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Founded by English Quaker William Penn and Philadelphia is called the Birthplace of the Nation because it is the site of the birth of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. This Pennsylvania city is located at the junction of the Delaware and Schuykill rivers, midway between New York City and Washington DC and an hour’s drive from the South Jersey shore. The Philadelphia name comes from the Greek for “city of brotherly love,” and Penn welcomed people of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. Today, Philadelphia has its own Multicultural Affairs Congress. It is the nation’s fifth largest city with an estimated population of some 1,470,000. Its metropolitan population now exceeds 4,900,000.

Philadelphia’s distinctive districts include the Historic and Waterfront District, site of the earliest settlements and home of the Liberty Bell andIndependence Hall; Old City, Philadelphia’s first commercial district, site of the Betsy Ross home, and “known for the most exciting collection of artgalleries on the East Coast;” Society Hill, upscale neighborhood fronting on Delaware River; South Street and its dynamic nightlife; Washington Square District, the heart of one of the public square planned by Penn; South Philadelphia, historic mix of ethnic neighborhoods best known for its open-air Italian Market; the Avenue of the Arts, site of the Academy of Music, popular theaters, and new Regional Performing Arts Center; and El Centro de Oro, the city’s Latino community. Other notable points of interest are Walnut Street Theater, said to be the oldest continuing theater in the U.S.; the giant Pennsylvania Convention Center; Fairmount Park, world’s largest landscaped urban park; the prestigious Rittenhouse Square, famous for its world class shopping and dining; Mayayunk and its chic boutiques and galleries on “Philadelphia’s Main Street.” The city’s most famous annual event is the New Year’s Day Mummers Parade, a colorful tradition dating back to Swedish and Finnish settlers. Philadelphia is a city of sports fanatics, boasting Phillies major league baseball, the Eagles NFL football, the 76ers NBA basketball and the Rage ABL basketball, the Wings lacrosse, and the KiXX soccer.
Benjamin Franklin’s philosophical, political, and scientific accomplishments set the stage for city’s reputation as national center of education and culture. It is the home of the world class Philadelphia Orchestra and Curtis Institute of Music, and site of the oldest school of arts in America, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Once noted for its international seaport and shipbuilders, then its many manufacturing plants, the city’s economy is now largely based on government, financial, and educational employment. It is rapidly taking the lead, however, in high-technology and health care industries.

The site of Philadelphia was originally territory controlled by the Delaware Indians. Its first European settlement was by the Swedes in 1640. William Penn was granted proprietary title to the land by the English crown in 1681. Nearly a hundred years later, Philadelphia hosted the two Continental Congresses that led to the Declaration of Independence which sparked the American Revolution in 1776.


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