From its origins as a series of settlements at the edge of the Atlantic World to the age of international air travel, Greater Philadelphia has been a crossroads of global interaction and exchange. With a diverse population from the start, inhabited by Native Americans and then colonized by Dutch, Swedes, Englishmen, Germans, and Africans, the region has been reshaped and reinvigorated by more than three centuries of new waves of immigration. Networks of transportation, communication, travel, trade, and culture link the region to the world.
Philadelphia ranked as one of the nation’s foremost saw manufacturing centers for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By the mid-nineteenth century a number of major saw manufacturers operated in the city, including the world’s largest, Henry Disston’s Keystone Saw Works.
The religious Peace Mission Movement was known for its civil rights activism as well as its 'cultic' qualities. The Divine Lorraine Hotel in North Philadelphia hosted many of the Mission's social welfare activities.
The Electric Factory was opened in 1968 by club promoters, the Spivack brothers. The rock club featured artists such as Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix. After the closing of the original club, a second Electric Factory was opened in 1995. The concert venue eventually joined forces with a concert promotion company to form Live Nation Entertainment.
The history of the Philadelphia Navy Yard has been one of constant struggle, repeatedly staring down imminent closure only to be saved at the last second by stalwart local politicians or a timely military conflict. The Navy Yard, located on League Island, operated for 120 years.
The Old Dutch House in New Castle, Delaware, dates to the seventeenth century and is believed to be one of the oldest houses in Delaware. Henry Hudson, who was employed by the Dutch East India Company, anchored in Delaware Bay in 1609, and claimed the country for the Dutch.
The bounty of the hinterlands helped fuel Philadelphia's progress. Hopewell Furnace, like other iron forges in the region during the colonial and early republic periods, supplied iron necessary for industry.
Greater Philadelphia has had close links to Liberia since free blacks and abolitionists helped colonize Liberia’s founding in the early nineteenth century. In recent times, many Liberians fled violence at home, and for some the escape route led to 'Little Monrovia” along Woodland Avenue near Sixty-Sixth Street.
The central event in the novel, 'The Garies and Their Friends,' is a graphically-rendered race riot, evoking the historical riots of 1834, 1838, 1842, and 1849. One of these riots, the Lombard Street Riot, has a historical marker located at Sixth and Lombard Streets.
The discovery of oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and the drilling of the first successful well in 1859 led to an oil revolution. Soon pipelines emerged as a key to oil transport, and pipeline growth continues today. Some lines reach refineries at Marcus Hook, near the state line between Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Settled by Chinese migrants in the 1870s, Philadelphia’s Chinatown grew over the course of the twentieth century from a small ethnic enclave on the outskirts of Skid Row to a vibrant family community in the heart of Center City. Threatened by urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s, Chinatown residents marshaled the redevelopment process to rebuild and expand their community over the course of the late twentieth century. This legacy of activism continued to inform struggles against gentrification and for affordable housing, education, and community self-determination. While Chinese and other Asian immigrants dispersed throughout the greater Philadelphia area, Chinatown remained as a central touchstone for Asian life in the region.
Pennsylvania Impressionist painting flourished in eastern Pennsylvania in the first half of the twentieth century. Often referred to as the “New Hope School” because artists in Bucks County produced the best-known works, the style was also practiced vigorously in Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, and Lehigh Counties, and key artists of the movement taught at the Pennsylvania […]
Having already captured New York in 1776, British General Sir William Howe devised a campaign to capture Philadelphia in 1777. Howe was able to occupy the city on September 26 of that year. Fort Mifflin, located on Mud Island, was bombarded to open a supply line to the occupied city.
From 1754-89, relations between Pennsylvania and native tribes eroded badly. By 1789, only one enclave remained, as others were pushed westward or killed in fights with settlers. Near Conestoga, Pa., was the site of a massacre by the Paxton Boys.
Forts and other defenses on the Delaware River and, later, along the Atlantic coast guarded Philadelphia and other commercial centers during times of military jeopardy. Fort Mifflin and other surviving forts serve as reminders of the key role forts played in the region's economic, political, and social history.
Through shared economic goals and common values of peace, individual freedom, and cultural openness, the Lenapes and their European allies established the ideals of Delaware Valley society before William Penn received his land grant in 1681. A statue of Lenape leader Tamanend stands at Front and Market Streets.
Although the United States’ involvement in World War I lasted just over a year, the conflict in Europe had a lasting impact on the Philadelphia region. The war created new opportunities for the region's industrial base, including the New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden.
People of African descent have migrated to Philadelphia since the seventeenth century. Although African Americans faced discrimination, disfranchisement, and periodic race riots in the 1800s, the community attracted tens of thousands of people during World War I's Great Migration.
The revival of immigration to Philadelphia and its surrounding region in the early nineteenth century provided one of the most powerful elements in reshaping the city's society. The German Society of Pennsylvania assisted German newcomers in finding jobs and housing.
For more than three centuries Parochial schools in the Philadelphia region have responded to the changing characteristics of the region’s Catholic population.
The religious diversity of Philadelphia led to the creation of specialized institutions of higher learning reflecting each religion's values. Catholic-affiliated schools continue to embrace their religious banner, less so those schools with different affiliations.