A few hours later, held firmly by yellow hoists attached to a yellow crane, it was lifted again and guided into a great crate, to be trucked away to storage.
Independence National Historical Park officials must now mull where the bell's next permanent home will be.
The dramatic move from the 130-foot tower at the northern end of the old visitor-center site also marks the most public evidence that change is coming. Independence Park no longer owns the entire visitor-center property. The Museum of the American Revolution will be moving in, and the bell's departure augers the eventual arrival of a new museum building, believed to house the nation's only public museum devoted to telling the story of America's war for independence.
Park spokesman Adam Dunn said the bell would be in storage for an unspecified period of time.
"We definitely will put it on display for the public," he said. "Exactly how and when and where hasn't been decided."
Michael C. Quinn, president of the Museum of the American Revolution, watched the bell's move Thursday. He said his organization has "just passed $93 million" in its fund-raising efforts, leaving about $17 million to go before construction will begin. At $110 million, the building project will be fully funded. (The museum is also seeking $40 million for programming and endowment.)
"We don't want a hole in the ground" while fund-raising continues, Quinn said. "We want to raise the money before we start."