Philadelphia is the sixth most heavily populated city in the United States and is the biggest city in the state of Pennsylvania. The city covers an area of one hundred and thirty-five square miles and has a population of over one and a half million people in the city limits. The greater Philadelphia area has a population of almost six million people, making it the fifth largest metropolitan area in the United States. Philadelphia is the seat of Philadelphia County and is known by a variety of nicknames which include “City of Brotherly Love” and “Philly”.
Philadelphia is a city that can trace its history to well before the sixteenth century. This is when the area was occupied by a Native American tribe known as the Lenape tribe. During the 1620s, Dutch explorer Dutchman Cornelius Jacobsen Mey explored what is currently known as Delaware Bay. This led to the establishment of a Dutch fort on the western bank of the bay at Swanendael. A decade or so later, German and Dutch stockholders founded the New Sweden Company in order to trade for tobacco and animal hides in the Americas. In 1637, the company’s first expedition left from Sweden under the guidance of Commander Peter Minuit. Peter Minuit was previously the governor of a Dutch colony called New Netherland, located on Manhatten Island, from the 1620s to the 1630s. In March of 1638, the ships arrived at Delaware Bay and immediately began construction of a fort on what is now Wilmington.
In 1861, Charles II of England granted a charter to William Penn to allow him to build the colony of Pennsylvania. After he received the charter, William Penn purchased lands from the Lenape Indian tribe. He then sent commissioners down to the area of the settlement and instructed them to set aside ten thousand acres for the city. The commissioners began to lay the city out from Wicaco settlement, north along the Delaware River. In October of 1682, William Penn landed in the area and checked on the progress of the settlement. To his disappointment, the city plan wasn’t expansive enough and he proceeded to expand the city west towards the bank of the Schuylkill River. From 1683 to 1701, the city experienced a population growth of around three hundred residents to over twenty-five hundred residents. The city experience a great influx of immigrants from various ethnic backgrounds including English, Welsh, Dutch, African, Finnish, Swedish and German peoples. In 1701, William Penn issued the city a charter and established it as a city.
With the fresh influx of people into the city, Philadelphia went on to become an important center for trade. The city also became known for its tolerance of religion. As a result, it experienced an influx of religious groups such as Mennonites, Catholics, Anglicans, Jews and Pietists. The city would continue to grow at a steady pace. As a result, during the first half of the eighteenth century, Philadelphia was plagued with crime and was dirty. The roads were unpaved at this time, so streets would become unpassable. There was blight and urban sprawl everywhere. However, this would change by the middle of the eighteenth century as streets began to become paved and gas lights were installed around their perimeter. Several structures were also built in the city during this time. This included Christ Church and Independence Hall. Refuse in the city was also starting to be addressed and the city began publishing its first newspaper. A large part of the city’s development can be attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who entered the city in 1723. Ben Franklin established the first fire district, the Union Fire Company, and also established a postal route between the city and other colonies. He also raised the funds to build the colonies first hospital and established the College of Philadelphia.
Today, Philadelphia has a thriving economy that is based on oil refinement, food processing, health care, biotechnology, manufacturing and tourism. The city houses the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and contains several Fortune 500 companies. These include Comcast, Colonial Penn, Lincoln Financial Group, Sunoco, Cigna, Glaxo Smith Kline and FMC Corp. The city is also home to several federal institutions which include the United States Mint, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the United States Court of Appeals Third Circuit. The tourism sector of the city is bolstered by its many historical attractions.
A popular attraction in the city is Independence Hall. Independence Hall is located on Chestnut Street between fifth and sixth streets. This building was constructed in 1753 as the Pennsylvania State House. But, its primarily known for its part during American Independence. Between 1775 and 1783, Independence Hall was the main meeting place for the Second Continental Congress. The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were both signed here. This red brick building was built in the Georgian architectural style by Andrew Hamilton and Edmund Woolley. The highest part of the building is one hundred and thirty-five feet above the ground. Adjoined to the building are two smaller satellite buildings; Old City Hall and Congress Hall.
Other popular attractions in Philadelphia include Reading Terminal Market, Liberty Bell, Bicentennial Bell, Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution, Eastern State Penitentiary, W. Graham Arader III Gallery of Philadelphia, Fairmount Park, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, Rosenbach Museum and Library, Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, Betsy Ross House, National Liberty Museum, Independence National Historical Park, Mutter Museum, Powel House, Arden Theatre Company, Nodding Head Brewery, National Constitution Center, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Franklin Court, Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. And the city is also home to some fabulous cafes, hotels and restaurants.