Founded by William Penn in 1682, Philly, as it’s affectionately known, is steeped in US history and is the home of many “firsts.” Philly hosted the First Continental Congress of 1774; it also had the first hospital, the first stock exchange, the first zoo, the first university–the list goes on. It was also the first capital of the United States during colonial times. With so much history tied into our national identity, a walk along Philly’s narrow streets and a trip through one of its many museums could fill a vacation. But there’s so much to Philadelphia besides its past. Besides its thriving science and financial sectors, Philly is home to the arts and has a nightlife all its own.
Washington Square: Not only is Washington Square a beautifully manicured park; it’s also a giant burial ground. Established in 1682 as a potter's field for both the indigent and citizenry, it was soon used for casualties of the Revolutionary War. In 1793, the cemetery was again put to use due to the outbreak of yellow fever. The most commonly reported spector in the park is that of Leah, a woman who once patrolled the grounds to dissuade grave robbers from their prowlings.
Eastern State Penitentary: Any good ghost hunter has heard of the infamous Eastern State Penitentary. Now a preserved building, the Pen is open for tours and investigations by those who are strong of heart and chomping at the bit to explore a real haunted building. There have been numerous sightings of guards in the towers, spectors in the jail cells, footsteps, taps on the shoulder, icy cold dread–you name it! You don’t want to miss your chance to experience the thrills and chills of Eastern State.
Betsy Ross House: This tiny historic house packs a ghostly wallop within its walls. Remembered most famously as the seamstress of the first flag, Betsy Ross had a hard life of tragic losses. It’s said her ghost has been seen inside the home’s basement, sometimes crying or moaning softly. Disembodied voices and laughter–perhaps froma happier time–have also been reported.
Cliveden: Also known as the Benjamin Chew House, Cliveden was the site of the bloody battle of Germantown in 1777. Some seventy soldiers lost their lives on its grounds during the battle and are said to haunt the property today. A headless woman has been reported walking the gardens of this 1760 Georgian home and footsteps are heard echoing down its empty hallways. Tours are available.
Powel House: The historic, three-story Georgian Colonial townhouse is today a museum, furnished in the style of the late 1700s. It was built in 1765 and bought by Powel in 1769, who was the city’s mayor. Powel was among the most powerful figures of his time and the hauntings are thought to be those who would come and go as his guest. Benedict Arnold, George Washington–a Revolutionary War list of who’s who.
The Best Ghost Tours in Philadelphia
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