Philadelphia General Information
Situated between the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers, just across from Camden,
New Jersey, Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania and the fifth
largest city in the USA.
||The birthplace of the United States and the
nation's original capital (1790-1800), it was founded in 1682, by the
English Quaker, William Penn, who envisioned the colony as a 'holy
experiment' to create a land of tolerance and religious freedom. Many
settlers fleeing persecution flocked to it. Penn named the town after the
Greek word for 'brotherly love'.
At the turn of the 19th century, Philadelphia was known as the 'Workshop of
America', as its cotton mills, textiles manufacturing and steam-powered
machinery plants led the country into the Industrial Revolution. Today,
health care, medical education (one sixth of America's doctors train here)
and service industries such as tourism, banking, legal and insurance
services drive the city's economy. New high-tech industries, such as medical
technology and electrical components, are also emerging.
Many of the city's (and the nation's) most famous sights are preserved in
the downtown's Independence National Historical Park, including the Liberty
Bell, Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in
1776, and the new Constitution Center, honoring the US Constitution.
Colonial Philadelphia was also home to the great statesman, Benjamin
Franklin, founder of the country's first hospital, library, fire company and
Besides its hallowed historical sights, 'Philly,' as natives refer to it,
also revels in culture and the arts, with a renowned orchestra, world-class
museums and fine restaurants. The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is
the shining jewel in the city's artistic crown. Over 100 multi-ethnic
neighborhoods give the city a vibrant atmosphere, from the bustling Italian
market to African-American festivals, from blues and jazz clubs to the
traditional Amish community who sell produce and foodstuffs in Reading
Quintessentially Philly foods such as cheese steaks, soft pretzels and hoagies
(sandwiches) reflect the range of traditions in the city. Philadelphia is also
the gateway for those traveling west into Pennsylvania Dutch Country, north to
the ski resorts of the Pocono Mountains and southeast to the Delaware Peninsula
and Atlantic Seaboard beaches.
Thanks to William Penn, a logical grid pattern for the streets makes
Philadelphia easy to navigate. The downtown area is known as Center City. Main
thoroughfares of Market Street, running east-west, and Broad Street, running
north-south, meet at the central hub of City Hall and form four quadrants around
City Hall. Regions include the Parkway Museums, Convention Center, Washington
Square and Rittenhouse Square districts. Old City and Society Hill/Waterfront
are Philadelphia's oldest areas.
Though sometimes Philadelphians cringe when the city's image takes a beating,
this town has a tendency to embrace its weaknesses. Philly is certainly no
longer in the shadow of its big brother to the north. Even New Yorkers are
pleasantly surprised by what they find here - stunning colonial architecture,
laidback people, sophisticated shopping and nightlife, world-class dining and
museums - without all the traffic, bustle and hassle.
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