The Birth of Philadelphia

Philadelphia was founded and planned in 1682 by William Penn, although the area was previously settled by Swedes, who called the area Wiccacoa, in the early 1600’s.

The name “Philadelphia” means “brotherly love” in Greek. Penn hoped the colony could serve as a refuge for those seeking religious freedom and tolerance. Philadelphia quickly grew as an economic, cultural, and intellectual hub, and became the most important city in the thirteen colonies, and the second most important English speaking city in the world behind London. One of Philadelphia’s leading citizens, Benjamin Franklin, founded the Pennsylvania Gazette, The University of Pennsylvania, and the nation’s first public library and fire company in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia played prominently in the American Revolution. The Continental Congress first met in Philadelphia in 1775 and Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1776. In addition, the city served as the capital of the colonies from 1777 to 1788.