closed due to the government shutdown.

“If I really thought this was going to happen,” said Pruitt, who is leaving the city today, “I probably would have come down here yesterday. As usual, I thought it was a farce. It’s just par for our government.”

Pruitt is like many other tourists in Philadelphia this week who were greeted with closed signs or fences around popular historical attractions like the Liberty Bell, the Benjamin Franklin Museum and the Edgar Allen Poe House.

But Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, doesn’t want the shutdown to discourage visitors from taking in the city’s history or anything else it has to offer.

“There’s no single reason to come to Philadelphia,” Levitz said. “People are coming here for all sorts of reasons. We’ll be promoting all the other reasons that have nothing to do with the shutdown of government.”

Historical destinations like the National Constitution Center and Franklin Square remain open. And other venues, like the Philadelphia Zoo and the Museum of Art are not affected by the shutdown.

But to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall on a list of closed sites, Levitz said “it just hurts the heart.”

“Hopefully, for many, many reasons aside from tourism, this will be over with soon enough,” she said.

U.S. Park Rangers move barricades to close off Independence Mall due to the government shutdown. Credit: Charles Mostoller, Metro
U.S. park rangers move barricades to close off Independence Mall due to the government shutdown. Credit: Charles Mostoller/Metro

Though the main Independence Visitor Center is closed, there are three satellite locations in Center City to get tickets, information, maps and more.

“It’s eerie down here today,” said Jim Cuorato, president and CEO of the IVC.

During his lunch break yesterday, Cuorato walked around the center’s mall and spoke to some visitors.

“I heard a lot of expressions of disappointment,” he said. “The Liberty Bell and the Independence Visitor Center are arguably the two biggest attractions in the city. This is weird and strange, and we just want everything back to normal.”

More than two dozen IVC employees are affected, and administrators will be out of work as well if the shutdown lasts into next week.

“If [the shutdown] is short and we can get back to normal operations within a day or two, I think we can recover quickly,” Cuorato said. “If this drags on, I don’t see any good that will come out of it.”

What’s open and what’s closed?

OPEN

The Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Barnes Foundation
The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
The Franklin Institute
The Academy of Natural Sciences
The Philadelphia Zoo
The Penn Museum
The National Constitution Center
Buildings in the Independence National Historical Park that are not federally run
The National Museum of American Jewish History (They are operating in a pay-what-you-wish capacity for the duration of the shutdown.)
Three other visitors centers — City Hall Visitor Center, Fairmount Park Welcome Center and Sister Cities Park Visitor Center
The Betsy Ross House
Franklin Square
The Historic Philadelphia Center
City Tavern Restaurant in Old City

CLOSED

Independence National Historical Park, which includes the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall
Bishop White House
Dolley Todd House
New Hall Military Museum
The Declaration House
Fragments of Franklin Court
The Germantown White House
The Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market streets
Valley Forge National Historical Park



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