May 9 - 11, 2008 - Philadelphia
Exterior and Statue
Independence Hall started out as the seat of government of the State of Pennsylvania. The state donated it's use to the Continental Congress, and later to the United States Government until about 1800.
Independence Hall
The Federal Government has set up a little park encompassing Independence Hall and the Visitors Center across the street. The Liberty Bell is in the Visitors Center, although I sort of remember it being in the portico at the side of Independence Hall when I visited as a youngster. You can see that Independence Hall is dwarfed by the buildings behind it... a little disappointing, but I guess that's progress.

George Washington's statue stands in front of the hall. In the second row at the far right, George seems to be looking at Meg... "Who's that white-haired lady down there?". I asked George to pose like he does for real photographers when they take pictures for magazines and such. I thought the coolest shot was the immigrant Indian family gathering around his statue for a picture.

There are annex buildings on either side of Independence Hall. One of them once housed the US Congress and the other was for the US Supreme court... more on that later

Since this was set up for the Pennsylvania State Government, one half of the hall was built for the state supreme court. You can see where the justices sat at the top, and the iron barred box for the defendant.
This room is where the State Legislature gathered. It was also used by the Continental Congress. It is the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Independence Hall is part of the National Park system, so tours are given by Park Rangers. We actually went for two tours and got to see all of this twice... but that's another story.

Congressional Annex - First Floor - House of Representatives
The first floor of the Annex (to the right of Independence Hall) housed the U.S. house of representatives from 1789 to 1800.
Congressional Annex - Second Floor - Senate
The second floor of the Congressional Annex held the US Senate in the same time period. There were fewer senators, and they got more posh digs.

I tried to get a good shot of the eagle on the ceiling. You can see that it has 15 stars, so two more states were admitted before this room was abandoned.

There was no gallery at first, but the staircase at lower right was added later so the senate proceedings would be open for public viewing.

Congressional Annex - Offices
There were quite a number of offices which housed pretty much the rest of the legislative branch of the US government. I don't remeber who the portraits were, but the hottie in the center makes me think she might have been the first office "pin-up girl".
Judicial Annex
The Judicial Branch, the US Supreme Court, was housed in the Annex on the other side of Independence Hall. It kinda looks like an old courtroom, except they don't have a defendant's box. That's because they only allow lawyers in... and they have to know the secret handshake.