More Culture:

November 03, 2023

Bicentennial Bell, given to U.S. by Queen Elizabeth II, to be permanently displayed in Old City

The gift, which pays homage to the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, has sat in storage for the last 10 years

History Parks
bicentennial bell garden Office of the City Representative/

The Bicentennial Bell, given to the U.S. by Great Britain when Queen Elizabeth II visited Philadelphia in 1976, will permanently be placed in Benjamin Rush Garden in Old City. The bell is pictured here in Old City before being installed in a bell tower on June 15, 1976.

Philadelphia's Bicentennial Bell — which was gifted to the U.S. by Great Britain when Queen Elizabeth II visited the city in 1976 — will soon have a new home.

The historic artifact will be permanently placed in Benjamin Rush Garden, located at 3rd and Walnut streets in Old City. Estimated to be completed next summer, the project involves revamping the garden into a historical attraction that commemorates the relationship between the U.S. and Britain and displays the bell prominently in the center.

Construction on the bell's new home is being overseen by the National Park Service. The rehabilitation of the "timeworn" garden includes making the space more accessible with a ramp, fixing a water installation and planting shrubs that were traded between Great Britain and its North American colonies in the 1700s.

The Bicentennial Bell commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Queen Elizabeth II, who died last year at the age of 96, dedicated the bell on July 6, 1976, during a visit to Philadelphia.

The approximately 6-ton bell – 6 feet, 10 inches in diameter at its lip and 5 feet, 6 inches in height – has an inscription that reads, "For the People of the United States of America from the People of Great Britain, 4 July 1976, Let Freedom Ring." It was cast in the same London foundry as the Liberty Bell.

"It is a message in which both our people can join and which I hope will be heard around the world for centuries to come," the queen said during her appearance at Independence National Historical Park. She added that she was grateful to America's Founding Fathers for teaching the British "to respect the right of others to govern themselves in their own way."

The Bicentennial Bell was displayed in a bell tower outside Independence National Historical Park's visitor center until 2013, when the building was demolished to make way for the Museum of the American Revolution. The bell was moved into storage, where it sat for the next decade. 

Displaying the bell again has been a collaborative effort between Independence National Historical Park — the federally protected historic district which preserves several historic sites, including Benjamin Rush Garden — and its nonprofit partner, the Independence Historical Trust. A $1 million donation from the Landenberger Family Foundation, a charitable organization that funds historical preservation in Philly, has been used for the project's design and installation.

“I think we’re all excited to have the Bicentennial Bell displayed in the park where it can be appreciated by everyone who visits," Tom Caramanico, executive director of Independence Historical Trust, said in a release. "It’s an important piece of our history and commemorates 200 years of American independence."

Follow Franki & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @wordsbyfranki | @thePhillyVoice
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice
Have a news tip? Let us know.