Philly Historic Sites Feel Sequester's Wrath

Hundreds of thousands of visitors to be shut out from popular tourist sites due to budget cuts

Nighttime hours at places like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, various historic sites and Park Ranger-led walking tours are all going away thanks to the federal government’s sequester.

The budget impasse known as sequestration has cut $1.21 million from the Independence National Historical Park’s budget -- prompting the cuts.

"We will see some affects over the next two to four years if this continues," said Jane Cowley of the Independence National Historic Park.

In total, about 225,000 visitors will be affected by the cuts. The park also won't be able to fill 16 job positions and visitors will see cutbacks in park services.

Before the sequester went into effect on March 1, reported that the cuts were possible. Back then, Park Service spokesman Jeffrey Olson said "we're planning for this to happen and hoping that it doesn't.”

Despite Olson’s hopes, the cuts have occurred, which Independence Hall and Liberty Bell will both close at 5 p.m. The historic sites will continue to do so all summer long. The hours reduction at Independence Hall during the summer will affect 43,600 visitors. As for the Liberty Bell, 112,000 visitors will be shut out of the site.

The cuts will also cause the shutdown of five historic buildings in May -- the Bishop White House, Todd House, New Hall Military Museum, Declaration House and Fragments of Franklin Court.

The Germantown White House -- including the Deshler Morris House and the Bringhurst House -- has not opened as planned in March 2013 and will remain closed to visitors, according to the park service.

The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site will be open three days a week instead of five and the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial will be open two days a week instead of five.

In addition to the closures, all National Park Ranger-led walking tours and programs will be canceled.

Several people visiting Philadelphia on Wednesday were saddened by the news.

"I think it might deter some people from coming out here," said Nick Sorge of Fort Collins, Colo. "People are busy from 9-to-5 like we were today and it can definitely have an affect on that kind of stuff."

"A lot of people travel all over the country to come here," said Bob Millbyer of Kansas City, Mo. "If this is going to be cut back, that affects that. It's really going to hurt a lot of people's feelings."

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