Introduction to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Granted a charter in 1701, Philadelphia, also known as "the City of Brotherly Love", is the fifth largest city in the United States with a population of just over 1.5 million people. According to the 2000 census, the population of the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area is almost 6.2 million people.
Philadelphia is located in the mid-Atlantic region of the eastern United States, on the Delaware River and the border with New Jersey. It is approximately two hours south of New York City, and two hours north of Baltimore, Maryland.
Philadelphia is ranked as the 22nd "Most Fun U.S City" in a survey conducted in 2003 by Cranium Inc. Factors taken into account in the ranking include: the number of sports teams, restaurants, dance performances, toy stores, the amount of a city's budget that is spent on recreation, and other factors.
Philadelphia is known as a city of neighborhoods. Philadelphia neighborhoods number over 100, including: South Philadelphia, home to the Italian Market; Germantown; and more.
The first Europeans to settle in the area that is now Philadelphia were mainly Swedes. English influence began in 1681 with the granting of the Charter of Pennsylvania by Charles II. William Penn, a Quaker, first landed in 1682 in New Castle, Delaware. He is credited with the founding and planning of Philadelphia. William Penn granted a charter to the City of Philadelphia in 1701. In 1854 Philadelphia was expanded to encompass all of the land of Philadelphia County.
Philadelphia is rich in colonial history and the history of the American Revolution. Some notable dates and events in Philadelphia's history include:
- In 1698, the first public school in the American Colonies was established in Philadelphia.
- The first American-made printing press in 1718.
- Benjamin Franklin first arrived in Philadelphia in 1723.
- In 1773, the Provincial Congress met at Carpenters' Hall.
- In 1775, the Continental Congress in session at Philadelphia elected Benjamin Franklin the first Postmaster General of the United Colonies.
- On July 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted; and on July 8th the Declaration of Independence was read to the people from the Observatory, State House Yard.
- 1777 saw a lot of Revolutionary war action. The British entered Philadelphia in September. The Battle of Germantown happened on October 15, and the Battle of Red Bank happened on October 22. Mud Fort was evacuated and taken by the British in November.
- In 1778, the British evacuated Philadelphia.
- On January 14, 1784, the definitive treaty of peace with England was ratified by Congress.
- In 1786, the first steam vessel navigated the Delaware River, in Philadelphia.
- In 1789, the first election of a President of the United States was held.
- In 1790, the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania, the oldest law school in America, was founded.
- In 1792, an Act passed establishing the United States Mint in Philadelphia.
- The first private residence in the United States lighted by gas was in Philadelphia in 1816.
- In 1876, the first World's Fair in United States was held in Philadelphia to celebrate the Centennial anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
Notable attractions of historic interest include:
- The Betsy Ross House - house where America's first flag maker rented rooms.
- The Liberty Bell Center - features exhibits that examine the Liberty Bell.
- Independence Hall - building most closely associated with the winning of American independence.
- Lights of Liberty - sound and light show that guides individuals through events in the American Revolution.
- The National Constitution Center - tells the story of the U.S. Constitution through interactive, multi-media exhibits, and artifacts.
- The Old City District (OCD) - Independence Hall, Independence Visitor's Center, the National Constitution Center, and the Liberty Bell Center are but a few of the numerous historical attractions in the Old City District.
- Valley Forge National Park - commemorates the collective sacrifices and dedication of the Revolutionary War generation.
Philadelphia Arts and Culture
Philadelphia is a vibrant and rich center for arts and culture. Philadelphia offers museums, the performing arts, and more. Some of Philadelphia's more notable museums include:
- The Franklin Institute Science Museum
- The Independence Seaport Museum
- The Institute of Contemporary Art
- The James A. Michener Art Museum
- The Mummers Museum
- The National Liberty Museum
- The National Museum of American Jewish History
- The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (the oldest art museum in the U.S.)
- The Philadelphia Athletics Museum and Library
- The Philadelphia Museum of Art
- The Philadelphia Insectarium
- The Polish American Cultural Center Museum
- The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
- The United States Mint
For patrons of the performing arts, Philadelphia's notable attractions include:
- The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
- The Opera Company of Philadelphia
- The Pennsylvania Ballet
- The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
- The Philadelphia Orchestra
- The Philadelphia Theatre Company
Philadelphia is also home to numerous events and festivals, including: the Independence Day Ceremony/Philadelphia Liberty Medal Presentation, Sunoco Welcome America!, which is one of the nation's largest outdoor festivals focusing on July 4th; the Philadelphia Marathon and Rothman Institute 8 K Race; the Philadelphia Holiday Festival and City Hall Tree Lighting; and more.
Philadelphia Sports and Leisure
Philadelphia has plenty to offer to fill every sports fan's appetite. Philadelphia and the surrounding area is home to the following major sports teams:
- Baseball - The Major League Baseball (MLB) Philadelphia Phillies. For individuals who like Minor League Baseball action, the Reading Phillies play an hour and a quarter west of Philadelphia in Reading, Pennsylvania. They are a Double A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.
- Basketball - The National Basketball Association (NBA) Philadelphia 76ers.
- Football - The National Football League (NFL) Philadelphia Eagles, and the Arena Football League (AFL) Philadelphia Soul.
- Hockey - The American Hockey League Philadelphia Phantoms, and the National Hockey League Philadelphia Flyers.
- Lacrosse - The National Lacrosse League (NLL) Philadelphia Wings
Philadelphia is also home to Fairmount Park, the world’s largest municipal park. Within easy reach of Center City are opportunities for everything from hiking, biking, blading, boating, and more. Two major National Historic Parks, the Valley Forge National Historical Park, and the Washington Crossing Historic Park are also easily accessible from Philadelphia.
Philadelphia "Must See" Attractions
Philadelphia has attractions too numerous to do justice in a simple list. Some of Philadelphia's more notable and unique attractions include:
- The Battleship New Jersey, now a floating museum on the Delaware River, along the Camden Waterfront across from Center City Philadelphia
- The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
- The Philadelphia Flower Show, the largest indoor flower show in the world
- The Philadelphia Zoo, America's first zoo
- Old City District and all of its historical attractions including Independence Hall, Independence Visitor's Center, the National Constitution Center, the Liberty Bell Center, and more
Philadelphia at Night
Long famous as the home of the Philly cheese steak and hoagies, Philadelphia is also home to numerous eating establishments that span the spectrum of culinary/cultural traditions. Good sources for up-to-the-minute information on Philadelphia's many fine eating destinations can be found in the monthly magazine Philadelphia, as well as the the City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly, both of which are free weekly papers.
The center for evening arts activities in Philadelphia is the Avenue of the Arts cultural district on North and South Broad Street. This area is home to arts facilities such as the Academy of Music, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Merriam Theater, the Prince Music Theater, and the Wilma Theater.
For individuals looking for the Philadelphia club and bar scene, good destinations include the Delaware River waterfront, the clubs and bars of the Old City District, and South Street between Front and 9th streets, to name a few of the many destinations for evening fun.=