Trip - March 23-25, 2017

Note: click on the thumbnails for a larger image

Every other year or so, my wife attends a music conference which she can count as professional development (no, it isn't a vacation, and yes, she does get a lot out of it!). Now that I have more vacation time, I've gotten in the habit of taking time off to accompany her. While she is at the conference, I take in the rail scene and other points of interest. This year the conference was in Philadelphia, PA, a city I've only driven through once but always interested me because of the historical sights, as well as the many trains. This narrative documents the highlights of my travels around the area. It is not 100% about trains so it may actually appeal to a broader audience (though not likely).

For me I had several goals on this trip: a) ride SEPTA, b) ride Amtrak, c) hear the Wannamaker pipe organ in Macy's, d) see the historic sights. That was a lot to cram into what basically boiled down to 48 hours in Philadelphia, but with a lot of research and planning I crafted an itinerary for myself to accomplish everything. Thursday would be the SEPTA ride, Friday was a trip on Amtrak and hear the pipe organ and Saturday would be a walking tour of the sights downtown.

Thursday March 23, 2017

The plan was to drop off my wife at the hotel by 12:30 p.m. which would give me just enough time to drive to 30th Street Station and purchase a ticket for SEPTA train 735 which departed at 1:10 p.m. and ran to Trenton, NJ. Things were good until we got close to the hotel which was near Penn Square. Having never driven in downtown Philadelphia before, I was not aware of the "parking lot" that is called Penn Square. To add to the craziness, the hotel address in the GPS was valid, but it was not the address of the pull-in drive way when dropping people off (the hotel web page cited this fact but I neglected to heed their warning). After doing a couple loops around the downtown streets, I dropped off my wife around 12:40 p.m. With the train station only a mile away, I figured I still had plenty of time to make the train.

I got out of the downtown area and followed the signage pointing me to the station which I found, however there was no signage saying where the parking garage for the station was located. After mistakenly pulling in the taxi pull through and taking a trip around the block I finally found the garage on the west side of the station. Only after you turned down 30th Street and drove for a distance did a sign appear pointing to the garage. I quickly parked the car and speed-walked into the station. Fortunately the SEPTA ticket office was near the entrance to the parking garage. After waiting in line for a few minutes I puchased an Independence Day pass which, for $12, allowed for unlimited rides on all SEPTA trains for the day (though I had to pay an extra $5 to go into New Jersey). My track was near the ticket office so I made my way up the stairs and arrived on the platform with about four minutes to spare.

Philadephia, PA
The sign shows my train, 735, is running on time.
The train arrived on time and I got on the lead coach. I remembered reading somewhere that the SEPTA coaches had something called a "railfan seat", and after boarding I understood what they meant. The first row of seats in the lead coach has a forward facing window offering a conductor's view of the tracks ahead. I sat in the row behind to not give away too much my railfan identity, plus I wanted to monitor our speed with the GPS so my focus would be split. We departed on time and navigated the maze of tracks outside the station. The trackage is former Pennsylvania Railroad territory and PRR signals still govern the movements, though some signals have red and green bulbs versus the PRR signals which had amber lights in every socket. Some signals even had LED amber lights which looked a little fake up close but more "authentic" from a distance.

After we got out of the inner city area we began to pick up speed. We were on Track One of the Northeast Corridor (NEC) which has four tracks on this stretch of territory. Between station stops we would quickly gain speed and topped out at 99 mph at a point somewhere between Eddington, PA and Trenton, NJ. A couple things really caught my eye. First, the amount of urban blight and grafitti was incredible and very sad. Rows of abandoned factories, warehouses, houses, etc. in a state of disrepair and all covered with grafitti. Some of the "art" was so elaborate it had to have taken days (weeks?) and cases of spray paint to accomplish. The other thing was that I was amazed at how many rail served business were still active along the line. We passed one or two Norfolk Southern locals which were on industrial spurs switching cars. "Trains Magazine" over the years has published several articles about freight operations on the NEC, and having seen it now in person I can better appreciate the coordination that the dispatchers have to do to keep passenger trains moving while allowing the local freight trains to get from customer to customer on the mains.

Another "a ha" moment was early on during my trip. After we departed the North Philadelphia station, we picked up speed for a time then slowed to a speed around 50 mph for a curve. There were several tracks around the area with a number of cars in a small yard. Then I saw a pedestrian bridge and it dawned on me that we were at Frankford Junction. This was the location of the deadly Amtrak derailment in 2015 where the train was going over twice the MAS (maximum authorized speed) and derailed just before the pedestrian bridge. As we coasted through the area, I thought back to the events leading up to the derailment, time of day, the "loss of situational awareness" by the engineer (a self-proclaimed railfan himself), the other factors such as possible rock throwers in the area, etc. And of course, the people on the train who, unless they were intimately familiar with the surroundings, had no clue that they were going way too fast heading into the curve and may not survive the pending impact. Going through the area really amplified everything that I had read about the event.

Here are a couple links with information about the incident:  

We arrived in Trenton, NJ "on the advertised" at 2:02 p.m. In case I had forgotten I was in New Jersey, the music being piped through the speakers on the platform was from The Jersey Boys! Ha! I had about a half hour before I took train 746 back south to Philadephia so I walked around the station and took in the sights (making myself familiar with the station would help on Friday) and the sounds of the surroundings (continuing to enjoy the music mix of standards and other notable pop/rock tunes). The Trenton station is a busy one with it being served by Amtrak, SEPTA and NJ Transit. Monitors provided information as to which trains were arriving and on what track. In addition, both live (i.e. from what I'll call the Stationmaster) and computerized voice announcements gave ample notificaiton of all arriving trains. The station itself is interesting as the waiting area actually sits over the tracks. It's pretty neat to stand above the tracks and see one of the Acela trains wisk under you at a high rate of speed! I also found it interesting to just watch the action in the station. Taking it all in was very cool for this native from Ohio who has never lived in a city which relied on passenger rail transportation.

I headed down to the platform and waited for my train. While there one of the regional Amtrak trains arrived on Track Four to drop off/pick up passengers. During the train's stop, an Acela train, with almost no warning, whooshed by on Track Three giving everyone a jolt and a rush! After a couple minutes the Amtrak train departed with a Limited Clear signal indication and crossed over to Track Three. By this time my train had arrived on Track Five so I headed into the first car hoping to get the "railfan seat". Unfortunately someone beat me to it so I sat a few rows back (see photo). We departed on time at 2:31 p.m. for the journey back to Philadelphia.

SEPTA Railfan seat
The "railfan seat" was occupied on my trip back to Philadelphia. This rider was taking photos along the way.

On the way back I again tracked our speed with the GPS which for the most part was the same at all points on the trip northward. I pretended to be a member of the crew and called out signals in my head "Clear Indication", "Limited Clear", Advanced Approach", etc. as we passed each of them. As we approached Frankford Junction I payed close attention to our speed (never going above 50 mph) and to the surroundings. Again just passing through this section of track made me reflect on the 2015 derailment again. I think it's one thing to see the site online or from the ground, but another to be riding on the same rails and taking things in from the rail passengers and crew's perspective.

We arrived at 30th Street Station one minute late at 3:22 p.m. I had about a half hour to kill so I walked into the Great Hall which is the waiting area for the Amtrak trains. The room is simply incredible with its high ceilings, large fixtures and everything else that gives it a character all its own. I was fixated on the arrival/departure board with its flipping numbers and letters. I then walked back to the parking garage to retrieve the car. The ticket machines in the lobby tell you to pay in advance so I put the ticket in and it said, "$25.00 due." Ouch! I grumbled to myself and paid the parking fee, justifying it by saying to myself, "Big city = big city prices." The railfan boards all lauded about the view of the tracks from the parking garage, and I concur it is a great spot to watch the action. But what they don't tell you is that it costs a lot to get the views! My guess is they all took the train into the station so they didn't have to pay. I headed back to the hotel, met back up with my wife and checked-in.

The view of the station yard from the parking lot is great. Just be prepared to pay the steep parking fare if you drive to it!

Friday 3/24/2017
Friday was the big day, one I had been looking forward to the most because it was the day of the trip on Amtrak to New York City. For some of you reading this, it may seem odd to you for me to get so excited about this trip. Afterall, it is a relatively short trip and a common one for people who live on the east coast. In addition, the train speeds are nothing like anything in Europe or Japan. However, when you live in a city with zero passenger train service of any kind, a trip like this will make you feel like you won the lottery.

According to my itinerary, once I got to New York City I would have about three hours to see the sights. My plan was to walk by Macy's at Harold Square (since I had seen it so many times on TV I had to see it in person), walk by Times Square and make my way over to Grand Central Station which was about a mile away. Then, depending on my time left, I would see a couple other things and return back to Penn Station. I had a map with everything highlighted so I would not have to fumble around and look too much like a tourist (except when taking photos). Since it was a Friday during Lent, my lunch had to be meatless so I would also be on the lookout for an authentic New York style bagel with schmear (yum!). I was ready to see The Big Apple!

Having learned my lesson the previous day about the outrageous parking rates at the station parking garage, I decided to walk from the hotel to the station which was just over a mile away. As I walked down Market Street westward, it became clear to me that I was underdressed for the sunny but blustery weather. A hooded sweatshirt or cap to cover my ears would have been real nice! So I turned my leisurely walk into somewhat of a power walk to the station. I arrived at 8:20 a.m. for my 8:50 a.m. departure. My train was Amtrak #600, one of the daily Keystone Service trains from Harrisburg, PA to New York City (Penn Station). The cool arrival/departure board showed my train as being "On Time" and departing from Track Six. A line had already started to form for the track stairs so I got in line.

Again I took in the scene around me. Scores of people walking through the station, some with rolling suitcases, others with just a laptop bag or backpack. There were families, couples and individuals. In my line a few people behind me was a family headed to Boston each with a rolling suitcase. To see this all taking place in a train station instead of an airport was all so foreign to me.

Around 8:35 a.m. or so, the equivalent of an airport "gate agent" turned on a wireless microphone and announced to everyone in the Great Hall that we would start boarding. At this point it was like boarding a plane, only much less formal and quicker. They did board "people needing extra time", business class and priority passengers first, but then the rest of us started filing by the agent. She checked our ticket to make sure we had the correct train then we walked down to the platform.

The train was already in place so we had our choice of any car except for business class unless we had paid for it. They also had a quiet car next to business class where they expected "library-like silence" in the car. I didn't necessarily need that so I boarded the closest car and found a window seat. All of the seats in my coach were facing the opposite direction of travel so it was either find another seat or deal with rolling backwards to NYC. I opted to stay in my seat and watch the world breeze by me in reverse. Regarding the seats themselves, for those of you reading this who have never been on Amtrak, the amount of space you get is almost comparable to first class on a plane. The seats recline much farther than in a plane, there is more leg room, more overhead space and there are 120V outlets in each row. And this is in the old Amfleet "tube" coaches. I've not been on a Superliner coach, but I've heard they are even better. Again, once you ride a train and experience the amount of space available you'll be hooked.

We departed on time at 8:50 a.m. with a scheduled arrival at 10:11 a.m. Again I had the GPS with me to monitor our speed along the route. Our route out of 30th Street station was a little different out of the station area itself but eventually we found our way to Track Two and began to pick up speed. It was immediately apparent that the ride of the coach was much smoother and cushiony than the SEPTA coaches. Think of the SEPTA coach as having the feel of a city bus and the Amtrak coach with a large tour bus feel. After passing the North Philadelphia station we approached Frankford Junction and again I noted our speed was pegged at 50 mph on the GPS. After we got out of the curve we immediately picked up speed and were well over 100 mph in a short amount of time with our top speed hitting 125 mph. Even at this speed things were very smooth and comfortable. Only when we rode over crossovers or other switch tracks did I note any bumpiness.

125 mph
This blurry photo with my old iPhone shows that we're coasting along at 124 mph!

The first stop for the train was at Trenton, NJ which is where I got off SEPTA the day before. We arrived on Track One on time at 9:19 a.m. So what took SEPTA 52 minutes to do, Amtrak did in 29 minutes, though Amtrak had no stops in between. Still the time difference illustrated the speed difference between the two. The doors opened to drop off/pick up passengers.

Then things got interesting.

After sitting in the station for a few minutes, the conductor got on the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen can I have your attention please. All traffic into Penn Station has been affected by a service interruption. We don't know how long the delay will be. You can either stay onboard and ride it out with us, or get off here and take NJ Transit to Newark, then take PATH into the city. We'll give you a few minutes to decide then we're moving up to Princeton Junction."

I literally had spent hours preparing for this trip into Penn Station, making considerations for short delays, weather, safety issues, etc. However the one thing I did not prepare for was how to get into the city should Amtrak not be able to get me there! To me, "service interruption" was railroad customer service speak for "derailment" which was not good.

I got off the train and listened to the conductor answer the seemingly endless questions from the passengers ranging from how long the delay would be, to which train goes from Newark to Penn Station, etc. To the conductor's credit he did his best to keep his cool and answer as many questions as he could. An off-duty Amtrak employee who was riding on the train and also answered questions, though he sounded more like a real railroader, "I've worked on the railroad for 35 years and these things happen. I can't tell you if we'll be a little late, a lot late or if we even be able to get into Penn Station. One of the tubes is blocked so now they have to run everything in and out of one tube. There are hundreds of trains a day in and out of the station so it may take a while. I'm a part of the train so I'm staying on." While we were there a NJ Transit train pulled up on Track Two (this track is outside the east platform and not one of the express tracks in the middle). "There's your train to Newark if you want to take it instead," announced the conductor.

On the station platform in Trenton, NJ. My train, Amtrak #600, is on the left. NJ Transit, my other option to reach NYC, is on the right. Myself, along with a lot of other riders, had to quickly figure out what to do.

At this point I had to make a decision and in short order. Do I a) stay on Amtrak and take a chance that I don't get to Penn Station by the time my return train departs (assuming I actually get there and the return train isn't canceled), b) get off and figure out how to get there via the NJ Transit/PATH route, or c) get off and take another train back to Philadelphia? My first thought was that this is the Northeast Corridor, this is New York City, they are New Yorkers and New Yorkers will figure out a way to get things moving again. But the cautious side kept coming back to being stuck on a train for hours, or not being able to get back to Philadelphia by the time I needed to be back at the hotel (which was 4 p.m.). Figuring out the NJ Transit/PATH option didn't sound appealing, plus that meant shelling out more money on top of what I had already spent.

The conductor at the head end began signaling to the rest of the crew that they were going to leave. The conductor on our coach announced that this was our last chance to get back on otherwise find alternate transportation. While my gut told me I would probably be OK to stay on, my cautious side won out and I stayed off and watched the train depart. My plans for the day had just gone out the window (or left the platform as was the case).

At this point I stayed on the platform and watched things develop. The NJ Transit train was still there and people who had gotten off were trying to figure out what to do. In the meantime, an Acela train arrived on Track Four and stopped at the station. This afforded me a chance to look a little more closely at the train's interior. It was neat to see business people dressed in suits and ties facing each other at a table with their laptops open getting work done. Immediately I thought to myself, "You can't do that on a plane!" After a few minutes the train departed. Not long after that a conductor for the NJ Transit train announced they were going to leave in a couple minutes. This prompted decisions by a few people to board the train in hopes of figuring out their route along the way. After it left I decided to visit the waiting area inside and figure out my options.

For a while I felt like a ship without a rudder and wandered aimlessly around the station, not knowing what to do next. I finally sat on one of the benches above the tracks and started searching on my phone for information about what had happened (at least the music in the station was still good!). A site reported that an Amtrak train derailed and side-swipped another train inside the station area. It did not give the magnitude of the derailment, though I figured if it was in the station itself it had to be a low speed event and not that bad. While doing searches about the issue, I found an Amtrak train tracker at which showed my train at Princeton Junction and stopped. It did show several trains ahead of it, some moving, some not moving. With nothing else to do, I decided to take advantage of the free WiFi and watch the train's progress. As it turned out, my gut was correct and my train got into Penn Station a little over an hour late, though the question of the return train's schedule had yet to be answered. Still, I was a little upset with myself for bailing off in Trenton. At least the music being piped into the station was decent to listen to.

At this point I needed to figure out how to get back to Philadelphia, so I first went to the Amtrak ticket counter and discussed my predicament with the agent. "You can't take another train with that ticket. I can give you a refund, though." Then I remembered I had picked the "Saver" fare option which was not transferrable, so essentially I ended my trip when I got off the train (unless I wanted to pay for a new ticket). My refund was about half the total cost of the ticket (even though I had only gone about 25% of the total distance) however I figured that wasn't too bad. Then went to the ticket kiosk and purchased a one way ticket on SEPTA back to Philadelphia for $9.

While waiting for my train I monitored the progress of the trains on the tracker and noted that everything kept moving into Penn Station but just at a slower pace. Delays of 30-60 minutes seemed to be the norm overall. Again, they are New Yorkers. They'll figure out how to get it done!

Eventually my return train arrived and I boarded the first car. At this point I was still a little upset and disappointed with the whole thing, playing "Monday morning quarterback" in my mind on what I could have done differently to help me come up with a more educated decision. Because of my mental state I didn't try for the "railfan seat" nor did I get the GPS out. I would just watch the world go by and try to get back to normal. This train set was noticeably older than the two SEPTA trains I rode yesterday. This train had flurorescent lights (yesterday's had LED lighting) and all of the station stops were announced by the conductor (yesterday's trains had a prerecorded message for each station).

I arrived back at 30th Street Station around 1 p.m., now about 90 minutes ahead of my original schedule due to the change of plans. So I consoled myself with an Aunt Annie's salted pretzel and a soda and sat in the Great Hall to take a load off my legs and mind. I once again took the opportunity to just simply observe the happenings and better appreciate the architecture of the room. It definitely looked like the Pennsylvania Railroad spared no expense building this structure! Up to this point I had been very bashful about taking photos due to the security concerns of the railroad police. The internet message boards all said that if you got your camera out you likely would get at least a friendly greeting from the railroad police, but that nothing more should come of it. After I saw a few people taking photos with their phone of the large statue at one end of the room, I finally got my camera out and took some photos. No one said anything to me.

30th street station
The Great Hall at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station is a sight to behold.
30th street station
This statue inside the station honors Pennsylvania Railroad employees who died in World War II.

I decided to head back to the hotel, thus ending the train portion of this trip. The temperature had warmed up nicely so now I actually felt a little overdressed. A block away from our hotel was the Reading Terminal Public Market, something I had read about online as a place to check out. I still had over an hour to kill so I stopped in. It was about 2:30 p.m. and the lunch crowd was just starting to file out but the place was still mobbed. Inside were rows and rows of vendors selling fresh foods, prepared foods, spices, wines, etc. For those in the Columbus, OH area reading this, take our North Market and multiply it by 20 and you have what this market is like, only busier. I enjoyed just walking around and seeing (and smelling) the varieties of vendors in the market. If you lived downtown you probably could do a fair amount of your food shopping here. It definitely seemed to be the place to be and was worth the side trip to check it out.

Reading Market
The Reading Terminal Public Market is an old train station converted to a bustling market.
Reading Market
A view down one of the aisles inside the Reading Terminal Public Market.

I still had some time to myself so I walked a couple blocks over to Macy's in the Wannamaker Building. This would be our destination this evening as we planned on listening to the 7 p.m. playing of the Wannamaker organ. I took a few minutes to walk around the store and get my bearings on where the organ, console and other information about the organ was located (a few photos are posted here). First, this is a very large store with three full floors of merchandise. It reminded me a little of what the old F&R Lazarus store looked like in downtown Columbus (only with fewer floors than Lazarus). The Grand Court sits in the center of the store and is the location of the pipe organ and a large statue of an eagle. The Grand Court itself is a sight to behold rising six or so stories high. Add to that the organ which has an illuminated golden facade and it makes for quite a site. I was looking forward to tonight's performance!

Macy's Wannamaker
The Wannamaker pipe organ at Macys in downtown Philadelphia takes up most of one side of the center area. Note the eagle on the floor.
Macys Wannamaker
Here's the view from the 2nd floor. The pipes in the facades are decorative only and do not speak. 
The organ console sits on the 2nd floor in the women's apparel department.

After a tasty dinner, my wife and I headed to Macy's for the 7 p.m. concert. We got there about 20 minutes early so while my wife did some window shopping, I went up to the 2nd floor which is where the organ console is located. There were several people on the organ platform who were asking the organist questions about the instrument. The console is huge and is taller than the organist's head when seated on the bench. I took a few photos of the occupied console then went back downstairs and waited for the concert to start. By this time a crowd of about 50 people had assembled on the floor waiting for the event.

The organist for tonight answered questions prior to the 7 p.m. performance. There is a lot to explain with this instrument!
A nice group of about 50 people, an eagle and a couple mannequins gathered on all three levels to listen to the 7 p.m. performance.
This photo hanges at the entrance to the Men's Department. The conical pipes in the photo are likely an English Horn organ pipe.
This plaque can be found in the Grand Court area. The organ was originally built in 1904 for the St. Louis World Fair.

Precisely at 7 p.m. the organist began to play a series of songs of varying types and styles. Each song seemed to be chosen so as to highlight a different part of the instrument. While the organist played, people continued to shop and the employees continued to do their jobs (I wondered if the employees were told during their interview of the "unique working conditions" they would have to endure should they land a job!). Overall I found the instrument's sound to be very nice and pleasing to the ear. I won't bore the non-organists reading this with a review (but should you want more information, check out The Columbus American Guild of Organists May 2017 newsletter which has my write up of the concert and organ), but I will suggest that if you are in the downtown Philadelphia area to check out this unique setting to hear a pipe organ. After the 35 minute concert we departed and got ourselves some ice cream.

Saturday March 25, 2017

Today I would explore the rest of downtown Philadelphia, this time going east from our hotel to the historic district. I had about four hours to burn so I figured it would give me enough time to at least walk to everything but probably not enough time to take any tours. After a quick breakfast with my wife I headed east on Market Street which led me to the visitor's center. I got there before their 8:30 a.m. open time, so I made it a point to come back. The Liberty Bell Center, one point of interest which does not cost anything nor do you need a ticket (because, of course, liberty is free) is directly across the street but it didn't open until 9 a.m. So I walked by Franklin's Grave, Betsy Ross' house and the U.S. Mint (unfortunately they weren't giving away any free samples).

Betsy Ross' House
Betsy Ross' house is just a few blocks away from Independence Hall.
Betsy Ross' House
Here is the courtyard for the Betsy Ross house museum.

Ben Franklin's Grave
The bust of Ben Franklin sits atop the wall of the cemetary where he is buried.
Betsy Ross' House
The U.S. Mint builing in Philadelphia probably cost a mint to build.

At the National Constitution Center, I got to see a group of scouts learn how to raise the American flag. Seeing the steps to properly raise the flag is a neat thing to watch. I then walked to Franklin Square and then back to the visitor's center.

Raising the flag
A person from the National Constitution Center taught the scouts how to raise the flag.
Raising the flag
A critical moment - making sure the flag does not  hit the ground or wrap around the pole.
Raising the flag
Success! The scouts then recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

By this time the visitor's center was open so I made a quick visit inside. Here you can buy tickets for events inside the center, as well as for the area attractions. The only thing I purchased was a bottle of water as I was quickly working up a thirst with all of my walking!
Visitor's center
The visitor's center had a number of small exhibits about the area's highlights, as well as a theater. This is a good place to start your visit to the historical part of the city.
Yo Adrian! This figure of Rocky was also in the visitor's center!

I then walked back to the Liberty Bell Center and stood in line to get in. After about a five minute wait to get through security (similar to airport security only no body scanners), I walked through the exhibit and then saw the famous Liberty Bell.

Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell Center has several displays within the building documenting the history of the flag and other related items.
Liberty Bell
Here is another view of one of the exhibits. Since it doesn't cost anything to enter, get there early to avoid long lines.

Liberty Bell
The famed Liberty Bell in all its glory. It actually is smaller than I though it would be.
Liberty Bell
Another view of the Liberty Bell with Independence Hall in the background.
Liberty Bell
A close up of the crack and some of the text. Even back then abbrevations were common.

From here I started a much larger loop first walking by Independence Hall, Indepencence Square and then over to Washington Square to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from Washington's Army.

Independence Hall
Independence Hall from the courtyard behind the building. The front had scaffolding which made for a less appealing photo.
Tomb of unknown soldier
This is a memorial tomb for unknown soldiers in Washington's Army.
In front of the statue is this tomb to commemorate those who fell in battle.

Around this area there are several interesting displays with thought-provoking quotes.

The National Museum of American Jewish History had a couple neat banners.
This is the other banner on the National Museum of American Jewish History.
With Independence Hall in the background, words we need to be reminded of!

Then I walked straight down Walnut Street and by the Independence Seaport Museum to check out the scene along the Delaware River. I'm not into ships, but it still was neat to see the variety of vessels in the water.

These ships are replicas (I think) of those from an earlier time period.
Contrast the modern freighter above to the mast ships on the left.

Still yet, compare the modern military warship to the old mast ships. We have progressed!
The large bridge over the Delaware River makes for a pretty scene at the shore.

At this point I had about two hours left and I wanted to see if I could get over to Logan Square and the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. I could have taken the subway but decided to walk instead. By this time there was a lot more foot traffic so I felt more comfortable in some of the areas which were maybe not the prettiest, but still had some interesting scenery.

Purely by chance I found one of the official gateways to Chinatown.
Apparently there was a martial arts competition in town, and this kid won a huge trophy!

Inside the very beautiful Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. 
Here's another view of the main aisle inside the basilica. 


Many cathedrals have this type of construction. This is Philadelphia, but it could be somewhere in Europe as well! 
The large pipe organ in the rear has over 4,600 pipes! Unfortunately it was not played while I was in the building.


I eventually accomplished my goals, and after taking a load off my feet for a few minutes in the Basilica, I walked around Logan Square and then began my walk back toward the hotel. I know by doing this whirlwind tour of downtown I was missing several points of interest along the way, but I figured that this time I simply wanted to familiarize myself with the area, and that at some point I would be back to take in more of the sights.

This sculpture is a monument to those who perished in the Holocaust.
This plaque explains the background behind the sculpture.

The PRR lives! Not only are the old PRR signals still alive, so is the old station building.
The art deco motif of this building cannot be denied in these photos.

Not far from our hotel were giant board game pieces.
Want to play chess, checkers, or maybe even Sorry?
When I play Monopoly, I almost always pick the wheelbarrow as my game piece.

Near the game pieces is this statue of Ben Franklin.

This sculpture is The Irish Memorial remembering those who lost their lives in the mid 1800s, as well as the immigrants who made it to America.
There is a lot going on with this sculpture, with people doing many different things or in different situations. It is quite elaborate.

I got back to the hotel with about 30 minutes to spare. I didn't have one of those step meters on me, but doing a rough entry of my walking on an online web page revealed that I walked almost six miles in a little over three hours! My feet were feeling it a little so I was glad to get back to the hotel. At this point I gathered our belongings, checked out of our room, and waited for my wife to complete her convention sessions for the day so that we could begin our trip back home.

Questions, comments welcome!

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