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Philadelphia History

Surprising to many, the Swedish actually were the first Europeans to settle in Philadelphia. Though not long after, William Penn settled upriver where the Schuylkill meets the Delaware River. Charles II of England was in debt to Penn’s father (an admiral in the British army) and that debt was paid in land. William Penn turned out to be a brilliant city planner. He laid out the city in a grid. Street running north and south were numbered and streets running east to west were

named after trees. Penn was able to attract settlers with great success. Little by little the gridular settlement filled in.

Although Philadelphia was settled after New York and Boston, the city grew to become the largest English speaking city in the British empire, nest to London. By 1800, Philadelphia had spread as far west as Broad Street. During colonial times, Philadelphia thrived in virtually every way.

Benjamin Franklin
One of the most prominent Philadelphians during that era was Benjamin Franklin. Franklin had tremendous success as a printer, inventor, scientist, diplomat and as a statement. He was beloved by the city. Ben Franklin remained a loyal British subject until England’s harsh policies pushed him (and many others) in favor of independence.

Declaration of Independence
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and many others met in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to debate, draft, and sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4th 1176. The declaration was read publicly on July 8th in Independence Square.

U.S. Constitution
British troops occupied patriot homes during the Revolutionary War, which eventually brought battles to Philadelphia. After independence had been won, the Constitutional Convention met in 1787 in Philadelphia. The delegates crafted the Constitution of the United States, which is still followed today. Philadelphia functioned as the U.S. capital from 1790-1800.

After the capital moved to Washington DC, Philadelphia remained a prominent industrial hub. Philadelphia fueled the transportation revolution and was also a key supply center during the Civil War.

Philadelphia endured some difficult times during the 20th century. Much of the Philadelphia’s population moved outside the city to newer, cleaner suburban areas. Consequently, the city became susceptible to crime, drugs, and homelessness.

Polish was brought back to Philadelphia with the opening of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in 1993. Since them there have been a number of revitalization efforts aimed at cleaning up center city: landmarks have been restored, streets repaved, and buildings have been renovated. Subsequently, businesses, stylish shops, and fine restaurants have returned. Philadelphia’s center city is once again a prestigious area to live and work in. Furthermore, tourism has emerged as a lucrative industry that’s brought wealth back to the area.

Philadelphia has regained its luster and has an even brighter outlook on the horizon. However, the city remembers its rich history and honors its heritage.


Philadelphia Travel Guides
 Frommer's Philadelphia
 Lonely Planet Philadelphia
 Let's Go Philadelphia
 Fodors Philadelphia