Philadelphia History, Pennsylvania
When the Europeans arrived in what is today Philadelphia, PA in the early 1600’s, the area was inhabited by a group of Delaware Indians known as the Shackamaxons. The first European settlers to settle in the area were British, Swedish, and Dutch. The Swedish settlers built their economy based on agriculture, mostly tobacco, and the fur-trade. This gave them an edge over the other settlements whose economies were based mostly on trade.
Many of the Swedish and Dutch settlements that made up the area at the time were included in New Netherland province. This province was mostly autonomous from the other colonies. They had their own lands, religion, and political systems. This lasted until around 1664 when the British defeated New Netherland.
In 1682, the area was added to the Pennsylvania charter. Charles II of England repaid a debt owed to William Penn by offering him the charter which would come to be known as the Pennsylvania colony. In order to ensure peace and good relations with their neighbors, Penn also purchased the area from the local Delaware Indian tribe. According to legend, this purchase went hand-in-hand with a pact of friendship with the tribe.
One of the most important things that Penn planned in the early days of the colony was a city along the Delaware River that would act as a port and political center. He named the city Philadelphia which means “brotherly love” in Greek. The city’s name was representative of Penn’s Quaker background. Since he had suffered persecution because of his religion, he hoped to build a colony where people could worship freely.
Penn had hoped that the city would remain small with gardens and orchards between the homes and businesses. Despite his plans, however, settlers subdivided and sold their lots causing homes to be crowded along the Delaware River. Philadelphia was made an official city in 1701 and would soon become an important trade center.
At first, the living conditions within the city were quite poor. By the 1750’s, however, men like Benjamin Franklin had taken to improving the city and the services offered there. It was around this time that Philadelphia became the home of the first hospital in the American colonies.
Since Philadelphia was centrally located within the colonies, the city played a significant role during the American Revolution and many battles were fought in and around the city. The First and Second Continental Congresses were held there, as was the Constitutional Convention. The United States Declaration of Independence was also signed in Philadelphia. The city was one of the top candidates for the United States capital, but this title went to Washington, DC instead. Philadelphia did, however, serve as a temporary capital city during the 1790’s while the state buildings in Washington, DC were under construction.
Philadelphia also played a significant role in the early building-up of the United States. For some time, it was the largest city in the U.S. as well as a center for culture and finance. It was also the first industrialized city in the country.
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Read our members' reviews about Philadelphia
- One night in Philadelphia
review by mohds2 posted more then 30 days ago
The historical town of Philadelphia is a famous place where you can visit the most ancient but affluent sites. For those looking for comfortable housing, Philly, as it’s widely called, provides an option among the top hotels. Varying from famous hotel shackles to individual hotels,...
Read our members' travel tips about Philadelphia
- The Betsy Ross House
travel tip by Elza posted more then 30 days ago
Betsy Ross is a true American icon, because according to its descendants, she was the one who sew the first national flag of the United States. The oral history states that George Washington, Robert Morris and George Ross visited Betsy...
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
travel tip by andra88 posted more then 30 days ago
We visited the painting exhibition of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and their Picasso collection just took our breath away. We were always drawn to contemporary, impressionist art and Picasso being the best representative of the...
- Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia
travel tip by Belinda posted more then 30 days ago
The best get-away for families with children old and young is Please Touch Museum. They have everything kids could love. And because children are so curious here they can easily touch everything, explore the areas without danger and most...
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