FMCC Tastes Philadelphia Freedom

The sun was shining on Friday, April 12, 2019 for the FMCC’s Fifth Annual Philadelphia tour hosted by the Biz Hub and Wall Street student clubs. Departing from FM at 6:00 a.m., with a sold-out Brown Bus Coach of FMCC students, employees and family members, the trip continued its tradition of visiting the historic first capital’s sites including the Bourse Building, Congress Hall, Carpenter’s Hall, Benjamin Franklin Museum, and the U.S. Franklin Mint.

The tour began at the newly remodeled Philadelphia Bourse where the FMCC day trippers sampled a cuisine ranging from the classic Philly cheese steak to Korean tacos, Pilipino sausage, and plenty more—certainly not your standard shopping mall food court fare. The Bourse was once a commodities exchange that operated under the motto “Buy, Sell, Ship via Philadelphia.”

Our first stop was the original United States Supreme Court. Here, the FMCC group received a fascinating lesson from a US Parks and Recreation historian. “Passing the Bar” means being allowed to pass through the gate from the spectator gallery to the area where the lawyers present their case to the court.

Next, was a trip to Congress Hall where both houses of Congress originally met. The lower level (or ‘chamber’) was where the first House of Representatives convened from 1790 to 1800. A walk upstairs leads to the original Senate of the United States, the “upper chamber.”

The group stopped at Carpenter’s Hall where the First Continental Congress met prior to independence. That congress was called in response to the Intolerable Acts, which were laws passed in response to the Boston Tea Party.

The Ben Franklin Museum was a new destination for the trip. Did you know that Ben Franklin was apprenticed to a stern brother at age 12, and ran away from Boston to Philadelphia at age 17? Neither did we.

Franklin is famous for many quotes (“a penny saved is a penny earned” or “keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut thereafter” among them), but his genius as an inventor is without parallel. Without his discovery of positive and negative electric charges, the battery may never have been invented. He made the first bifocals. He perfected the Franklin stove. However, his favorite invention was his “glass harmonica,” a musical instrument.

Despite all those inventions, Franklin was a printer by trade. On site at the Franklin Museum there was a working printing press fairly similar to one Ben would have used. It was even staffed by an onsite printer-tradesman who explained the painstaking process as he made copies of the Declaration of Independence.

No Biz Hub/Wall Street Club Philly field trip would be complete without a full tour of the US Franklin Mint, where the group watched pennies and nickels get pressed from blank metal sheet coils. Across the street from the Mint, the group threw pennies on the grave of Franklin, a tradition with Philadelphia tourists. (The money is collected nightly and donated to a local charity.)

After a short burst of rain, it was on to City Tavern for dinner, where colonial-dressed wait staff served genuine colonial fare and beverages. And the students got a lesson in economics. City Tavern is a bit pricier than a typical college student might be able to afford. But the clerk at Carpenter’s Hall gave out “buy one, get one free” coupons. Buddy up with a friend, split the cost and suddenly the elegant dining became affordable.

Next year, the clubs plan to request a bigger bus so that everyone that wants to learn and have fun can come. Quoting Ben Franklin: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Frank Yunker is a Professor of Computer Science and Laurence Zuckerman, CPA, MST, is an Associate Professor of Business and Accounting for FMCC/SUNY. Both serve as faculty co-advisors of the FMCC Wall Street Investments Club.