Liberty Bell

About

From Signal to Symbol The State House bell, now known as the Liberty Bell, rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House. Today, we call that building Independence Hall. Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly Isaac Norris first ordered a bell for the bell tower in 1751 from the Whitechapel Foundry in London. That bell cracked on the first test ring. Local metalworkers John Pass and John Stow melted down that bell and cast a new one right here in Philadelphia. It's this bell that would ring to call lawmakers to their meetings and the townspeople together to hear the reading of the news. Benjamin Franklin wrote to Catherine Ray in 1755, "Adieu, the Bell rings, and I must go among the Grave ones and talk Politicks." It's not until the 1830's that the old State House bell would begin to take on significance as a symbol of liberty. The Crack No one recorded when or why the Liberty Bell first cracked, but the most likely explanation is that a narrow split developed in the early 1840's after nearly 90 years of hard use. In 1846, when the city decided to repair the bell prior to George Washington's birthday holiday (February 23), metal workers widened the thin crack to prevent its farther spread and restore the tone of the bell using a technique called "stop drilling". The wide "crack" in the Liberty Bell is actually the repair job! Look carefully and you'll see over 40 drill bit marks in that wide "crack". But, the repair was not successful. The Public Ledger newspaper reported that the repair failed when another fissure developed. This second crack, running from the abbreviation for "Philadelphia" up through the word "Liberty", silenced the bell forever. No one living today has heard the bell ring freely with its clapper, but computer modeling provides some clues into the sound of the Liberty Bell. Bell Facts The two lines of text around the top of the bell include the inscription of liberty, and information about who ordered the bell (Pennsylvania Assembly) and why (to go in their State House): Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof Lev. XXV X By Order of the ASSEMBLY of the Province of PENSYLVANIA [sic] for the State House in Philada The information on the face of the bell tells us who cast the bell (John Pass and John Stow), where (Philadelphia) and when (1753): Pass and Stow Philada MDCCLIII The bell weighed 2,080 lbs. at order. It is made of bronze. It's 70% copper, 25% tin and contains small amounts of lead, gold, arsenic, silver, and zinc. The bell's wooden yoke is American elm, but there is no proof that it is the original yoke for this bell. While there is evidence that the bell rang to mark the Stamp Act tax and its repeal, there is no evidence that the bell rang on July 4 or 8, 1776.


Additional Information

What makes this business unique? The original Liberty Bell

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Contact

143 S. 3rd Street
19106

The Liberty Bell Center is located at 6th and Market Streets. Entrance doors are located on the north end of the building, near the President's House Site. Visitors exit from the south end of the building, near Chestnut Street. The GPS address is 526 Market Street.

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Features

  • Admission is FREE
  • NO tickets are required
  • Exhibits line the left side of the hallway in the Liberty Bell Center
  • The Liberty Bell Center is wheelchair accessible
  • The video presentation is open captioned and audio described
  • The video presentation is offered in several languages

Hours

Open daily 9am to 7pm through September 4, 2017 Closed at 3pm on Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day. The security screening area closes 5 minutes before the building closes. Check back for fall hours Admission is FREE.

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Contact

(215) 965-2305



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