Liberty Bell, Independence Hall reopen in Old City

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The foot traffic around Independence Hall used to be virtually non-existent at the height of the pandemic - but no more. The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Independence Visitor Center officially reopened Wednesday after being closed since March 16.

"We actually didn't plan it but we went to the Visitor's Center and we just found out so we feel pretty lucky that it just opened," said Taber Yim of New Hampshire.


Action News spoke with families who said visiting Independence Mall was an incredible educational opportunity.

"It's good to get them out and see different things and the historic sites and get some of this history in," said Matthew Hicks of Boston.

Old City Hall, Second Bank Portrait Gallery and Friends Quaker Meeting House also reopened Wednesday.

"We just want to expose her at a young age to how our country was founded and the history of our country and just walk around and enjoy the city together," said mother Michelle Campbell of Mechanicsburg.

"Park staff have been working to implement our adaptive recovery plan," explained Cynthia MacLeod, Superintendent of Independence National Historical Park. "We have modified operations for tours and visitor services to keep numbers within City guidelines, installed markers to prompt social distancing, added clear protective shields at public contact stations, and prepared staff."


Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Independence Visitor Center, Old City Hall, Second Bank Portrait Gallery, and Friends Quaker Meeting House re-opened to visitors.

Buildings are reopening at 20 percent capacity to meet city guidelines for museums, pre-pandemic numbers at Independence Hall were approximately 65 every 15 minutes.

"The numbers into the buildings have been reduced to allow for both staff and visitor safety so that way they won't have to socially distance while in the buildings," said Supervisory Park Ranger Nick Clemons.

All the buildings are outfitted with social distancing markers and signs to remind visitors to wear a mask. Local tour guides say the re-openings are good for business.

"We've been shut down for the majority of our season," said Tim McAleer, owner and founder of Founding Footsteps Tours. "It's obviously a very cyclical business so to lose all of spring and summer was very difficult."


Tim McAleer said people are coming out again and he hopes it stays that way.

"It's a lot easier to sell Philadelphia when you can get into the things that people want to see in Philadelphia," said McAleer.

At the Liberty Bell Center, approximately 400 at a time. The NPS encourages visitors to plan their visit by checking the park's website and social media for current conditions and travel tips.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We ask the public to be our partner in recreating responsibly, by following CDC and state and local guidance, social distancing, and wearing a face covering when social distance cannot be maintained. Park buildings originally closed March 16, 2020 due to the pandemic. Outdoor areas remained open.
Visitation at the park is normally busiest April-October. Additional background information on park visitation statistics is available on NPS.gov. and on our park website: https://www.nps.gov/inde/learn/management/statistics.htm
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