SUMR15 Bus Tour of Philadelphia

SUMR Blog

SUMR15 Bus Tour of Philadelphia

An Afternoon of Group Bonding and Historic Sightseeing
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[Click image for larger] Twenty-two members of Penn's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics' Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) program and the Wharton School's Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) piled into a open-topped bus to tour some of Philadelphia's most important cultural sites.
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[Click images for larger] The day began with an introduction to the joys of Philadelphia's subterranean transportation system. The group was whisked by subway from a Penn campus SEPTA station to the center of the oldest part of the City where they boarded the tour bus. Roaming from those shores of the Delaware River in the east to the Schuylkill River in West Philadelphia, the Big Bus trip provided a rich sense of the 333-year-old city's history. Above, right, bus riders view a one-ton bronze bust of Benjamin Franklin covered with keys collected by local school students.
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Philadlelphia's ethic diversity is nowhere more visually apparent than in the thriving Chinatown district. Above, left, the Big Bus tour guide points out the four-story high "Friendship Arch," celebrating the cultural connections between Philadephia and the City of Tianjin in northern China. The arch was built in the early 1980s by Chinese artisans using ancient techniques and materials. Above, right, the bus cruises "museum row" along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the center of the city. The Rodin museum that celebrates the Sculptures of French sculptor Auguste Rodin has the largest collection of his work outside of Paris.
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Above, left, bus travelers pass the forboding facade of Eastern State Penniteniary built in 1829 and closed in 1971. Perhaps the city's most unique tourist attraction, the prison's crumbling castlesque interior is now open year-round for tours and is a favorite of local photographers. Above, right, the tour offered a 360-degree view of the baroque architecture of City Hall topped by the 37-foot-high statue of Philadelphia founder William Penn. Built in the wildly busy Second Empire style popular in the late 1800s, the building's every cranny is festooned with sculptures and rococo decorations.
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After arriving at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (above, left), SUMR and SPUR scholars gather at "Social Consciousness," a massive Jacob Epstein sculpture overlooking the west entrance of the museum that sits astride the Schuylkill River on Philadephia's highest point of land. Inside (above, right), SUMR and SPUR scholars line up for tickets for what is one of the country's largest art museums.
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The museum's collections span a period from the rise of the earliest civilizations to the present and the architecturally spectacular building they are housed in (above, left) is often called the "Parthenon" by locals. Above, right, looming over the central marble staircase, is the "Diana, Roman Goddess of the Hunt" a 13-foot, gold-leafed sculpture by August Saint-Gaudens.
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Spending some time with European arts of the 17th century (above, left) are SUMR Scholars (l to r) Anuvrat Jha, of Ohio State University and Enrique Torres Hernandez, of St. Mary's University. Above, right, centered around a German Duke's horse armour made in 1507, is a section of the museum's medieval arms and armour galleries.
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The broad plateau of stone, sculpture and fountains at the eastern end of the museum (above, left) looks out over the famed "Rocky" staircase and a panoramic view of the Parkway and City Hall beyond. It is a favorite place for wedding photographs and this bridal entourage (above, right) was hard at work as the SUMR tour passed through.
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Sharing a laugh together on their way to the Rocky statue (above, left) are (l to r) SUMR Program Director Joanne Levy and Wharton SPUR scholars John Han and Elliot Oblander, both of Penn. Gathered for their official group portrait are the SUMR and SPUR group members obviously feeling the "Rockyness" of it all.
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Pizzeria Stella in the heart of the Head House Square area of Philadelphia's trendy "Old City" gets rave reviews (and 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor). It sits directly across from the historic "New Market," an 18th century open area market popular for its many events today.
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Returning to the city's eastern edge on the bus, the group disembarked at the Stella restaurant famed for its picturesque wood-fired oven, simple menu and an ambiance that, as SUMR and SPUR Scholars experienced, makes visitors want to hang out and enjoy each other's company.