Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

North Philadelphia Map

Where exactly North Philadelphia begins and ends is a matter of debate. Even native Philadelphians have difficulty identifying the boundaries of this area of their city with precision. This is likely because so many of the neighborhoods located north, northeast, or northwest of Philadelphia’s center enjoy common histories and developmental patterns and consequently look a great deal alike. Before the 1682 arrival of William Penn in North America, what is now North Philadelphia was covered with thick woods inhabited by Native Americans. Philadelphia’s establishment that same year began the area’s gradual transformation from acres of forests to blocks of homes, factories, churches, universities, and other institutions built to serve the area’s diverse inhabitants. These inhabitants included Native Americans, English colonists, and enslaved Africans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and waves of immigrants hailing from places as varied as America’s southern states, Northern, Southern, and Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries.

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