Where to Get Your Hamilton Fix in Philly
The hit musical’s coming to town, but you’re gonna have to wait for it, wait for it, wait for it.
Hamilton comes to the Forrest Theater later this month, but if you can’t wait that long (or you’re still trolling StubHub hoping for a miracle), there are plenty of ways to fill the time and learn more about our Ten Dollar Founding Father right here in Philly, so look around, look around!
525 Arch St.
Now through December 31, NCC’s special exhibit “Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation” tells Hamilton’s story through his contentious relationships and ideological debates that contributed so enduringly to our political systems. Just call the Constitution Center’s Annenberg Gallery “The Room Where it Happens” for the rest of the year, because this is where all the artifacts detailing Hamilton’s vitriolic conflicts and eventual downfall can be found. The exhibit is arranged by contrasting his constitutional vision with his legendary rivals James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Aaron Burr, in that order. Each conflict has its own section in the exhibit, with artifacts ranging from original letters between the foes to original documents like The Reynolds Pamphlet (“have you read this?”), and items like Hamilton’s portable writing desk (he really did write like he was running out of time).
Visit the dueling grounds with the original written rules of the duel between Hamilton and Burr and replicas of their dueling pistols. Guests can learn step-by-step instructions for a duel, and even walk the 10 paces — clearly indicated with footsteps of the opponents— to experience just how close and intense that fateful morning in Weehawken felt.
And the Hamilton Experience does not end in the exhibit. You can “meet” Hamilton through his life-size statue in Signers’ Hall upstairs, and learn all about the Constitution (and Hamilton’s role in its creation) in the “We the People” exhibit.
101 S. Third St.
This museum tells the story of the birth of our nation, with an incredible mix of 18th century history and 21st century technology. Go ahead, walk through the galleries shouting the libretto from the top of your lungs (or, maybe don’t…but it will be hard to resist not going serious and declaring “The Battle of Yorktown: 1781” when you walk through that gallery’s door). And if your kids want to get hands-on, head downstairs to the Revolutionary Place discovery center. This permanent exhibit gives kids an immersive look at what life was like in 18th Century Philadelphia, from the military camp to the homefront. Dress like a Continental Soldier, discuss issues of the day in the tavern, and much more.
36 N. Third St
If you know your history (or just have “The Cabinet Battle” memorized), you know that Hamilton and Jefferson really came to blows about this! The Bank of the United States was a controversial idea by our nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury, and it’s located right by the Museum of the American Revolution! While the building is currently closed to visitors, you can still take photos outside. Stay tuned, though, there are plans to re-open it to the public and make it a museum in future years!
Chestnut Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets
Today, this historic building houses a permanent collection of over 150 portraits of 18th and 19th century political leaders, military officers, explorers, and scientists. Now through September 2, go on a free 30-minute Alexander Hamilton tour at 2:30 pm to learn about Hamilton’s revolutionary activities in Philadelphia.
520 Chestnut St.
In 1787, Hamilton made yet another mark on American history as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention (“Talks for six hours, the convention is listless!”) representing New York and arguing for his vision of a government by, for, and of the people. Admission is free, but tickets are required, and visits are by tour only. Tickets are free, and are required March through December; no tickets are required after 5 pm during summer hours.
151 N. Independence Mall East
Another part of Hamilton’s economic plan, you can take free, self-guided tours of the U.S. Mint and even watch currency being made! The tour also includes a video describing Hamilton’s role in creating the Mint.
138 S. Second St.
This Old City dining spot is a recreation of the original tavern where Hamilton and his contemporaries raised a glass to freedom. Waiters in period clothing and a Colonial-inspired menu with items enhance the experience, and grownups can drink “Ales of the Revolution” like Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Ale.
Outside the City
1400 N. Outer Line Dr., King of Prussia
While not authentically as cold and miserable as Hamilton experienced it (he had never seen the General so despondent!), this site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army is a must-see. Hike the trails, tour the encampment and reconstructed soldier cabins, hear tales of the revolution from expert storytellers, and more. Kids can even stop by on the first Saturday of the month to become “Junior Rangers.”
1685 Art School Rd., Chester Springs
Historic Yellow Springs is hosting an exhibition based on the life of Hamilton, available to the public free of charge through September 7 (closed on weekends).
Photographs by Laura Swartz.