Second Bank of the United States
420 Chestnut St., 215/965-2305
HOURS: Wed.–Sun. 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
Designed by William Strickland and built 1819–1824, the Second Bank of the United States is considered one of the finest examples of Greek revival architecture in the United States. Modeled on the Parthenon, the building served as a model for countless other U.S. financial institutions.
The bank was chartered in 1816 during a time of massive currency fluctuations to provide credit for government and businesses—think of the Fed today. In 1832, President Andrew Jackson vetoed a bill to recharter the Bank because he feared it was creating an unconstitutional monopoly.
While it has evolved greatly over the years, the banking system of today operates under many of the same structures and ideas.
Today, the building is owned by the National Park Service and houses the portrait gallery “People of Independence.” Eighty-five of the portraits were painted by Charles Wilson Peale (1741–1827), the most famous portraitist of the 18th century. The 185 paintings of colonial and federal leaders, scientists, explorers, and officers include George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Mifflin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Morris, and the Marquis de Lafayette.
If you’ve ever wondered what the Founding Fathers looked like, this is a good place to find out.
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition