Friday, October 21, 2011

Washington Square & Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Views within Washington Square.
(photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
Just across the southwest corner of Independence Hall is Washington Square Park wherein is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Managed by the National Park Service it is another attraction in the Independence National Historical Park.

Learning about the history of this 6.5 acres of land, the square is more of a memorial park. The square was used to bury the poor and used by the African American community to bury their members in the 18th century. Citizens and troops from the Colonial army who perished in the Revolutionary War are also buried here. Victims of the city's yellow fever outbreak after the Revolutionary War were interred here.

The 19th century brought about improvements. Walks, benches, lamps and an ornamental fence were added to the park as an affluent and fashionable neighborhood moved in around it. Originally called Southeast Square, the park was renamed in tribute to George Washington. Today the centerpiece of the square is a memorial to Washington and unknown soldiers of the American Revolution.

The shaded park is quiet this Friday morning fitting its solemn past. But in warmer months the park is probably bustling with residents and visitors enjoying its open spaces.

Located near the northeast entrance is Philadelphia's Moon Tree. The seed of a sycamore tree was carried on one of the Apollo missions and planted in 1975. Since taking ownership of the park from the City of Philadelphia, the NPS has cared for the tree. There are now plans to replace the ailing tree with a clone grown by the University of Pennsylvania.

Visit for more information about Washington Square Park and the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and memorial statue of George Washington. 
State and colonial flags lead to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.
Plaque at Moon Tree.
(photo: wallyg/flickr)


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