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Travels Through Philadelphia
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Philadelphia was a planned city founded and developed by William Penn, a Quaker. Penn's surveyor, Thomas Holme, laid out the city in a strict grid, with all streets running either north-south or east-west. The north-south streets are numbered sequentially from Front (instead of First), along the Delaware River, to 13th, followed by the main north-south thoroughfare, Broad Street (instead of 14th). The numbered streets then resume, continuing in the original plan to 28th at the Schuylkill River. The east-west streets, most of which are named for trees, parallel the main thoroughfare named High Street by Penn, but called Market Street since at least the early 18th century. He also planned five public parks, one at the intersection of High and Broad Streets in the very center of the city (now occupied by the City Hall) and four others (now called Washington Square, Rittenhouse Square, Logan Circle and Franklin Square) set in equal distances around it. Rittenhouse Square is named after a son of the first paper-maker, William Rittenhouse. Rittenhousetown is a delightful rural setting in Fairmount Park. David Rittenhouse was a clockmaker and friend of the American Revolution. In 1876 Philadelphia hosted the World's Fair known as the Centennial Exposition. Memorial Hall and the expansive mall in front of it are remnants of this fair. In 1926, the city held the Sesquicentennial Exposition.

  • The Declaration of Independence was signed on August 2nd. A resolution adopting the measure was approved on July 4, 1776.
  • The first person to ride in a balloon, was Jean Pierre Blanchard in 1793. George Washington watched as the balloon ascended from a prison yard at 6th and Walnut. It landed 46 minutes later in NJ.
  • "Meet me at the eagle." Where? The Grand Court at Wanamaker's, home of a bronze eagle statue, purchased at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis.
  • Philadelphia was named the safest of the 12 largest cities in America, according to a recent FBI Crime Index Report.
  • Conde' Nast Traveler, voted Philadelphia the Best Restaurant City in the country.
  • The city features some of the finest museums in North America - including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum and the Franklin Institute.
  • Philadelphia is one of our country's most historic cities. Walk the same streets as our Founding Fathers and feel the history that surrounds you.
  • The new Pennsylvania Convention Center is state-of-the-art and the 2nd largest in the Northeast.
  • Philadelphia is home to the nation's first public grammar school, now known as the William Penn Charter School, founded in 1689.
  • America's first life insurance company, The Presbyterian Minister's Fund, was opened in Philadelphia in 1717.
  • America's first botanical garden, Bartram's Gardens, opened in 1728.
  • Philadelphia is home to the nation's first public library - the Free Library of Philadelphia - founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731.
  • The first volunteer fire department, the Union Fire Company, was founded in Philadelphia in 1736 by Benjamin Franklin.
  • The Pennsylvania Hospital, founded by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Bond, opened its doors in 1751 - the first hospital in America.
  • The concept of lightning being electricity was discovered by Benjamin Franklin in 1752 when he was able to draw lightning from the clouds by means of a kite.
  • The first flag of the United States was sewn in Philadelphia in 1777 by Betsy Ross.
  • The first university in America, the University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1779, traces its roots to a tuition-free school founded in 1740.
  • The Pennsylvania Bank, the first American public bank, opened in 1780. It was later renamed the Bank of North America, the first incorporated bank chartered by the Continental Congress.
  • Philadelphia was the first capital of the United States from 1790 - 1800.
  • The first stock exchange in the United States was the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, which organized in 1790.
  • The first mint in the United States opened in Philadelphia in 1792. For the first time standardized coins were issued for the new nation.
  • The first municipal water system in the country, the Philadelphia Water Works, began operation in 1799.
  • The first art school and art museum in America, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, was founded in Philadelphia in 1805.
  • The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, organized in 1827, is the oldest continually operating horticultural society in the United States. The Philadelphia Flower Show, first held in 1829 and sponsored by the Society, was the first large flower show in the country.
  • In 1874 the Philadelphia Zoo became the first zoo to open in the United States.
  • The first World's Fair held in the new world was held in Philadelphia in 1876 to mark the centennial of the United States.
  • The PSFS Building in downtown Philadelphia became the nation's first modern skyscraper (notably fully air-conditioned) when it opened its doors in 1932.
  • The world's first computer, ENIAC, was built at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946.


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