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Carolyn Scott: Philadelphia a city rich in history

With July 4th popping up soon as a backdrop, I'll tell you about our recent trip to Philadelphia.

When I was growing up in central Jersey, Philadelphia was where we went to "the city." It was just an hour away, and many school field trips were made to the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross House.

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The Franklin Institute was also an oft visited site. It had a planetarium, a steam engine cab we could climb on and a gigantic model of the heart. We could walk though the heart, following the path our blood flows.

We also visited Valley Forge, Delaware Crossing State Park and the Hessian Barracks in Trenton.

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I am fortunate to again be living in a history-rich area just a short driving distance away. From Philadelphia to Baltimore to Washington and back up to Gettysburg, the summer could be spent exploring our past.

So we began our history summer where so much of it was made. The friend who was meeting us for lunch suggested the Old City Tavern where the food was authentic Colonial fare.

The recipes were supposedly from Martha Washington's cookbook and were described on the menu. I began with a "sweet vinegar shrub." It sounds strange but was very refreshing.

When I saw "tofu" on the menu, I thought they were bowing to more contemporary tastes. But the description of the dish said that Ben Franklin had sent a recipe for it from France. Everything old is new again.

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This old tavern is adjacent to Constitution Hall where the signers of the Declaration hammered out the details of this vital document. When they tired of hammering they would adjourn to the tavern and quaff a few ales.

Next stop was Constitution Hall, where the chairs and tables used by those great men still stand behind ropes.

I'm sure they took great care in the construction of this document, as well as with the ones to follow, because they understood human nature. They knew their words would be inspected and dissected for years to come.

From there we took a horse-drawn carriage ride through the beautifully restored historic area. The guide was very good, pointing out the homes where various historical figures had lived and the prices they were selling for these days.

He also explained that the houses with certain markings on them indicated that the homeowner had paid for fire service. If an unmarked house caught fire, the fire company would not respond to the call.

From Colonial fare to contemporary cuisine - we went that night to a Mori Moto restaurant. Not being a food channel fan, I had never heard of this chain of restaurants, but friends we were with said it got rave reviews - from people who eat raw fish. They all enjoyed it and I found something cooked.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, you can't leave Philadelphia without experiencing an authentic Philly cheese-steak. After inquiring at our hotel, we were directed to Jimmy's. The line of hungry people out the door and around the block attested to its popularity.

The line moved quickly and you could see your order being cooked right in front of you, beef, onions, peppers, cheese whiz and all. No sushi here. We even found a place to sit down upstairs.

The juice and cheese running down your arms are proof you've had the real thing.

Be sure to take advantage of the many opportunities we have to learn more about those who have cleared the way for us.

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