Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania and the sixth-largest in the country. The birthplace of the United States, cheesesteaks and Rocky, Philadelphia is teeming with rich culture and history. The city is a hub of political significance and was the location of the original reading of the Declaration of Independence, the bill that began the process of national independence from Great Britain.
Philadelphia was the location of the first major LGBT+ rights demonstration in 1965 and ever since has championed LGBT+ individual’s rights to equality, dignity and respect. Today the city boasts an excellent and varied gay nightlife scene, a strong and diversity-focused community and endless options of attractions and sights for gay travelers.
The Liberty Bell
According to legend, in 1776 the Liberty Bell rang from the tower of the Independence Hall, summoning the citizens of Philadelphia to the first reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon. The bell rose to prominence when the abolitionists of the Civil War adopted it as the symbol for their mission of fighting for the end of slavery.
The iconic crack that is so recognisable first appeared in 1846, when it was rendered unringable for the celebrations of George Washington’s Birthday. After the civil war, the Liberty Bell was toured across the United States in an effort to inspire freedom and achieve complete liberty.
Today the Liberty Bell sits in its own designated memorial centre and as of 2003 visitors have been able to freely appreciate and observe the bell in all of its spectacular glory. Every year the bell is tapped on Martin Luther King’s Birthday in remembrance of the activist and political leader.
Philadelphia has a long history of providing LGBT+ people with a haven of tolerance, respect and freedom of expression. The city was the first in the world to adopt the inclusive pride flag, featuring black and brown stripes to symbolise support and solidarity with members of the community who belong to minority ethnic groups. Home to a large and established gay scene, The city boasts a range of gay bars and clubs in Philadelphia.
Woody’s is a staple of the Philadephia gay nightlife scene and the club has been serving the LGBT+ population of the city for 40 years. Woody’s is situated close to the city’s main gay area in Washington Square West and the multi-storey venue features several dancefloors, a quieter pub room and even a coffee shop.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Once the world’s largest and most expensive prison, the Eastern State Penitentiary was built to house the USA’s most dangerous and violent offenders. The prison was one of the first true penitentiaries to be built and struck fear and regret into the hearts of its inmates, who walked the dark corridors and occupied the cramped and squalid cells. Two of the prison’s most famous inmates were bank robber “slick willie” Sutton and the infamous Al Capone.
Today the Eastern State Penitentiary doesn’t house any offenders, instead, it’s now an immersive and interactive historical experience, designed to educate the public on the conditions within the US prison system and the nature of American criminal justice reform. The prison is located just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
Love Park is officially named the John F Kennedy Plaza and is located in the centre of Downtown Philadephia. The park was constructed in 1965 and covers a large underground parking complex. The focal point of the park was originally intended to be the tall single spurt fountain that erupts from its centre, however, the park became best known for the iconic Love sculpture that was erected by Robert Indiana in 1976.
A number of events take place at the John F Kennedy Plaza, including part of the city’s annual pride celebrations. The park is home to multiple green lawns that are open for casual use by the public and the central location of the park positions it nearby to many of the city’s most popular attractions, including the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Constructed in 1918, The Benjamin Franklin Parkway was modelled off of the Champs Elysées in Paris and was designed to memorialise the former president and act as a landmark by which the city would achieve global recognition. The parkway is formal in its design and features multiple fountains and ornate monuments, all of which give the location a sense of reflection and significance.
The tree-lined streets of The Benjamin Franklin Parkway have developed an identity as a cultural mecca in Philadelphia, and the epicentre of the city’s Arts District. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation and the Moore College of Art and Design are all located along the parkway and contribute to its reputation as the focal point of Philadelphia’s artistic community.
by George Pizani | On: Gay Philadelphia