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2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia

Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2016
Another Political Convention is coming to Philadelphia!

The History

When Philadelphia became the Capital of the United States in 1790, there were no political conventions. George Washington, who served as President of the United States from 1790-1797 (in Philadelphia), was not affiliated with any political party. But the second president to live in Philadelphia, John Adams, was a Federalist and every president since has been affiliated with a political party, causing political conventions to become one of the most important aspects of our presidential elections.  As America's Birthplace, Philadelphia has certainly held its fair share of political conventions over the years.
Music Fund Hall - Home of the First Republican Convention in 1856
The first political convention in Philadelphia was the 1848 Whig National Convention. That year the Whigs would select Mexican-American War hero Zachary Taylor as their nominee, who would go on to become the 12th President of the United States. Soon after that convention, one of the most important political conventions that Philadelphia would ever host would come to town in 1856. That 1856 convention was the very first Republican Convention, held in Philadelphia at Music Fund Hall.  The Republican Party was created just a year earlier with the simple platform of ending slavery in United States. While their nominee that they selected in Philadelphia, John C. Freemont, would go on to lose the 1856 Presidential election to James Buchanan, the convention was not a total loss.  One of the rising stars of the new Republican Party was a young Abraham Lincoln who came in second place in the nominating process for the position of Vice President; narrowly beaten out by William L. Dayton. Lincoln would of course soon rise to become the leader of the Republican Party, becoming their first President in 1861 and serving during the turbulent time period of America’s Civil War.
In 1872, the Republican Convention returned to Philadelphia, this time meeting at the Academy of Music. At the 1872 Republican Convention, the Republicans would nominate a candidate unanimously for the first time ever, as President and Civil War Hero Ulysses S. Grant was nominated for a second term. Half a century later, in 1936 the Democratic National Convention came to town for the first time, meeting at the former Philadelphia Civic Center. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was unanimously selected to run for a second term of office. Roosevelt would celebrate his nomination with a rousing speech at the University of Pennsylvania’s historic Franklin Field.
Academy of Music - Home of the 1872 Republican Convention
The most important year for political conventions in Philadelphia is clearly 1948. In 1948, Philadelphia was home to three different national political conventions!  Both the Democratic and Republican conventions were held at the Philadelphia Civic Center just weeks apart from one another. But Philadelphia would also host the convention of the Progressive Party in 1948.  The new Progressive Party emerged as a more left wing alternative to current president Harry S. Truman and would nominate former FDR Vice President Henry A. Wallace at Shibe Park, former home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Wallace would go up against Republican Nominee Thomas E. Dewey and Truman, who would go on to win reelection.
In 2016, Philadelphia was home to another historic convention as the Democratic National Convention from July 25-28, 2016.

What to See

The 2016 Democratic National Convention will take place at two primary locations in Philadelphia. The Wells Fargo Center, a sports arena where the Philadelphia Flyers and Sixers play. The Wells Fargo center is located at the southern edge of Philadelphia in the Philadelphia Sports Complex. The other primary location of the convention will be the Pennsylvania Convention Center, which is located right in the heart of Center City Philadelphia.
For all the big speeches and events, you’ll want to head toward the Well Fargo Center.  With a capacity of over 20,000 people, the Wells Fargo Center will be the location of all of the big spectacles of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. The events at the Wells Fargo Center are however only open to credentialed guests and delegates and will not be open to the general public.
Don’t worry though; even if you’re not a delegate there is still plenty to do during the 2016 DNC in Philadelphia. At the Pennsylvania Convention Center, smaller events will be happening all week from July 22nd to July 27th including live performances, political game competitions, and panel discussions.
Also from July 22nd to 27th will be PoliticalFest, a fun, interactive festival related to American history and politics. PoliticalFest events will take place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, with a few other events at locations around town including the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia History Museum, and the historic Union League of Philadelphia, which was built supports of the Union Army during the American Civil War. The PoliticalFest would also be an attraction to check out even if your pollical views don't align with those of the Democratic Party, as PoliticalFest promises to contain non-partisan exhibits that will include interactive displays, historical objects, and special guests to celebrate the pollical history and government of the United States of America.
Union League of Philadelphia - One of the homes of PoliticalFest

Insider Tips

One Interesting way to see Philadelphia for those coming into town for the Democratic National Convention is to participate in the “Donkeys Around Town” Scavenger Hunt.  In anticipation of the DNC, 57 donkey sculptures have been placed around Philadelphia. Each donkey represents one of the 50 US states, Washington D.C., the five American Territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands) and Democrats abroad. All 57 of these groups of voters have played a role in selecting the next 2016 Democratic Presidential Nominee. Each donkey has been painted by local artists to reflect each state or territory.
While most of the donkeys can be found in Center City Philadelphia, there are also donkeys in West Philadelphia and South Philadelphia as well. Each donkey has been placed at a Philadelphia point of interest so tracking down each donkey also means visiting iconic Philadelphia sites such the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Betsy Ross House, and the National Constitution Center. By downloading a Scavify App, participants in the “Donkeys Around Town” Scavenger Hunt can even earn prizes once the contest begins on July 21st.


The Rhode Island Donkey can found inside the National Constitution Center

How to Get There

Fortunately both of the locations of the DNC are very easy to get to. The Wells Fargo Center is located adjacent to AT&T Station on the Broad Street Line and the Pennsylvania Convention Center is even easier to get to.  The Pennsylvania Convention Center is within a 5 minute walk of no fewer than 8 different subway stops on the Market Frankford Line, Broad Street Line, and PATCO High Speed Line. The Pennsylvania Convention Center is also adjacent to Jefferson Station which serves regional rail lines from all across the Philadelphia Region.
For guests of The Constitutional Walking Tour, the easiest way to get to Pennsylvania Convention Center from the National Constitution Center, where all of our tours begin and end, is to simply walk West down Arch Street. Head to the 11th Street Pennsylvania Convention Center entrance, just five blocks away.  If you’re headed to the Wells Fargo Center you should head south down 5th Street from the National Constitution Center to the 5th Street Station a block away and board the Westbound Market Frankford Line Train.  Ride the Market Frankford Line to 15th Street Station and then exit to follow signs for a free transfer onto the South Broad Street Line train which will terminate at AT&T station, your destination.

Additional Information

3601 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148
1101 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215.418.4700 or 1.800.428.9000
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