The Philadelphia Story
Made famous as the birthplace of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Philadelphia offers more than cobblestone streets and historic landmarks. Cultural, culinary, artistic and ethnic treasures abound.
Philadelphia was founded in 1682 by William Penn, an English Quaker. King Charles II granted him a parcel of land that included 1,280 acres between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. For Penn, this was the beginning of a new colony based on religious freedom.
Philadelphia’s history from 1774 to 1880 is linked to the American Revolution and the birth of a young nation. As the colonies grew, Philadelphia became the cradle of the nation’s burgeoning quest for freedom. The First Continental Congress met at Carpenter’s Hall in 1774. At the State House, later renamed Independence Hall, patriots declared their independence in 1776. Then in 1787, the Constitutional Convention was held at Independence Hall. A short time later, Philadelphia served as the fledgling nation’s capital from 1790 to 1800. Of course, the rest is history. The story of our nation’s birth is preserved at Independence National Historical Park and brand new visitor’s center, “America’s most historic square mile,” which attracts thousands of visitors each day.
The fifth-largest city in the United States and the second-largest city on the East Coast, Philadelphia is at the crossroads of the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic states. With 1.5 million residents and another four million in the surrounding region, Philadelphia is a welcoming place, the hometown of comedian Bill Cosby, celebrated contralto Marian Anderson, actor and musician Kevin Bacon, Princess Grace of Monaco (first known as the silver screen’s Grace Kelly) and superstar Will Smith.
Philadelphian’s enjoy the opportunities of the city — including international commerce, national touring theatre, over 27 accredited colleges and universities and eight professional sports teams — but take pride in the manageable nature of their hometown.
There’s no better way to explore Philadelphia than on foot. Easily navigatable streets and a host of eclectic neighborhoods make Philadelphia one of the greatest walking cities in the world. A true residential city, Philadelphia is home to fascinating architecture, history and culture. From cobblestoned alleys of colonial-era homes to grand boulevards lined with monumental landmarks, Philadelphia’s streets tell countless stories and provide character for this very diverse city.
A Cultural Destination
No street emits as much energy and flair as South Street, Philadelphia’s hip and trendy melting pot. Between Front and Sixth Streets, a party atmosphere prevails and the people-watching is as fun as the window shopping. All walks of the fashionably unfashionable come together in a variety of restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs. Far-from-conservative specialty stores, antiques and boutiques fill block after block with a smattering of name-brand retailers in the mix. Dining ranges from authentic Philadelphia cheesesteaks to sidewalk cafes and international cuisine.
Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts is the region’s premier performing arts district, extending more than three miles along North and South Broad Street in the heart of Center City. Visitors from around the world are drawn to the vibrant strip by the impressive blend of opera, dance, jazz, symphonic music, classic drama and musical theatre.
Between Broad and 19th Streets on Walnut Street, you’ll find fashionable and upscale retail shops and some of the finest cuisine Philadelphia has to offer along Rittenhouse Row, the most prestigious address in the city. Alfresco dining is the way to go, especially when you have a view of Rittenhouse Square, a beautiful public park designed as part of William Penn’s original city plan. Window-shopping is at its peak among the scores of galleries and shops, including high-end retailers and stores you’ll only find in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia’s location along the East Coast also makes it easily accessible to New York, Boston, Baltimore and Washington, DC, whether by train using Amtrak, or by air via the newly remodeled Philadelphia International Airport. Destinations within the city are also convenient from any dorm, apartment or house via SEPTA’s network of buses, subways and elevated trains.
In recent years, Philadelphia has been named the "number one restaurant city," "America's friendliest city," and "the safest large city." In Philadelphia, you are at the crossroads of big city excitement and hometown hospitality where the promise of the future meets old world charm. The Philadelphia experience — don’t miss it!
Information provided by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau — www.pcvb.org