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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 university.

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 Terminal Market.
 
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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