The Philadelphia Mint Has Existed Since 1792

But, ironically, the Philadelphia Mint - which has the capacity to strike 32 million coins a day - is a free place to visit. The largest mint in the world, it is located in the heart of Old City, you can easily combine a trip to the Mint, with a visit to the National Constitution Center, which is literally across the street.

Nationally, there are currently four U.S. mints - Philadelphia; West Point, NY; Denver; and San Francisco. However, the ones in Philadelphia and San Francisco are the only two, that are open to the public, for visits and tours.

This page is still under construction, so please be patient, and check back for more content.

Getting to the Philadelphia Mint

You can easily get to the Philadelphia Mint, via SEPTA. You can take the Market-Frankford Line/Blue Line/el to the 5th Street Station, which takes you to 5th and Market Streets. Just walk one block north on 5th, to 5th and Arch, and you're right there.

If you are coming from the city outskirts or from the suburbs or out of town, SEPTA Regional Rail is likely your best bet. Nearly all inbound Regional Rail trains stop at Market East Station, which is located at the intersection of 11th and Market Streets. After you leave Market East, just walk six blocks east on Market, till you reach 5th and Market. Turn left onto 5th, and walk one block north to the destination.

Philadelphia Mint - Hours of Operation

Summer Hours, 2010

Monday through Saturday - 9 AM to 4:30 PM, from May 22, 2010 - Labor Day.

Closed Sundays and holidays - with a key exception:

It will be open all three days of Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day weekends.

The free, self-guided tour takes about 45 minutes, officially, but you really should allow far more time, than that. In addition, unlike other Philadelphia attractions, adults are asked to bring government-issued identification (i.e., a driver's license) to show when they arrive.

A History of the Philadelphia Mint

This History section is still under construction, but here's what we have for right now...

1787 - The new Constitution is approved at Independence Hall, after months of wrangling, and is eventually ratified.

1790 - The capital of the new nation is temporarily shifted from New York to Philadelphia, where it will remain for a decade, before shifting to the new "Federal City" on the Potomac - Washington, DC.

Fall 1792 - The Philadelphia Mint is completed. It is the first building, whose construction is authorized by the new federal government. It is constructed just two blocks from its present location.

It is anticipated - logically enough - that when the political capital shifts to the Potomac, that the U.S. Mint will follow suit.

The first coins at the new Mint are struck from the personal household silver of President George Washington, as a symbolic gesture. Washington donated the silver, to indicate his deep support for the success of the Mint - and by implication, the rest of the new national government established just five years earlier.

A painting of George and Martha inspecting the first coins, by John Dunsmore, can be seen at the Mint.

David Rittenhouse - a prominent early American who wore many hats - and whose name now graces - Rittenhouse Square, the former Southwest Square - on the other side of Broad Street, is the first director of the Philadelphia Mint, a position he holds for three years.

1800 - As agreed upon a decade earlier, the capital shifts from Philadelphia to Washington. However, the U.S. Mint remains behind. Why?

The new federal government couldn't afford to build a new Mint, on top of all the other construction needed on the Potomac, and the current Mint was profitable. So, it stayed in Philadelphia.

1828 - A generation after the shift of capital cities, Congress formally determines by legislation, that the U.S. Mint will remain permanently in Philadelphia.

1833 - The second Philadelphia Mint is completed, which is located on Broad Street, several blocks west of the first Mint. The new Mint was necessary, as the dynamic American economy - expanding over vast new territories and booming in population - needs more coinage to support trade, finance, and commerce. So a more modern Mint was authorized, and duly opened.

1901 - The third Philadelphia Mint is constructed, also on Broad Street. It has a neoclassical architecture, which you can still visit, as the Community College of Philadelphia now occupies the building.

1969 - Due to a variety of historical forces, a new Mint is once more necessary. Perhaps the most significant is the remarkable leap in technology, which rendered the old turn-of-the-century Mint inefficient.

In the interim seven decades, as well, the interstate federal highway system has been constructed, and there was a desire for the Mint to relocate to a point closer to a highway. (The Vine Street Expressway, also a federal highway - I-676, was not constructed, until the late 1980s.) And in the midst of the Cold War against the Soviet Union, there were increased security concerns. So the fourth - and current - Philadelphia mint opened at its present location.

"Money In Motion" Exhibit at the Federal Reserve, Across the Street

An often-overlooked, but fascinating exhibit, is located directly across the street from the Philadelphia Mint - at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve.

While its tour is far more limited than the Mint's, it's a free place to visit, as well. The exhibit was launched in July 2003, but it is almost completely unknown to visitors, overshadowed by the Mint across the street.

And Money in Motion offers, among other things:

- an intriguing history of the nation's banking system;

- a look back at when Philadelphia was the nation's capital;

- a rich assortment of historical coins and interpretations;

- and a chance to play a lot of fun, interactive games to test your knowledge of the U.S. banking system in general, and the Federal Reserve in particular.

Among the interactive exhibits is a long, in-depth look at 20th century history, and how the Federal Reserve's actions helped shape it. Every decade from the 1950s through the 1990s is included, and all members of your party will enjoy the nostalgia of seeing the key events and celebrities from each decade, along with the more dry economic indicator charts.

However, our personal favorite was the coin collections mounted on several panels. You can read all about currency - both paper notes and coins - beginning from the first European settlements in American, through the present day. There are authentic coins from each century, from the early 17th to the 20th.

Perhaps the most memorable coin is an 18th-century one with a sundial on it, with the Latin word fugio, meaning "I fly" - telling you that time flies...

Of the paper notes, perhaps the most stunning is a $100,000 bill with a picture of the early-20th century President Woodrow Wilson, which only circulates among banks for large cash transactions...

Also, you'll receive - for free - a great souvenir, namely a bag of officially shredded U.S. currency - the average lifespan of a dollar bill is less than two years.

Hours of Operation - March through December 2010

Monday through Friday, 9:30 PM to 4:30 PM. Closed Memorial Day.

Don't miss it...

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