Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Greater Philadelphia

A map of the city of Philadelphia, with colored sections separating sections of the city.Map of the City of Philadelphia as consolidated in 1854. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)

Civic boosters in the late nineteenth century adopted “Greater Philadelphia” as a phrase denoting aspirations for progress as well as way of describing the region including Philadelphia and extending beyond its boundaries. For more than a century since, numerous businesses and other organizations, including The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, have signaled their regional scope by adopting this phrase. This layer of the Encyclopedia emphasizes topics that cross the region of Philadelphia, southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and Delaware, including governance, geography and settlement patterns, infrastructure, transportation, and social issues.

Topics: Regional Connections and Impact

Gallery: Regional Connections and Impact

The Lazaretto
The Lazaretto

Library of Congress (Explore in Immigration 1790-1860 and Lazaretto).

Commuting by Omnibus
Commuting by Omnibus

Library Company of Philadelphia (Explore in Omnibus).

Railroad Suburbs
Railroad Suburbs

Library Company of Philadelphia (Explore in Public Transportation and Commuter Trains).

Consolidation
Consolidation

Historical Society of Pennsylvania (Explore in Consolidation Act of 1854).

First Electric Trolley
First Electric Trolley

Historical Society of Pennsylvania (Explore in Streetcars).

PATCO Speedline
PATCO Speedline

Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia (Explore in Subways and Elevated Lines and Delaware River Port Authority).

Public Education
Public Education

Library Company of Philadelphia (Explore in Public Education: Suburbs).

Crossing the Delaware
Crossing the Delaware

Visit Philadelphia (Explore in Delaware River Port Authority).

Regional Commerce
Regional Commerce

Visit Philadelphia (Explore in Shopping Centers).

Timeline: Regional Connections and Impact

Before Colonization
Before Colonization

The Lenape people inhabit a region along the mid-Atlantic coast between the Delaware Bay and New York Bay, including the future location of Philadelphia.

Image credit: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Colonial Era
Colonial Era

1609: Henry Hudson, Englishman sailing for Dutch East India Company, explores Delaware River.

1624: Dutch colony of New Netherland includes area of New Jersey; first settlement, Fort Nassau (later Gloucester, N.J.).

1638: New Sweden established at Fort Christina (later Wilmington, Del.), extends to settlements on both sides of Delaware River.

1663-64: English assert control over Dutch and Swedish territory; New Jersey created, 1664, divided into East and West New Jersey, 1676.

1681: William Penn receives land grant of 45,000 square miles; 1682, selects site for Philadelphia and divides Pennsylvania into three counties: Philadelphia, Chester, and Bucks. Also gains control of lower counties (formerly New Sweden).

Image credit: Library Company of Philadelphia

Colonial Era
Colonial Era

1685: Quakers in Pennsylvania and West Jersey establish Yearly Meeting, alternating between Philadelphia and Burlington.

1688: Ferry across Delaware River connects Philadelphia and Cooper’s Ferry (later Camden, New Jersey).

1680-90s: Philadelphia becomes chief port on Delaware River for Pennsylvania, West Jersey, and Delaware; older ports in New Castle, Chester, and Burlington become commercial satellites.

1694: Burlington, Gloucester, and Salem counties created in West New Jersey.

1702: East and West New Jersey united as single royal colony.

1755-67: Postal service connects Philadelphia with New York, Boston, Baltimore, and Virginia.

Image credit: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

1770s: Jacob Cooper advertises lots for sale in Town of Camden, opposite Philadelphia; outbreak of war slows development.

1776: George Washington and troops cross Delaware River north of Philadelphia to engage British at Trenton, N. J.

1777: Philadelphia Campaign: Battle of Brandywine (September 11), Paoli Assault (September 20), Battle of Germantown (October 4), Battle of Red Bank (October 22).

1777-78: British occupy Philadelphia; Continental Army camps at Valley Forge.

1780s: Following War for Independence, new counties created in Pennsylvania: Montgomery (1784, from portion of Philadelphia) and Delaware (1789, from portion of Chester).

Image credit: Library of Congress

Capital of the United States
Capital of the United States

1793: During yellow fever epidemic, Germantown, Grays Ferry, and South Jersey provide refuge from Philadelphia; people who flee the city spread epidemic to South Jersey.

1793-95: Lancaster Turnpike, a private toll road, connects Philadelphia and Lancaster.

Image credit: Library Company of Philadelphia

Nineteenth Century Before 1854
Nineteenth Century Before 1854

1800-1820s: Toll highways connect Philadelphia with central Pennsylvania, Baltimore, and New York (via bridge over Delaware at Trenton, 1806).

1800-1820: Incorporation of boroughs in Philadelphia County: Frankford, Northern Liberties, Penn Township, Spring Garden Township, Moyamensing, Kensington. (Southwark previously incorporated, 1760s.)

1805-1838: Bridges built over Schuylkill (shown here, 1842), beginning with “Permanent Bridge” at Market Street, 1805.

1808: Catholic Diocese of Philadelphia created (previously in Diocese of Baltimore); serves Pennsylvania, West and South Jersey, Delaware.

1820: Philadelphia County population exceeds city, U.S. Census shows.

Image credit: Library of Congress

Nineteenth Century Before 1854
Nineteenth Century Before 1854

1825: Completion of Schuylkill Canal allows transportation of anthracite coal from northeast Pennsylvania to wharves on Schuylkill for export.

1830s: Railroads connect Philadelphia with interior Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Baltimore.

1834: Service begins on Pennsylvania “Main Line,” sequence of canals, railroads, tunnels, and inclined planes linking Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

1830s-40s: Portions of Gloucester County, N.J., divided to form Atlantic County (1837) and Camden County (1844).

1840s-50s: New villages develop in Philadelphia County west of the Schuylkill (shown here) and in North/Northeast.

Image credit: Library Company of Philadelphia

Nineteenth Century Before 1854
Nineteenth Century Before 1854

1840s: Steamship lines connect Philadelphia with New York and other East Coast cities.

1840s: Wealthy build country estates, spend summers in resorts including Cape May, N.J., and Yellow Springs in Chester County.

1842: Railroad connects Philadelphia and Pottsville; branch line to Delaware River diverts coal shipping from Schuylkill to Port Richmond on the Delaware.

1846: Telegraph connects Philadelphia to New York and Washington.

Image credit: Library Company of Philadelphia

Nineteenth Century After 1854
Nineteenth Century After 1854

1854: Consolidation extends boundaries of Philadelphia to all of Philadelphia County.

1854: Camden and Atlantic Railroad connects to a new resort area on the Jersey Shore: Atlantic City.

1858: Streetcars introduced, allowing middle class families to move to new streetcar suburbs in West and lower North Philadelphia and in Camden County. (Streetcars electrified, 1892.)

1860s-80s: Railroad suburbs for the wealthy develop along the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad as well as in Chestnut Hill (1880s-1920) and Camden County, N.J. (Merchantville, 1860s; Collingswood, 1880s).

1870s: New housing developments in Camden, such as Cramer Hill, attract skilled workers from Philadelphia who commute to work by ferry.

Image credit: Library of Congress

Twentieth Century Before 1945
Twentieth Century Before 1945

1926: Delaware River Bridge (shown here, later renamed Benjamin Franklin Bridge) links Philadelphia and Camden.

1929: Baldwin Locomotive moves production from Philadelphia to Eddystone, Delaware County.

1929-30s: Center City department stores begin to open suburban branches, including Strawbridge & Clothier in Ardmore (1930) and Jenkintown (1932)

1931: Pennsylvania and New Jersey create Delaware River Joint Commission (reorganized as Delaware River Port Authority, 1952).

Image credit: PhillyHistory.org

Twentieth Century After 1945
Twentieth Century After 1945

Expressways enable commuters to reach new housing developments in Northeast Philadelphia (shown here) and counties of southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and Delaware. Suburbanization and industrial decline produce loss of population and jobs in region’s cities.

1948: Business leaders form Greater Philadelphia Movement to promote growth and redevelopment.

1950: U.S. Census Bureau defines Philadelphia metropolitan area consisting of eight counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey: Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester.

1950-58: Construction of Schuylkill Expressway.

1957-69: New Delaware River bridges: Walt Whitman (1957), Betsy Ross and Commodore Barry (1969).

Image credit: PhillyHistory.org

Twentieth Century After 1945
Twentieth Century After 1945

1959-79: I-95 built through Philadelphia.

1965: South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) formed.

1965-66: Pennsylvania and New Jersey form Delaware Valley Urban Area Compact and Regional Planning Commission.

1969: PATCO Speedline opens from Lindenwold, N.J. (shown here) to Center City Philadelphia.

1983: U.S. Census Bureau designates Philadelphia-Wilmington-Trenton metropolitan area of ten counties in three states; redefined 1993 to exclude Trenton area while adding counties in South Jersey (Cumberland, Atlantic, Cape May).

1994: Philadelphia and Camden designated as bi-state Empowerment Zone, sharing $100 million federal aid for economic development.

Image credit: Photograph by Kristen M. Rigaut

Twenty-First Century
Twenty-First Century

2001: Flight or Fight, study by the Pennsylvania Economy League, calls for action to reverse trends of urban decay, suburban sprawl, and slow economic growth.

2012: Barnes Foundation museum moves to Philadelphia from Merion, Pa.

2014: Construction begins on interchange between I-95 and Pennsylvania Turnpike, the last link necessary for continuous interstate highway from Maine to Florida.

U.S. Census Bureau defines Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area as consisting of eleven counties in three states: Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware in Pennsylvania; Camden, Burlington, Gloucester, and Salem in New Jersey; and New Castle and Cecil in Delaware.

Image credit: Visit Philadelphia

Map: Regional Connections and Impact

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