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Visual Evidence

Photo 1: Independence Hall, north facade.[Photo 1] with link to larger version.
(Photo by Robin Miller. Courtesy Independence National Historical Park)

Photo 2: Independence Hall, south facade.[Photo 2] with link to larger version.
(Photo by Robin Miller. Courtesy Independence National Historical Park)

At the time of its construction in the 1730s, the Pennsylvania State House was the largest public building in Philadelphia. The five-part plan includes a 105-foot long main block, two covered arcades, and two 50-foot long wing buildings at the end of the arcades. Andrew Hamilton, Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly and chairman of the building committee, designed the building in the Georgian style of architecture. Characterized by its sense of proportion, balance, and symmetry, Georgian architecture was popular in Great Britain and the American colonies during the reigns of George I, II, and III (1714-1820).

The front or north facade of Independence Hall features elegant details such as marble panels between the first and second floors, marble keystones above each window, a carved wooden cornice, and a wooden balustrade stretching between the chimneys on the roof. The rear or south facade is more simply decorated. The tower consists of a wooden steeple set on top of a three-story brick base.

Questions for Photos 1 and 2

1. How would you describe Independence Hall? What elements do you think demonstrate the balance and symmetry characteristic of Georgian architecture?

2. Locate the arcades in Photo 1 and one of the wing buildings in Photo 2. Based on Reading 2, what were these originally designed for? When and why were they torn down? When and why were they rebuilt?

3. Do you think preservation of Independence Hall has enhanced its value as a symbol of freedom? Why or why not?

* The small images on this screen will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Photo 1 and Photo 2, but be aware that the files will take as much as 57 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.

 

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