Franklin Court - the Home of Benjamin Franklin - Is Fascinating and Highly Memorable
Center City District Location - RED - Historic District - Old City
So let's read more about Franklin Court - this hidden glimpse into the life and times of
Old City Philadelphia
We believe that this museum is the most underrated attraction, in historic Philadelphia.
Despite being located at 318 Market Street (Market between 3rd and 4th Streets) in the heart of the most historic square mile in the United States, it is often overlooked by visitors and guides.
This fact is even more surprising, when one considers that Franklin Court is-
located in the heart of Old City,
does not require timed tickets for entry,
and is a highly rewarding place to visit- for those of all ages.
One reason for its being overlooked, might be the fact that much of Franklin Court is subterranean. Although, during the extreme heat and humidity of a Philadelphia summer, its underground location, plus air conditioning, makes it a welcome respite.
Another might be that with all of the high profile things to do in that area -
National Constitution Center,
Betsy Ross House,
- that Franklin Court simply gets forgotten.
But that fact benefits you - since you'll know about it. So let's learn more...
Franklin Court takes up an entire square block - the 300 block of Market and Chestnut Streets (i.e., between 3rd and 4th Streets)...
We think highly enough of Franklin Court, in fact, that we include it, in our
One Day Tour of Philadelphia.
That is high praise indeed, in a city as steeped in history and culture, as Philadelphia...
So let's go in depth on Franklin and his legacy...
Ironically, given that he is the greatest Philadelphian who has ever lived, before or since -
Franklin wasn't even from Philadelphia, originally.
Instead, he was born in Massachusetts, and grew up there, learning the printing trade from his brother. He ran away to Philadelphia, seeking a better life for himself - and as we all know, it worked out extremely well.
He was the first American celebrity, among other things. It is surprising that even had the Revolutionary War never taken place, Franklin would have been well remembered, for the success of his Philadelphia printing business (Poor Richard's Almanack, among other publications) as well as his pioneering innovations in science.
To choose just the best-known example, Franklin's famous kite experiment made him well-known throughout the Atlantic world, leading to a better understanding of electricity and other natural phenomena.
Franklin was (at minimum) a generation older, than the other luminaries of the Revolutionary War, and so for that reason, he had a great deal more to lose.
Unlike them, Franklin was already famous, had a glorious reputation, and had already well exceeded life expectancy for an 18th-century man.
Naturally, Franklin had never anticipated that he would spend his golden years, involved in a long and wearisome political conflict with Great Britain, over how and whether the colonies should be governed.
Moreover, Franklin did not spend his entire (and very long) life in Philadelphia - or even America - as an adult. He spent long stretches in Europe.
At the time, in the Age of Sail, travel back and forth to Europe took weeks, even months, as opposed to the hours it takes today. So there were entire years in which he did not see his home, or his family or friends, in Philadelphia.
Initially, Franklin was a lobbyist (although that term had not yet been coined) for the colony of Pennsylvania in London, prior to the Revolutionary War.
While in London, Franklin eventually grew disgusted with the British treatment of the colonies. Great Britain generally viewed the colonists, many of whom were not from the British Isles, as second-class members of the Empire.
This was difficult for Franklin, as he had grown very comfortable in Britain, and considered himself as British as anyone. But he eventually recognized that King George III and Parliament would never view the colonies, as anything remotely resembling equals.
After he returned to Pennsylvania, he was elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress. He served, among other capacities, as one of the five members of the Committee, which composed the
Declaration of Independence
- throughout the summer of 1776.
Franklin, along with 54 other wealthy and prominent risk-takers, took the ultrahazardous step of signing the Declaration, on July 4, 1776. (Had the Americans lost the Revolutionary War, all would have been executed for treason, as traitors, and all of their considerable property forfeited to the British government.)
Several months after the Declaration, Franklin sailed to France, in order to lobby King Louis XVI and his government for an alliance, military supplies, money, soldiers and a fleet in order to overthrow British rule.
(Ironically, one of Franklin's unintentional legacies was the French Revolution. The French support for the American cause eventually embroiled France in a world war with Britain, triggering financial difficulties, that served as the catalyst for the overthrow of the French monarchy.)
After he helped to negotiate the Treaty of Paris ending the war with Britain and formalizing American independence, Franklin returned to Philadelphia, to help formulate the U.S. Constitution - at age 81.
At the "Federal Convention", as the Constitutional Convention was known at the time, Franklin's august presence, along with George Washington, helped to stabilize the negotiations, and he played a key role in hammering out the many compromises that entered the final document.
Three years after the promulgation of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, Franklin finally died, at age 83. But he had left behind an incredible legacy, not just for Philadelphia, but the United States of America - and the entire world.
Visiting Franklin Court, is the best way of introducing Franklin's extraordinary odyssey over two continents, during the 18th century, whose history he did so much to shape.
For the most up-to-date, detailed information on visiting Franklin Court, it's best to check out the page dedicated to Franklin Court on the
official Independence National Historic Park site.
You can refer to the Philadelphia One Day Tour for more content
- on the highlights of Franklin Court.
A Map of Franklin Court and the Surrounding Area, For Your Convenience
View Franklin Court - An Underground Museum in a larger map
Franklin Court is at the location of the green teardrop, in the map above - on Market, between 3rd and 4th Streets in Old City.
If you'd like to leave Franklin Court, and return to the home page of Enjoying Philadelphia, click here.