20 January 2009

Visiting Southeast Pennsylvania Part II

The last post ended with us getting out of the Independence Hall National Park. After that, it was almost lunch time, but we were not yet hungry, so we thought of visiting another site. So we decided to walk to the Athenaeum.

The Athenaeum is a special collections library. It is not big, but it is a library nonetheless. One can actually do research there. The building is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places, so we decided to visit it.

The shot above is taken in the staircase. Not the best shot, I agree, but it gives one an idea of the luxurious interior of this library.

The picture above depicts a small reading room, known as the Chess Room. The name is due to the large chessboard that can be seen in the right background. The pieces are not there anymore, but they would be larger than the standard chess pieces, if they were in proportion to the table.

This is a shot of the second floor gallery. One can see the original light fixtures, and the globe that is cracked at the bottom. The guide mentioned that the reason the globe was cracked at the bottom was because during the time in which that globe was widely used, people were all hyped about the Antarctic exploration, so they always tipped the globe upside-down. Due to all the tipping that was done, the globe eventually got damaged.

After that, we had lunch in a Mexican canteen. I refuse to call it a restaurant, since it was more like a cafeteria, but people seem to be walking in and out of it a lot, and sure enough, the food was great. After lunch, we walked westward, towards the city hall. We initially planned on touring the city hall of Philadelphia, but opted against it, because we entered another premise, whose guided tour was about to begin in a few minutes, and that was the Masonic Temple.

I cannot even begin where to start describing the interior lavishness of this building. First, let me show you the museum.

This is the interior of the museum. Technically, the whole building is a museum, but this is just the room that is officially designated as such. The tour guide for that time was also the curator of the museum, so he had a lot of insights that he passed on to us. In the tour, there was one other person who was obviously a member of the secret society, and his questions just made us feel more of an outsider.

The picture above depicts the Oriental room, styled after the Alhambra in Spain. One thing that strikes me in this building is the multitudes of light bulbs. I simply cannot imagine what the cost of the upkeep of this building is.

The one above is the room of the Knights Templar. The interior design is rather spartan compared to the other rooms.

The Egyptian room is depicted above, with the fake hieroglyphs. It does not mean anything in Classical Egyptian. Look at the gaudy wall paintings.

I believe this is the Corinthian room, if I am not mistaken. One can see plenty of references to the ancient Greek culture, including the Caryatids of the Erechtheion. Again, plenty of light bulbs.

So this concluded January 9. On my next post, I will show pictures of our drive to Doylestown, where we visited concrete castles and a weird museum. Plus, I might also show pictures reminiscent of Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep.

Stay tuned.


  1. Wow...that is an amazing building... fantastic architecture...

  2. Sidney,

    Indeed it is! The interior is simply out of this world.