Something old: Historic bank's beauty lures brides-to-be
The Second Bank of the United States might not be Philadelphia's top tourist draw, having to compete with neighbors like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, but its regal architecture is luring a whole different type of visitor: wedding photographers and soon-tobe brides and grooms. The Greek Revival-style bank is one of the most popular places for wedding photos in the city, so much so that the National Park Service set up a permit office to accommodate wedding photo shoot requests.
Kaitlyn Daly, 25, of Vineland, New Jersey, thought the spot was perfect for her February wedding photos. But she had to convince her husband, Michael Daly, 29, who was pushing for pictures atop the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps, which Sylvester Stallone bounded up in the "Rocky" movies. "My husband is a huge Rocky fan," Daly said. "He was like 'we have to, we have to get a photo on the Rocky steps,' and I was not sold on the idea."
She came upon the bank while researching popular locations for wedding photo shoots, and her husband was persuaded. "It's a beautiful piece of history in Philly," she said. The Second Bank of the US served as the nation's financial hub, beginning in 1816 under a 20-year charter. It was designed by architect William Strickland, who based the design on the Parthenon. Construction finished around 1824. It now houses the "People of Independence" exhibit, a collection of over 150 portraits of 18th and 19th-century leaders, including the country's earliest presidents. It's a staid counterpoint to the bustle and excitement of the portraits being taken outside. Independence National Historical Park issued over a dozen wedding shoot permits at the bank in June, its busiest month for wedding shoots and about 400 permits in 2016, according to park ranger Adam Duncan. But the number is likely much higher because not all couples apply for a permit. "Some people aren't aware that it is a part of the national park here," Duncan said.
On a recent Saturday, wedding parties filed onto the lawn of the south facade awaiting their photo op, while colonial re-enactors marched nearby, accompanied by fife and drum, and groups of tourists milled about. Melissa Andresko, 41, in a blush pink Maggie Sottero gown and her husband Ross Mabon, 43, a native of Scotland wearing a traditional kilt, posed on the steps as their photographer snapped away. The couple, who now live in Allentown, Pennsylvania, set out to find a location that matched their vintage Hollywood glam-themed wedding. The bank "just took our breath away," Andresko said.
Yifat Ayalon and Andrew Weinstein in Philadelphia.
Melissa Ihle holds her wedding dress as she leaves an entrance to the Second Bank of the United States.
A Revolutionary War re-enactor leads members of the public in a march in front of the Second Bank of the United States, as Melissa Andresko has wedding pictures taken.
Melissa Andresko and Ross Mabon pose for their wedding photographer at the Second Bank of the United States in Philadelphia.