Second Bank of the United States

Philadelphia
PA

The Second Bank, modeled after the Parthenon

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QUICK FACTS
  • Designed by William Strickland (1788 - 1854) who won a competition in 1818. Famous for his Greek Revival architecture, The Second Bank building is Strickland’s fifth completed building, and the one that made him famous.
  • In 1828 Strickland accepted a commission to replace the steeple to Independence Hall. The original wooden steeple from 1750, badly damaged, had been removed in 1781. The steeple we see today is a restoration of the Strickland steeple completed in 2012.
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Completed in 1824, it is used today as a portrait gallery for 185 paintings of colonial and federal leaders, many by Charles Willson Peale.
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The Revolutionary leaders never intended to create an original and peculiar indigenous culture. Despite all their talk of American exceptionalism and American virtue in contrast with European corruption, they were seeking not to cut themselves off from Europe’s cultural heritage but to embrace it and in fact to fulfill it. It is a mistake to view America’s post-Revolutionary emulation of Europe as a legacy of helpless dependence passed on from colonial days. Americans imitated European styles and forms not because in their naïveté they could nothing else but because they wanted to.... Their revolution was very much an international affair, an attempt to fulfill the cosmopolitan dreams of the Enlightenment.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)