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Philadelphia Pennsylvania


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of the oldest and most historically important cities in the United States. Known as “Philly” to the locals and “The City of Brotherly Love” to the masses Philadelphia is a city packed full of charm, culture and quintessential American history.


Philadelphia was founded in 1682 by a Quaker named William Penn. It was named Philadelphia, Greek for Brotherly Love, in the hopes of promoting William Penn’s philosophy of freedom and religious tolerance. It was an extremely important city during the American Revolution since both the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution were signed in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Philadelphia was also the capital of The United States before it was officially moved to the federal city of Washington DC? in 1800.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was first the home of the Lenape First Nations tribe, long before the arrival of European explorers in the early 1600s. In 1638, however, the Swedish laid claim to the land, naming it New Sweden. The settlement was intended to become a major agricultural and trading center, under the appropriately named the New Sweden Company.

Within a few years, the British founded a competitive settlement, drawing settlers from nearby Connecticut who also attempted to found their own settlement in the region.

The settlers of New Sweden offered help to First Nations tribes at war with the English in the Maryland area, helping to secure a native victory. The English would continue fighting in the region until William Penn established the Charter for Pennsylvania in 1682. Legend tells of Penn forging a treaty with the Lenape chieftain under an elm tree in what is now the district of Kingston.

Penn’s plan was to found a city without walls, open to all religious traditions and free from fear and war, generating a reputation for “brotherly love” long before Philly would come to be known as the City of city of Brotherly Love, which would ultimately become the city‘s name (philo means love, and adelphos means brother). He modeled his city after rural England, utilizing a simple grid pattern for roads lined with trees. His new home began in the settlement of Wicaco and grew north-wards, claiming the river as residential land.

By the early 18th century the city was growing at a surprising rate. Its location turned Philadelphia into a major commercial center, trading along the Delaware river from sources as far away as the West Indies (now commonly referred to as the Caribbean).

Unfortunately, the war between France and England brought trade to a virtual stand still until Queen Anne’s War ended in 1713. The brief respite from the depressed economy following the end of the war was short lived, and the economy crashed in 1720. For the next two decades, Philly relied mostly on agriculture and the lumber industry to survive.

The virtual depression, coupled with heavy racial and religious tensions based on the multicultural diversity that the city was known for led to an increasingly volatile community. Rioting was common leading into the mid 1700s, a situation only worsened by the continual conflicts overseas. Crime rates began to climb, to the extent that one man is said to have left the city just to avoid becoming Mayor.

Even still, Philadelphia was growing. Several historic sites were constructed during these turbulent times, such as the Christ Church, said to be one of the best examples of the Georgian architecture in the country, built between 1722-44. The church has long been a part of national history, proudly claiming among its members several names found on the Declaration of Independence, including Benjamin Franklin, who lies in the church cemetery.

Gas lighting was installed, and several streets were paved. The city’s first newspaper, the American Weekly Mercury was founded, and several schools, libraries and theatres were established.

In 1723, Benjamin Franklin, one of the most influential Americans, came to the city, founding the Union fire Company a few years later. The UFC would grow into the Philadelphia Fire Dept., established in 1870.

Franklin would also be instrumental in raising money to found The Academy and College of Philadelphia in 1749, Philly’s first hospital in 1752, and several defensive militias during the French and Indian Wars of 1754–1763.

The Liberty Bell was forged in 1753, and hung outside the State House. The bell cracked upon its first ring, and was restored as best as possible while a replacement was crafted in London’s Whitechapel (the district famous as the haunting ground of Jack the Ripper). The ring of the recast bell was disappointing to residents, and further work was needed before it could be hung in the State House that summer. It came to rest at its current home in the Liberty Bell Center in 2003.

In 1753, Independence Hall officially opened, as the Pennsylvania State House. The World Heritage Site is best known as the location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and the original home of the Liberty Bell.

Ben Franklin became the post master general, establishing routes between New York City and Boston.

Following the end of the French and Indian Wars in 1763, the population swelled due to people seeking refuge from the violent conflict known as Pontiac’s Rebellion.

The Liberty Bell was rung to signal the official opening of the First Constitutional Congress in 1774. The gathering was called in response to heavy taxation and interference in continental matters by the government of England, hoping to offset the large debt incurred during the Seven Years War.

A second Continental Congress was established in 1775, lasting into 1781. The Second Continental Congress served as the US government during the American Revolution, and passed several milestones, including the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and the Articles of Confederation in 1781.

In 1776, residents began to flee the city in fear of British invasion. General George Washington drove the British to Trenton, New Jersey, and residents returned to the now secure Philadelphia. The British would invade once again, late in 1777, and half the population fled.

In 1778, French and American allies beat the British out of the city, and residents once again returned.

In 1787, delegates from across the country met in Philadelphia seeking to Address new challenges in governing the country as independence set in. The result of the Philadelphia Convention was the United States Constitution, which came into effect on September 17, 1787. The Constitution established the forms of government, including the presidency, basic laws and rights of American residents and the Supreme Court. The US Constitution is now the oldest existing document of its type in the world, and is preserved in the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC.

In 1790, the US Congress established residence in Constitution Hall, while the city served as the nation’s capital. During its ten year term as capital, newly elected President George Washington lived in the city on Market Street.

Beginning in 1793, an outbreak of Yellow Fever claimed several thousand lives and drove countless more from the city capital. By the end of the decade, the disease had run its course and the population began to return.

Over the next few years, Philadelphia grew into a major coastal port, even though the government had left the city in 1799. Trade was briefly stifled during an embargo of 1807 and the War of 1812, but bounced back strongly following the end of the war. The lost momentum, however, never fully returned, and much of the trade found its way to New York City.

The void was filled with several new industries, including mining and pulp and paper mills, which churned out product to be shipped across America, filling a demand that was not being met due to international trade embargoes. The renewed economy allowed Philadelphia to expand and modernize, building canals and railroads that helped establish the city as a major industrial power.

The Philadelphia Naval Shipyard was established in the early 1800s, on the site of an earlier commercial shipyard. The nation’s first naval shipyard would come to prominence during the Second World War, when more than 40,000 citizens gained employment in the construction of military ships.

The US Mint began life as the Philadelphia Mint, two blocks from where the current mint stands. Ye Old Mint produced a little more than 300,000 coins a year (it currently mints approximately 2,000,000 coins an hour).

Other major landmarks dating to this time include the Franklin Institution (1824), the Academy of Natural Sciences (1812), and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1805).

In 1837, legendary author Edgar Allen Poe moved to the city. While here, Poe wrote more than 30 stories, including some of his most famous works like The Tell-Tale Heart and Murders in the Rue Morgue. In 1843, he moved into a home in Spring Garden, the last of his homes in Philadelphia, where he would stay until leaving the city in 1844. In 1933 Richard Gimbel, son of Gimbels Department Store founder Adam Gimbel, purchased the home and converted it into a Poe museum. The home is now a National Historic Site.

During the mid 1800s, Philly became a prominent stop on the Underground Railroad, , through which escaped slaves looking for freedom could travel in secret to safer environments. As a whole, however, the city stood against the abolition movement, and tensions rose. The resulting violence led directly to the Act of Consolidation, of 1854. The act unified the city and surrounding boroughs, forging a municipality with one government.

The University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1740. The institution would play an important national role, producing the country’s first medical school in 1765.

The Pennsylvania Railroad was founded in 1846.

During the American Civil War, the general attitude towards slavery began to shift, and Philadelphia sided with the north, further stoking the outbreaks of violence.

The peace that followed the war saw the population grow, attracted by the economic potential and revitalized image. The waves of migrants led the wealthier residents to establish several suburbs.

The Philadelphia Zoo opened in 1774.

The city played host to the centennial International Exposition in 1876, the first world’s fair. The fair welcomed pavilions from around the globe, and nearly 10 million visitors. Alexander Graham Bell presented his telephone at the fair.

The increased attention drew more residents to the city, which continued to grow into the early years of the First World War. The war led to redevelopment of several areas, including the construction of a new naval yard at Hog Island. Several new roads were constructed, and following the war a bridge was built across the Delaware River.

The revitalized economy led to new businesses as well, a trend which continued into the Depression era. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, for example, opened in 1928.

The city survived the depression only with the help of the Second World War. Military production was further enhanced with War Bonds, which were easily met in the city.

The post war years were turbulent, as racial tensions rose, wages dropped and the city endured a housing shortage. Philly slowly climbed out of the mire, and towards the mid 20th century began serious efforts to revitalize its fading image.

In 1948, a national park was commissioned surrounding Independence Hall. The park claims 45 acres of the old city downtown, and maintains several important historic landmarks such as Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center. Two years later, the Independence Mall was founded. That same year, Independence Hall was restored to its original condition.

Major roadways were developed, including the Schuylkill Expressway and the Delaware Expressway, now the I-95.

On Independence Day in 1962, President John F Kennedy spoke at Independence Hall.

Racial tensions resurfaced during the 1960s and 70s, resulting in rioting and the loss of several lives. By the 1908s, organized crime became a prominent aspect of Philly culture, resulting in high drug use and soaring murder rates. The city’s public image suffered, becoming seen as violent and unsafe for travellers.

As the new millennium approached, Philadelphia began seeking a new image, renovating older districts and building new cultural and corporate centers. City planners also began promoting Philly’s important history and culture, hoping to increase tourism.

These efforts paid off, and Philadelphia became recognised as one of America’s great tourist destinations, earning the title of America’s Next Great City by National Geographic Traveller in 2005.


Philadelphia was one of the first planned cities. Meaning it was one of the first cities to use the very innovative concept of positioning streets on a north-south, east-west grid system. Many of the north-south streets use a number system, while many of the east-west streets are named after trees.


Power: 120 V, 60 Hz

Languages: English

Climate: Philadelphia enjoys a humid, sub-tropical climate, with hot and humid summers. Rainfall is heaviest during the summer months. The extra humidity lends to a cold winter, seeing regular snowstorms.

Currency: US Dollar

Time Zone: UTC/GMT -5 hours


Old City

Society Hill

Independence Hall

Independence Seaport Museum

Liberty Bell

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Edgar Allan Poe House

Betsy Ross House

Rodin Museum

Eastern State Penitentiary

Reading Terminal Market

There is plenty more to explore in Philadelphia.

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