Gerald Garber came to Philadelphia from his home in Boston this weekend to see where his nation's government was born. But the government had other ideas. Almost all of Philadelphia's historical monuments were closed for three days, starting Saturday, after a federal budget impasse resulted in the stoppage of funding to all "non-essential" government services. However, Garber's fortunes improved yesterday when 19 of the city's historical monuments, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, reopened. They were allowed to open yesterday, at least temporarily, after the federal government passed an emergency spending plan allowing government funds to flow again. And by 2 p.m. yesterday afternoon over 2000 visitors, including Garber, had come to the see the Liberty Bell. Carpenters' Hall, the meeting place of the First Continental Congress, remained open because it is privately owned and operated, according to Kathy Diladorno, chief of interpretation and visitor's information for the city's historical monuments. The city's museums and the zoo were not affected by the funding freeze. The combination of unseasonably warm weather, the beginning of fall and the Columbus Day weekend made the monuments' closing more significant than usual, Diladorno said. The monuments are usually open on Columbus Day. The closing of the monuments spelled disappointment for thousands of tourists over the weekend. But visitors standing on Independence Mall Tuesday said they were not really affected by the close. "We just came and [the Liberty Bell] was open," said Michael Rosenfield, from New York City. "We didn't even know it was closed." Some businesses actually benefitted from the closings. Eric Doyle, who operates a horse-drawn carriage for the 76 Carriage Company, said that people needed guided tours and were willing to pay up to $50 an hour for them. Armond Chapadeau, who works at a privately-owned tourist center near Independence Mall, said that most tourists did not know that the monuments were closed when they arrived, and were angry when found out. "I told them to go back and complain to write their senators," he said. Chapadeau added that "the biggest problem tourists had was the lack of bathrooms."Comments powered by Disqus
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