Philadelphia is the perfect destination for the Army-Navy Game – the face-off between the cadets from West Point and the midshipmen from Annapolis – not only for its proximity to the two academies but also for its significant history.
“Army-Navy weekend is about celebrating our Armed Forces in a way that only Philadelphia knows how to – with rich historical symbolism and incredible cultural experiences,” said Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Julie Coker Graham. It’s also a time to celebrate the city’s Army-Navy heritage.
After the creation of the United States Navy in 1794 under President George Washington, Commodore John Barry (1745-1803) was appointed first commissioned officer and Secretary. He oversaw construction of the nation’s first fleet and won numerous naval victories during the American Revolution. Born in Ireland, Barry came to Philadelphia as a young boy and remained there until he died. His statue stands outside of Independence Hall.
The museum dedicated to telling the story of the American Revolution is set in Philadelphia’s historic district, steps away from Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and numerous other iconic and pivotal locations in American history. A collection of thousands of objects and immersive exhibits follow the path of the revolution from the early roots of the conflict to the Declaration of Independence to the final years of the war. Not to be missed is George Washington’s war tent.
Octavius V. Catto (1839-1871) lived in Philadelphia and attended the Institute for Colored Youth, which eventually became Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, the first historically black institute. Catto was an educator, Union army major, and political organizer and attempted to break down racial barriers. He worked to get Pennsylvania to ratify the 15th Amendment and in 1871, while urging Blacks to vote, he was assassinated by rioters. A statue dedicated to him sits on the south side of Philadelphia’s City Hall.
Independence Seaport Museum’s Historic Ship Zone features the Cruiser Olympia, the oldest steel warship afloat in the world. Launched in 1892, the vessel served during the Spanish-American War of 1898, was in Russia for the Bolshevik revolution and brought the body of the Unknown Soldier home from France in 1921. Olympia, along with the Battleship Texas, is one of only two American warships that served in World War I that are still afloat. Next to Olympia is Submarine Becuna, launched in 1944. The BALAO-class submarine completed five wartime patrols in the Pacific Ocean and was decommissioned in 1969 and is now a National Historic Landmark. Tours of both vessels are offered with admission to the museum, which maintains a large collection of historical artifacts and records for both ships.
One of the most traditional and enduring rivalries in college football, the Army-Navy Game first met in 1890 – at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, when the city was 114 years old. Franklin Field – on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania – is the oldest college stadium in the United States and home of the historic Penn Relays. The arena is the location of many “firsts,” and besides being the first double-decker stadium, it has the nation’s first scoreboard and was the site of college football’s first televised game.
The New Jersey (BB-62) was launched in 1942 by the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and is the nation’s most decorated and largest battleship. The Battleship New Jersey served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. Visitors have the opportunity to sit in the commander’s chair and visit the Combat Engagement Center, where all weapons were launched and tracked aboard the ship. The Battleship New Jersey is docked on the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey. Tip: the deck of the ship provides perfect spots to snap a picture of the Philadelphia skyline.
The Battleship New Jersey is one of the locations of the Patriot Games, held Friday, December 13, as part of Army-Navy Weekend activities. Learn more in our Army-Navy Events Guide.