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The Rich History of Philadelphia, PA

philadelphia personal injury attorney near historic bank

The personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia, PA, present this article to share detailed information about the area.

Philadelphia is a city in the state of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is the sixth most populous city in the United States and the most populous city in Pennsylvania. The city spans 142.70 square miles and is home to approximately 1,584,064 residents with a population density of 11,796.81 per square mile. The city belongs to ZIP codes 19092–19093, 19099.


The Philadelphia area was originally home to the Lenape Indians in the village of Shackamaxon. The Native American tribe is also the First Nations band government. The Lenape Indians' historical territory was along the Delaware River watershed, western Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley. During the 18th century, many Lenape Indians were pushed out of their Delaware homeland by expanding European colonies.

Not only were the Lenape communities weakened by violent conflicts with Europeans, but newly introduced diseases, mainly smallpox, also weakened them.

Most Lenape Indians remained in the area until the 1860s. In the 1860s, the United States government sent most Lenape Indians remaining in the eastern United States to the Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma, under the Indian removal policy. Today, most Lenape Indians still reside in Oklahoma, with some communities living in Wisconsin, Ontario (Canada).

The Dutch founded European settlement in Philadelphia and considered the entire Delaware River valley to be part of their New Netherland colony. In 1638, Swedish settlers led by the Dutch established the colony of New Sweden at Fort Christina, which is present-day Wilmington, Delaware, and quickly spread out in the valley.

In 1644, New Sweden supported the Susquehannocks, Iroquoian-speaking Native Americans who lived in areas adjacent to the Susquehanna River, in their war against Maryland colonists.

To reassert their dominion over the area, the Dutch built Fort Beversreede on the west bank of Delaware, south of the Schuylkill, in 1648. This led to the Swedes' response which was the building of Fort Nya Korsholm, a Swedish colony named after a town in Finland with a Swedish majority.

The conflict between the Swedish and the Dutch continued. In 1655, a Dutch military campaign, led by New Netherland Director-General Peter Stuyvesant, took control of For Nya Korsholm, ending its claim to independence. Following the Dutch takeover, the Swedish and Finnish settlers continued to have their own militia, religion, and court and enjoy substantial autonomy under the Dutch.

The area then changed substantially once William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, bought the land and made a treaty of friendship with Lenape chief Tammany to be on good terms with the Native Americans and ensure peace for his colony.

Philadelphia soon became home to several societies, including the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture (1785), the Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts (1787), the Academy of Natural Sciences (1812), and the Franklin Institute (1824).

The societies attracted skilled immigrants from Europe, and the area continued to develop and prosper.

From 1790-1800, Philadelphia served as the temporary capital of the United States while the new capital was under construction in the District of Columbia.

Throughout the 19th century, Philadelphia was home to many industries and businesses, the largest being textiles. The job opportunities attracted many immigrants, mostly from Ireland and Germany.

By the 20th century, Philadelphia had a strong Republican political machine. In July 1919, Philadelphia was one of more than 36 industrial cities nationally to suffer a race riot of ethnic whites against blacks during Red Summer.

The city has since diversified, and in 1950, the population peaked at more than two million residents. By the 1980s, contemporary skyscrapers were built in Center City.

Presently, Philadelphia is rapidly undergoing gentrification, but the city actively maintains strategies to minimize the displacement of homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods.

Historic Sites

If you're in Philadelphia, be sure to check out these historical sites to learn more about the city's history.

  • Old City, a historic neighborhood in Center City, Philadelphia, where William Penn and the Quakers first settled.
  • Society Hill, a historic neighborhood in Center City Philadelphia, where you will find the largest concentrations of original 18th and early 19th-century buildings in the United States.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out: A Tour of Harrowgate, PA

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David Petrone
Date Published: May 21, 2021
David Petrone is a personal injury attorney at Justice Guardians.
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