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This article is about the city in Pennsylvania. For other uses, see Philadelphia (disambiguation).
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Consolidated city-county
City of Philadelphia
From top left, the Philadelphia skyline, a statue of Benjamin Franklin, the Liberty Bell, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia City Hall, and Independence Hall
Flag of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Official seal of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nickname(s): "Philly", "City of Brotherly Love", more...
Motto: "Philadelphia maneto" ("Let brotherly love endure")
Location of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is located in USA
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 39°57′N 75°10′W / 39.950°N 75.167°W / 39.950; -75.167Coordinates: 39°57′N 75°10′W / 39.950°N 75.167°W / 39.950; -75.167
Country  United States of America
Commonwealth  Pennsylvania


Historic colony Province of Pennsylvania
Founded October 27, 1682
Incorporated October 25, 1701
Founded by William Penn
 • Type Mayor–Council
 • Body Philadelphia City Council
 • Mayor Michael Nutter (D)
 • Consolidated city-county 141.6 sq mi (367 km2)
 • Land 134.1[1] sq mi (347.3 km2)
 • Water 7.5 sq mi (19.4 km2)
 • Urban 1,799.5 sq mi (4,660.5 km2)
 • Metro 4,629 sq mi (11,988.6 km2)
Elevation 39 ft (12 m)
Population (2014)[2]
 • Consolidated city-county 1,560,297
 • Rank US: 5th
 • Density 11,635.3/sq mi (4,492.4/km2)
 • Metro 6,051,170 (US: 6th)
 • CSA 7,164,790 (US: 8th)
 • Demonym Philadelphian
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 191xx
Area code(s) 215, 267
FIPS code 42101 (County) [3]
GNIS feature ID 1215531[4]

Philadelphia (/ˌfɪləˈdɛlfiə/) is the largest city in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and the fifth-most-populous in the United States. In the Northeastern United States, at the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill River, Philadelphia is the economic and cultural center of the Delaware Valley. The estimated population in 2014 was 1,560,297.[2][5][6][7][8][9][10]

In 1682, William Penn founded the city to serve as capital of the Pennsylvania Colony.[11] Philadelphia played an instrumental role in the American Revolution as a meeting place for the Founding Fathers of the United States, who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Constitution in 1787. Philadelphia was one of the nation's capitals in the Revolutionary War, and served as temporary U.S. capital while Washington, D.C., was under construction. In the 19th century, Philadelphia became a major industrial center and railroad hub that grew from an influx of European immigrants. It became a prime destination for African-Americans in the Great Migration and surpassed two million occupants by 1950. Based on the similar shifts underway the nation's economy after 1960, Philadelphia experienced a loss of manufacturing companies and/or jobs to lower taxed regions of the USA and often overseas. As a result, the economic base of Philadelphia, which had historically been manufacturing, declined significantly. In addition, consolidation in several American industries (retailing, financial services and health care in particular) reduced the number of companies headquartered in Philadelphia. The economic impact of these changes would, similar to Detroit and Baltimore, reduce Philadelphia's tax base and the resources of local government. Philadelphia struggled through a long period of adjustment to these economic changes, coupled with significant demographic change as wealthier residents moved into the nearby suburbs and more immigrants moved into the city. The city in fact approached bankruptcy in the late 1980s.[12][13] Revitalization began in the 1990s, with gentrification turning around many neighborhoods and reversing its decades-long trend of population loss.

Philadelphia is the center of economic activity in Pennsylvania and is home to seven Fortune 1000 companies. The Philadelphia skyline is growing, with several nationally prominent skyscrapers.[14] The city is known for its arts, culture, and history, attracting over 39 million domestic tourists in 2013.[15] Philadelphia has more outdoor sculptures and murals than any other American city,[16] and Fairmount Park is the largest landscaped urban park in the world.[17] The 67 National Historic Landmarks in the city helped account for the $10 billion generated by tourism.[15] Philadelphia is the birthplace of the United States Marine Corps,[18][19] and is also the home of many U.S. firsts, including the first library (1731),[20] first hospital (1751)[20] and medical school (1765),[21] first Capitol (1777),[20] first stock exchange (1790),[20] first zoo (1874),[22] and first business school (1881).[23]


An 18th century map of Philadelphia.

Before Europeans arrived, the Philadelphia area was home to the Lenape (Delaware) Indians in the village of Shackamaxon.

Europeans came to the Delaware Valley in the early 17th century, with the first settlements founded by the Dutch, who in 1623 built Fort Nassau on the Delaware River opposite the Schuylkill River in what is now Brooklawn, New Jersey. The Dutch considered the entire Delaware River valley to be part of their New Netherland colony. In 1638, Swedish settlers led by renegade Dutch established the colony of New Sweden at Fort Christina (present day Wilmington, Delaware) and quickly spread out in the valley. In 1644, New Sweden supported the Susquehannocks in their military defeat of the English colony of Maryland. In 1648, the Dutch built Fort Beversreede on the west bank of the Delaware, south of the Schuylkill near the present-day Eastwick section of Philadelphia, to reassert their dominion over the area. The Swedes responded by building Fort Nya Korsholm, named New Korsholm after a town that is now in Finland. In 1655, a Dutch military campaign led by New Netherland Director-General Peter Stuyvesant took control of the Swedish colony, ending its claim to independence, although the Swedish and Finnish settlers continued to have their own militia, religion, and court, and to enjoy substantial autonomy under the Dutch. The English conquered the New Netherland colony in 1664, but the situation did not really change until 1682, when the area was included in William Penn's charter for Pennsylvania.

In 1681, in partial repayment of a debt, Charles II of England granted William Penn a charter for what would become the Pennsylvania colony. Despite the royal charter, Penn bought the land from the local Lenape to be on good terms with the Native Americans and ensure peace for his colony.[24] According to legend Penn made a treaty of friendship with Lenape chief Tammany under an elm tree at Shackamaxon, in what is now the city's Fishtown section.[25] Penn named the city Philadelphia, which is Greek for brotherly love (from philos, "love" or "friendship", and adelphos, "brother"). As a Quaker, Penn had experienced religious persecution and wanted his colony to be a place where anyone could worship freely. This tolerance, far more than afforded by most other colonies, led to better relations with the local Native tribes and fostered Philadelphia's rapid growth into America's most important city.[26] Penn planned a city on the Delaware River to serve as a port and place for government. Hoping that Philadelphia would become more like an English rural town instead of a city, Penn laid out roads on a grid plan to keep houses and businesses spread far apart, with areas for gardens and orchards. The city's inhabitants did not follow Penn's plans, as they crowded by the Delaware River, the port, and subdivided and resold their lots.[27] Before Penn left Philadelphia for the last time, he issued the Charter of 1701 establishing it as a city. It became an important trading center, poor at first, but with tolerable living conditions by the 1750s. Benjamin Franklin, a leading citizen, helped improve city services and founded new ones, such as fire protection, a library, and one of the American colonies' first hospitals.

A number of important philosophical societies were formed, which were centers of the city's intellectual life: 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).[28] These worked to develop and finance new industries and attract skilled and knowledgeable immigrants from Europe.

Philadelphia's importance and central location in the colonies made it a natural center for America's revolutionaries. By the 1750s, Philadelphia had surpassed Boston to become the largest city and busiest port in British America, and second in the British Empire, behind London.[29][30] The city hosted the First Continental Congress before the American Revolutionary War; the Second Continental Congress,[31] which signed the United States Declaration of Independence, during the war; and the Constitutional Convention (1787) after the war. Several battles were fought in and near Philadelphia as well.

President's House, Philadelphia. This mansion at 6th & Market Streets served as the presidential mansion of George Washington and John Adams, 1790–1800.

Philadelphia served as the temporary capital of the United States, 1790–1800, while the Federal City was under construction in the District of Columbia.[32] In 1793, the largest yellow fever epidemics in U.S. history killed at least 4,000 and up to 5,000 people in Philadelphia, roughly 10% of the city's population.[33][34]

The state government left Philadelphia in 1799, and the federal government was moved to Washington, DC in 1800 with completion of the White House and Capitol. The city remained the young nation's largest with a population of nearly 50,000 at the turn of the 19th century; it was a financial and cultural center. Before 1800, its free black community founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), the first independent black denomination in the country, and the first black Episcopal Church. The free black community also established many schools for its children, with the help of Quakers. New York City soon surpassed Philadelphia in population, but with the construction of roads, canals, and railroads, Philadelphia became the first major industrial city in the United States.

Opening day ceremonies at the Centennial Exhibition at Memorial Hall, 1876, first World's Fair in the US.

Throughout the 19th century, Philadelphia had a variety of industries and businesses, the largest being textiles. Major corporations in the 19th and early 20th centuries included the Baldwin Locomotive Works, William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Company, and the Pennsylvania Railroad.[35] Industry, along with the U.S. Centennial, was celebrated in 1876 with the Centennial Exposition, the first official World's Fair in the United States. Immigrants, mostly Irish and German, settled in Philadelphia and the surrounding districts. The rise in population of the surrounding districts helped lead to the Act of Consolidation of 1854, which extended the city limits of Philadelphia from the 2 square miles of present-day Center City to the roughly 130 square miles of Philadelphia County.[36][37]

These immigrants were largely responsible for the first general strike in North America in 1835, in which workers in the city won the ten-hour workday. The city was a destination for thousands of Irish immigrants fleeing the Great Famine in the 1840s; housing for them was developed south of South Street, and was later occupied by succeeding immigrants. They established a network of Catholic churches and schools, and dominated the Catholic clergy for decades. Anti-Irish, anti-Catholic Nativist riots had erupted in Philadelphia in 1844. In the latter half of the century, immigrants from Russia, Eastern Europe and Italy; and African Americans from the southern U.S. settled in the city.[38] Between 1880 and 1930, the African-American population of Philadelphia increased from 31,699 to 219,559.[39][40] Twentieth-century black newcomers were part of the Great Migration out of the rural South to northern and midwestern industrial cities.

Eighth and Market Streets, 1840

In the American Civil War, Philadelphia was represented by the Washington Grays (Philadelphia).

8th and Market Street, showing the Strawbridge and Clothier department store, 1910s

By the 20th century, Philadelphia had become known as "corrupt and contented", with a complacent population and an entrenched Republican political machine.[41] The first major reform came in 1917 when outrage over the election-year murder of a police officer led to the shrinking of the Philadelphia City Council from two houses to just one.[42] 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, in post-World War I unrest, as recent immigrants competed with blacks for jobs. In the 1920s, the public flouting of Prohibition laws, mob violence, and police involvement in illegal activities led to the appointment of Brigadier General Smedley Butler of the U.S. Marine Corps as director of public safety, but political pressure prevented any long-term success in fighting crime and corruption.[43]

In 1940, non-Hispanic whites constituted 86.8% of the city's population.[44] The population peaked at more than two million residents in 1950, then began to decline with the restructuring of industry, which led to the loss of many middle-class union jobs. In addition, suburbanization had been drawing off many of the wealthier residents to outlying railroad commuting towns and newer housing. Revitalization and gentrification of neighborhoods began in the late 1970s and continues into the 21st century, with much of the development in the Center City and University City areas of the city. After many of the old manufacturers and businesses left Philadelphia or shut down, the city started attracting service businesses and began to more aggressively market itself as a tourist destination. Glass-and-granite skyscrapers were built in Center City. Historic areas such as Independence National Historical Park located in Old City and Society Hill were renovated during the reformist mayoral era of the 1950s through the 1980s. They are now among the most desirable living areas of Center City. This has slowed the city's 40-year population decline after it lost nearly one-quarter of its population.[45][46]


A simulated-color image of Philadelphia and the Delaware River, taken by NASA's Landsat 7 satellite


Philadelphia is at 39° 57′ north latitude and 75° 10′ west longitude, and the 40th parallel north passes through the northern parts of the city. The city encompasses 142.6 square miles (369.3 km2), of which 135.1 square miles (349.9 km2) is land and 7.6 square miles (19.7 km2), or 5.29%, is water. Bodies of water include the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, and Cobbs, Wissahickon, and Pennypack creeks.

The lowest point is 10 feet (3 m) above sea level, while the highest point is in Chestnut Hill, about 445 feet (136 m) above sea level (near the intersection of Germantown Avenue and Bethlehem Pike).[47]

Philadelphia sits on the Fall Line that separates the Atlantic Coastal Plain from the Piedmont.[48] The rapids on the Schuylkill River at East Falls were inundated by the completion of the Fairmount Dam.[49]

The city is the seat of its own county. The adjacent counties are Montgomery to the north; Bucks to the northeast; Burlington County, New Jersey, to the east; Camden County, New Jersey, to the southeast; Gloucester County, New Jersey, to the south; and Delaware County to the west.


Panoramic view of the growing Center City Philadelphia skyline, viewed from Camden, New Jersey, across the Delaware River. Comcast Center and the spired One Liberty Place are recognizable as the two tallest skyscrapers in this image.
Panoramic view of the Philadelphia skyline in 2009

City planning

The heart of Logan Square at night.

Philadelphia's central city was created in the 17th century following the plan by William Penn's surveyor Thomas Holme. Center City is structured with long straight streets running east-west and north-south forming a grid pattern. The original city plan was designed to allow for easy travel and to keep residences separated by open space that would help prevent the spread of fire.[50] The Delaware River and Schuylkill Rivers served as early boundaries between which the city's early street plan was kept within. In addition, Penn planned the creation of five public parks in the city which were renamed in 1824[50] (in parenthesis): Centre Square, North East Publick Square (Franklin Square), Northwest Square (Logan Square), Southwest Square (Rittenhouse Square), and Southeast Square (Washington Square).[51] Center City has grown into the second-most populated downtown area in the United States, after Midtown Manhattan in New York City, with an estimated 183,240 residents in 2015.[52]

Philadelphia's neighborhoods are divided into large sections—North, Northeast, Northwest, West, South and Southwest Philadelphia—all of which surround Center City, which corresponds closely with the city's limits before consolidation in 1854. Each of these large areas contains numerous neighborhoods, some of whose boundaries derive from the boroughs, townships, and other communities that made up Philadelphia County before their absorption into the city.[53]

Elfreth's Alley, "Our nation's oldest residential street," dating to 1702.[54]

The City Planning Commission, tasked with guiding growth and development of the city, has divided the city into 18 planning districts as part of the Philadelphia2035 physical development plan.[55][56] Much of the city's 1980 zoning code was overhauled from 2007-2012 as part of a joint effort between Major John F. Street and Michael Nutter. The zoning changes were intended to rectify incorrect zoning mapping that would streamline future community preferences and development, which the city forecasts an additional 100,000 residents and 40,000 jobs to be added to Philadelphia in 2035.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority is the largest landlord in Pennsylvania. Established in 1937, it is the nation's fourth-largest housing authority, housing about 84,000 people and employing 1,250. In 2013, its budget was $371 million.[57] The Philadelphia Parking Authority works to ensure adequate parking for city residents, businesses and visitors.[58]


Christ Church, a sophisticated example of Georgian architecture.[59]

Philadelphia's architectural history dates back to Colonial times and includes a wide range of styles. The earliest structures were of logs construction, but brick structures were common by 1700. During the 18th century, the cityscape was dominated by Georgian architecture, including Independence Hall and Christ Church.

Center City Philadelphia, showing the One Liberty Place skyscraper behind City Hall and their contrast in architectural styles.
Georgian style homes in Society Hill.

In the first decades of the 19th century, Federal architecture and Greek Revival architecture were dominated by Philadelphia architects such as Benjamin Latrobe, William Strickland, John Haviland, John Notman, Thomas U. Walter, and Samuel Sloan.[60] Frank Furness is considered Philadelphia's greatest architect of the second half of the 19th century, but his contemporaries included John McArthur, Jr., Addison Hutton, Wilson Eyre, the Wilson Brothers, and Horace Trumbauer. In 1871, construction began on the Second Empire-style Philadelphia City Hall. The Philadelphia Historical Commission was created in 1955 to preserve the cultural and architectural history of the city. The commission maintains the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, adding historic buildings, structures, sites, objects and districts as it sees fit.[61]

In 1932, Philadelphia became home to the first International Style skyscraper in the United States, The PSFS Building, designed by George Howe and William Lescaze. It is the United States' first modern skyscraper and considered the most important one built in the first part of the 20th century.

The 548 ft (167 m) City Hall remained the tallest building in the city until 1987 when One Liberty Place was constructed. Numerous glass and granite skyscrapers were built in Philadelphia's Center City from the late 1980s onwards. In 2007, the Comcast Center surpassed One Liberty Place to become the city's tallest building. The Comcast Innovation and Technology Center is under construction in Center City and is planned to reach a height of 1,121 feet (342 meters); upon completion, the tower is expected to be the tallest skyscraper in the United States outside of New York City and Chicago.[14]

For much of Philadelphia's history, the typical home has been the row house. The row house was introduced to the United States via Philadelphia in the early 19th century and, for a time, row houses built elsewhere in the United States were known as "Philadelphia rows".[60] A variety of row houses are found throughout the city, from Victorian-style homes in North Philadelphia to twin row houses in West Philadelphia. While newer homes are scattered throughout the city, much of the housing is from the early 20th century or older. The great age of the homes has created numerous problems, including blight and vacant lots in many parts of the city, while other neighborhoods such as Society Hill, which has the largest concentration of 18th-century architecture in the United States, have been rehabilitated and gentrified.[62][63]


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

Under the Köppen climate classification, Philadelphia falls in the northern periphery of the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen Cfa).[64] Summers are typically hot and muggy, fall and spring are generally mild, and winter is cold. Snowfall is highly variable, with some winters bringing only light snow and others bringing several major snowstorms, with the normal seasonal snowfall standing at 22.4 in (57 cm); snow in November or April is rare, and a sustained snow cover is rare.[65] Precipitation is generally spread throughout the year, with eight to twelve wet days per month,[66] at an average annual rate of 41.5 inches (1,050 mm), but historically ranging from 29.31 in (744 mm) in 1922 to 64.33 in (1,634 mm) in 2011.[65] The most rain recorded in one day occurred on July 28, 2013, when 8.02 in (204 mm) fell at Philadelphia International Airport.[65]

The January daily average is 33.0 °F (0.6 °C),[67] though, in a normal winter, the temperature frequently rises to 50 °F (10 °C) during thaws and dips to 10 °F (−12 °C) for 2 or 3 nights.[67] July averages 78.1 °F (25.6 °C),[67] although heat waves accompanied by high humidity and heat indices are frequent; highs reach or exceed 90 °F (32 °C) on 27 days of the year. The average window for freezing temperatures is November 6 thru April 2,[65] allowing a growing season of 217 days. Early fall and late winter are generally dry; February's average of 2.64 inches (67 mm) makes it the area's driest month. The dewpoint in the summer averages between 59.1 °F (15 °C) to 64.5 °F (18 °C).[65]

Seasonal snowfall accumulation has ranged from trace amounts in 1972–73 to 78.7 inches (200 cm) in the winter of 2009–10.[65][a] The city's heaviest single-storm snowfall, at 30.7 in (78 cm), occurred in January 1996.

The highest recorded temperature was 106 °F (41 °C) on August 7, 1918, but 100 °F (38 °C)+ temperatures are uncommon.[68][b] The lowest officially recorded temperature was −11 °F (−24 °C) on February 9, 1934,[68] but with the last such occurrence being January 19, 1994,[65] temperatures at or below the 0 °F (−18 °C) mark are rare. The record low maximum is 5 °F (−15 °C) on February 10, 1899 and December 30, 1880, while the record high minimum is 83 °F (28 °C) on July 23, 2011 and July 24, 2010.

In the American Lung Association 2015 State of the Air report, Philadelphia County received an ozone grade of F and a 24-hour particle pollution rating of C. The county passed the annual particle pollution rating.[69]


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1683* 600 —    
1731* 12,000 +1900.0%
1790 28,522 +137.7%
1800 41,220 +44.5%
1810 53,722 +30.3%
1820 63,802 +18.8%
1830 80,462 +26.1%
1840 93,665 +16.4%
1850 121,376 +29.6%
1860 565,529 +365.9%
1870 674,022 +19.2%
1880 847,170 +25.7%
1890 1,046,964 +23.6%
1900 1,293,697 +23.6%
1910 1,549,008 +19.7%
1920 1,823,779 +17.7%
1930 1,950,961 +7.0%
1940 1,931,334 −1.0%
1950 2,071,605 +7.3%
1960 2,002,512 −3.3%
1970 1,948,609 −2.7%
1980 1,688,210 −13.4%
1990 1,585,577 −6.1%
2000 1,517,550 −4.3%
2010 1,526,006 +0.6%
2014 1,560,297 +2.2%
Populations for City of Philadelphia, not for Philadelphia County. Population for Philadelphia County was 54,388 (including 42,520 urban) in 1790; 81,009 (including 69,403 urban) in 1800; 111,210 (including 91,874 urban) in 1810; 137,097 (including 112,772 urban) in 1820; 188,797 (including 161,410 urban) in 1830; 258,037 (including 220,423 urban) in 1840; and 408,762 (including 340,045 urban) in 1850. Under Act of Consolidation, 1854, City of Philadelphia absorbed the various districts, boroughs, townships, other suburbs, and remaining rural area in Philadelphia County as the consolidated City and County of Philadelphia.
Source: [2][73][74][75][76] [77]

According to the 2014 United States Census estimates, there were 1,560,297 people residing in the City of Philadelphia,[2] representing a 2.2% increase since 2010. From the 1960s up until 2006, the city's population declined year after year. It eventually reached a low of 1,488,710 residents in 2006 before beginning to rise again. Since 2006, Philadelphia added 71,587 residents in eight years. A study done by the city projected that the population would increase to about 1,630,000 residents by 2035, an increase of about 100,000 from 2010.[78]

The racial makeup of the city in 2013 was 45.5% White (36.3% Non-Hispanic), 44.2% Black or African American, 0.8% Native American and Alaska Native, 6.9% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 2.4% Two or More Races, and 13.3% were Hispanic or Latino.[79][80]

Census Racial composition 2010[81] 2000 1990 1980[82] 1970[82]
White (includes White Hispanics) 41.8% 45.0% 53.5% 58.2% 65.6%
—Non-Hispanic White 36.9% 42.5% 52.1% 57.1% 63.8[83]
Black or African American 43.6% 43.2% 37.8% 39.9% 33.6%
—Non-Hispanic Black 42.2% 42.6% 39.3% 37.5% 33.3%[83]
Native American 0.5% 0.3% 0.2% 0.1% 0.1%
Asian 6.3% 4.5% 2.7% 1.1% 0.3%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Some other race 5.9% 4.8% 3.7% 2.7% 0.4%
Two or more races 2.8% 2.2% n/a[84] n/a[84] n/a
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 12.3% 8.5% 5.6% 3.8% 2.4%[83]

In comparison, the 2010 Census Redistricting Data indicated that the racial makeup of the city was 661,839 (43.4%) African American, 626,221 (41.0%) White, 6,996 (0.5%) Native American, 96,405 (6.3%) Asian (2.0% Chinese, 1.2% Indian, 0.9% Vietnamese, 0.6% Cambodian, 0.4% Korean, 0.3% Filipino, 0.2% Pakistani, 0.1% Indonesian), 744 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 90,731 (5.9%) from other races, and 43,070 (2.8%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 187,611 persons (12.3%); 8.0% of Philadelphia is Puerto Rican, 1.0% Dominican, 1.0% Mexican, 0.3% Cuban, and 0.3% Colombian.[85] The racial breakdown of Philadelphia's Hispanic/Latino population was 63,636 (33.9%) White, 17,552 (9.4%) African American, 3,498 (1.9%) Native American, 884 (0.47%) Asian, 287 (0.15%) Pacific Islander, 86,626 (46.2%) from other races, and 15,128 (8.1%) from two or more races.[81] The five largest European ancestries reported in the 2010 United States Census Census included Irish (12.5%), Italian (8.4%), German (8.1%), Polish (3.6%), and English (3.0%).[86]

According to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, 68% of the population of the city identified themselves as Christians, with 41% professing attendance at a variety of churches that could be considered Protestant, and 26% professing Roman Catholic beliefs.[87][88] while 24% claim no religious affiliation. The same study says that other religions (including Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism) collectively make up about 8% of the population

"Leacht Quimhneachain Na Gael", Irish famine memorial located in Penn's Landing, honoring Philadelphia's large Irish community making up 14.2% of the city's population.[89]

The average population density was 11,457 people per square mile (4,405.4/km²). The Census reported that 1,468,623 people (96.2% of the population) lived in households, 38,007 (2.5%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 19,376 (1.3%) were institutionalized.[81] In 2013, the city reported having 668,247 total housing units, down slightly from 670,171 housing units in 2010. As of 2013, 87 percent of housing units were occupied, while 13 percent were vacant, a slight change from 2010 where 89.5 percent of units were occupied, or 599,736 and 10.5 percent were vacant, or 70,435.[81][90] Of the city's residents, 32 percent reported having no vehicles available while 23 percent had two or more vehicles available, as of 2013.[90]

In 2010, 24.9 percent of households reported having children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.3 percent were married couples living together and 22.5 percent had a female householder with no husband present, 6.0 percent had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.2 percent were non-families. The city reported 34.1 percent of all households were made up of individuals while 10.5 percent had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.20.[81] In 2013, the percentage of women who gave birth in the previous 12 months who were unmarried was 56 percent. Of Philadelphia's adults, 31 percent were married or lived as a couple, 55 percent were not married, 11 percent were divorced or separated, and 3 percent were widowed.[90]

According to the Census Bureau, the median household income in 2013 was $36,836, down 7.9 percent from 2008 when the median household income was $40,008 (in 2013 dollars). For comparison, the median household income among metropolitan areas was $60,482, down 8.2 percent in the same period, and the national median household income was $55,250, down 7.0 percent from 2008.[90] The city's wealth disparity is evident when neighborhoods are compared. Residents in Society Hill had a median household income of $93,720 while residents in one of North Philadelphia's districts reported the lowest median household income, $14,185.[90]

During the last decade, Philadelphia experienced a large shift in its age profile. In 2000, the city's population pyramid had a largely stationary shape. In 2013, the city took on an expansive pyramid shape, with an increase in the three millennial age groups, 20 to 24, 25 to 29, and 30 to 34. The city's 25- to 29-year-old age group was the city's largest age cohort.[90] According to the 2010 Census, 343,837 (22.5%) were under the age of 18; 203,697 (13.3%) from 18 to 25; 434,385 (28.5%) from 25 to 44; 358,778 (23.5%) from 45 to 64; and 185,309 (12.1%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.5 years. For every 100 females there were 89.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.7 males.[81] The city had 22,018 births in 2013, down from a peak 23,689 births in 2008. Philadelphia's death rate was at its lowest in at least a half-century, 13,691 deaths in 2013.[90] Another factor attributing to the population increase is Philadelphia's immigration rate. In 2013, 12.7 percent of residents were foreign-born, just shy of the national average, 13.1 percent.[90]

Italian Market, representing South Philadelphia's Italian heritage.[91]

Irish, Italians, Polish, Germans, English, and Greeks are the largest ethnic European groups in the city.[86] Philadelphia has the second-largest Irish and Italian populations in the United States, after New York City. South Philadelphia remains one of the largest Italian neighborhoods in the country and is home to the Italian Market. The Pennsport neighborhood and Gray's Ferry section of South Philadelphia, home to many Mummer clubs, are well known as Irish neighborhoods. The Kensington section, Port Richmond, and Fishtown have historically been heavily Irish and Polish. Port Richmond is well known in particular as the center of the Polish immigrant and Polish-American community in Philadelphia, and it remains a common destination for Polish immigrants. Northeast Philadelphia, although known for its Irish and Irish-American population, is also home to a large Jewish and Russian population. Mount Airy in Northwest Philadelphia also contains a large Jewish community, while nearby Chestnut Hill is historically known as an Anglo-Saxon Protestant stronghold.

There has also been an increase of yuppie, bohemian, and hipster types particularly around Center City, the neighborhood of Northern Liberties, and in the neighborhoods around the city's universities, such as near Temple in North Philadelphia and particularly near Drexel and University of Pennsylvania in West Philadelphia. Philadelphia is also home to a significant gay and lesbian population. Philadelphia's Gayborhood, which is located near Washington Square, is home to a large concentration of gay and lesbian friendly businesses, restaurants, and bars.[93]

The African American population in Philadelphia is the third-largest in the country, after New York City and Chicago. Historically, West Philadelphia and North Philadelphia were largely black neighborhoods, but many are leaving these areas in favor of the Northeast and Southwest sections of Philadelphia. There is a higher proportion of Muslims in the African American population than most cities in America. West Philadelphia also has significant Caribbean and African populations.

The Puerto Rican population in Philadelphia is the second-largest after New York City, and the second fastest-growing after Orlando.[86][94] There are large Puerto Rican and Dominican populations in North Philadelphia and the Northeast, as well as a significant Mexican population in South Philadelphia.

Philadelphia has significant Asian populations mainly hailing from countries like India, China, Vietnam, and South Korea. Chinatown and the Northeast have the largest Asian presences, with a large Korean community in Olney, Philadelphia. South Philadelphia is also home to large Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Chinese communities. It has the fifth largest Muslim population among American cities.[95]


As of 2010, 79.12% (1,112,441) of Philadelphia residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 9.72% (136,688) spoke Spanish, 1.64% (23,075) Chinese, 0.89% (12,499) Vietnamese, 0.77% (10,885) Russian, 0.66% (9,240) French, 0.61% (8,639) other Asian languages, 0.58% (8,217) African languages, 0.56% (7,933) Cambodian (Mon-Khmer), and Italian was spoken as a main language by 0.55% (7,773) of the population over the age of five. In total, 20.88% (293,544) of Philadelphia's population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English.[96]


Top publicly traded companies
in Philadelphia for 2014
Corporation Rank
Comcast 44
Aramark 209
Crown Holdings 313
FMC 581
Urban Outfitters 715
Chemtura 775
Pep Boys 945
Rankings for fiscal year ended 2014.
Source: Fortune[97]

Philadelphia is the center of economic activity in Pennsylvania with the headquarters of seven Fortune 1000 companies located within city limits. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Philadelphia area had a total gross metropolitan product of $347 billion in 2010, the seventh-largest metropolitan economy in the United States.[98] Philadelphia was rated by the GaWC5 as a 'Beta+ City' in its categorization of world cities.[99]

Philadelphia's economic sectors include information technology, manufacturing, oil refining, food processing, health care, biotechnology, tourism, and financial services. Financial activities account for the largest sector of the metropolitan are's economy, and it is one of the largest health education and research centers in the United States.

Philadelphia Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the United States.

The city is home to the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and some of the area's largest companies including cable television and internet provider Comcast, insurance companies Colonial Penn, CIGNA, Independence Blue Cross, energy company Sunoco, food services company Aramark and Crown, chemical makers Rohm and Haas and FMC, pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, and automotive parts retailer Pep Boys.

Philadelphia's an annualized unemployment rate was 7.8% in 2014, down from 10.0%the previous year.[90] This is higher than the national average of 6.2%. Similarly, the rate of new jobs added to the city's economy lagged behind the national job growth. In 2014, about 8,800 jobs were added to the city's economy. Sectors with the largest number of jobs added were in education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services. Declines were seen in the city's manufacturing and government sectors.[90]

While about 31.9% of the city's population is not in the labor force, the city's largest employers are the federal and city governments, respectively. Philadelphia's largest private employer is the University of Pennsylvania followed by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.[90] A study commissioned by the city's government projected 40,000 jobs to be added to the city by 2035, raising the city's 2010 number of jobs from 675,000 total to an estimated 715,000 jobs.[78]

Philadelphia's history attracts many tourists, with the Independence National Historical Park (which includes the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and other historical sites) receiving over 3.6 million visitors in 2014.[100] The Greater Philadelphia region was visited by 39 million people in 2013 generating $10 billion in economic impact.[15]


Philadelphia is home to many national historical sites that relate to the founding of the United States. Independence National Historical Park is the center of these historical landmarks being one of the country's 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the Liberty Bell are the city's most famous attractions. Other historic sites include homes for Edgar Allan Poe, Betsy Ross, and Thaddeus Kosciuszko, early government buildings like the First and Second Banks of the United States, Fort Mifflin, and the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church.[101] Philadelphia alone has 67 National Historic Landmarks, the third most of any city in the country.[102]

Philadelphia's major science museums include the Franklin Institute, which contains the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial; the Academy of Natural Sciences; the Mütter Museum; and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. History museums include the National Constitution Center, the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia History, the National Museum of American Jewish History, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the state of Pennsylvania and The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania and Eastern State Penitentiary. Philadelphia is home to the United States' first zoo[103] and hospital,[104] as well as Fairmount Park, one of America's oldest and largest urban parks.[105]

The city is home to important archival repositories, including the Library Company of Philadelphia, established in 1731, and the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, founded in 1814. The Presbyterian Historical Society, the country's oldest continuous denominational historical society, is also located there.


Main article: Philadelphia English

The Philadelphia dialect, which is spread throughout the Delaware Valley and South Jersey, is part of Mid-Atlantic American English, and as such it is identical in many ways to the Baltimore dialect. Unlike the Baltimore dialect, however, the Philadelphia accent also shares many similarities with the New York accent. Thanks to over a century of linguistics data collected by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia dialect under sociolinguist William Labov has been one of the best-studied forms of American English.[106][107][108]


Walnut Street Theatre, the oldest continuously operating theatre in the English-speaking world and the oldest in the United States.

The city contains many art museums, such as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Rodin Museum, which holds the largest collection of work by Auguste Rodin outside of France. The city's major art museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is one of the largest art museums in the United States. Its long flight of steps to the main entrance became famous after the film Rocky (1976).[109]

Philadelphia Museum of Art, amongst the largest art museums in the United States.[110][111]

The city is home to the Philadelphia Sketch Club, one of the country's oldest artists' clubs, and The Plastic Club, started by women excluded from the Sketch Club. It has a profusion of art galleries, many of which participate in the First Friday event. The first Friday of every month, galleries in Old City are open late. Annual events include film festivals and parades, the most famous being the New Year's Day Mummers Parade.

Areas such as South Street and Old City have a vibrant night life. The Avenue of the Arts in Center City contains many restaurants and theaters, such as the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which is home to the Philadelphia Orchestra, generally considered one of the top five orchestras in the United States, and the Academy of Music, the nation's oldest continually operating opera house, home to the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet.[109] The Wilma Theatre and Philadelphia Theatre Company have new buildings constructed in the last decade on the avenue. They produce a variety of new works. Several blocks to the east are the Walnut Street Theatre, America's oldest theatre and the largest subscription theater in the world; as well as the Lantern Theatre at St. Stephens Church, one of a number of smaller venues.

Philadelphia has more public art than any other American city.[112] In 1872, the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) was created, the first private association in the United States dedicated to integrating public art and urban planning.[113] In 1959, lobbying by the Artists Equity Association helped create the Percent for Art ordinance, the first for a U.S. city.[114] The program, which has funded more than 200 pieces of public art, is administered by the Philadelphia Office of Arts and Culture, the city's art agency.[115]

Academy of Music, home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, 1900-2001
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the nation's oldest art school and art museum

Philadelphia has more murals than any other U.S. city, thanks in part to the 1984 creation of the Department of Recreation's Mural Arts Program, which seeks to beautify neighborhoods and provide an outlet for graffiti artists. The program has funded more than 2,800 murals by professional, staff and volunteer artists and educated more than 20,000 youth in underserved neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.[116]

Philadelphia artists have had a prominent national role in popular music. In the 1970s, Philadelphia soul influenced the music of that and later eras. On July 13, 1985, Philadelphia hosted the American end of the Live Aid concert at John F. Kennedy Stadium. The city reprised this role for the Live 8 concert, bringing some 700,000 people to the Ben Franklin Parkway on July 2, 2005.[117] Philadelphia is home to the world-renowned Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale, which has performed its music all over the world. Dr. Robert G. Hamilton, founder of the choir, is a notable native Philadelphian. The Philly Pops is another famous Philadelphia music group. The city has played a major role in the development and support of American rock music and rap music. Hip-hop/Rap artists such as The Roots, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, The Goats, Freeway, Schoolly D, Eve, and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes hail from the city.


Pat's Steaks in the foreground and Geno's Steaks in the background

The city is known for its hoagies, scrapple, soft pretzels, water ice, Irish potato candy, Tastykake, and is home to the cheesesteak, developed by German and Italian immigrants. Philadelphia boasts a number of cheesesteak establishments, however two locations in South Philadelphia are perhaps the most famous among tourists: Pat's King of Steaks and its across the street rival Geno's Steaks.

Its high-end restaurants include Morimoto, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's first restaurant, Vetri, famous on the East Coast for its take on Northern Italian cuisine, and Lacroix, a staple restaurant situated in Rittenhouse Square. Italian specialties have been supplemented by many new Vietnamese and other Asian restaurants, both budget and high-end.

McGillin's Olde Ale House, located on Drury Street in Center City, is the oldest continuously operated tavern in the city.[118]

Philadelphia is also home to a landmark eatery founded in 1892, the Reading Terminal Market. The enclosed public market hosts over a hundred merchants offering Pennsylvania Dutch specialties, artisan cheese and meat, locally grown groceries, and specialty and ethnic foods.[119]


Philadelphia's professional sports teams date at least to the 1860 founding of baseball's Athletics. The city is one of 12 U.S. cities to have all four major sports: the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League of Major League Baseball, the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League, the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, and the Philadelphia 76ers in the National Basketball Association.

The Philadelphia metro area is also home of the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. The Union play their home games at PPL Park, a soccer-specific stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia began play in MLS in 2010, after beating several other cities in competition for the rights to an MLS expansion franchise.

The city's professional teams went without a championship from 1983, when the 76ers won the NBA Championship, until 2008, when the Phillies won the World Series. In 2004, ESPN ranked Philadelphia second on its list of The Fifteen Most Tortured Sports Cities.[120] The failure was sometimes attributed in jest to the "Curse of Billy Penn." The sports fans of Philadelphia are known for being referred to as the "Meanest Fans in America".[121]

The Flyers play at the Wells Fargo Center

Major-sport professional sports teams that originated in Philadelphia but ultimately moved to other cities include the Golden State Warriors basketball team and the Oakland Athletics baseball team.

Philadelphia is also the home city of the Philadelphia Spinners, a professional ultimate team that is part of the American Ultimate Disc League. They are one of the original eight teams of the league that began in April 2012 and play their home games at the University of Pennsylvania.

Rowing has been popular in Philadelphia since the 18th century.[122] Boathouse Row is a symbol of Philadelphia's rich rowing history, and each Big Five member has its own boathouse.[123] Philadelphia hosts numerous local and collegiate rowing clubs and competitions, including the annual Dad Vail Regatta, the largest intercollegiate rowing event in the U.S, the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, and the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta, all of which are held on the Schuylkill River.[124][125][126] The regattas are hosted and organized by the Schuylkill Navy, an association of area rowing clubs that has produced numerous Olympic rowers.[127]

Historic Boathouse Row at night on the Schuylkill, an enduring symbol of Philadelphia's rich rowing history.

Philadelphia is home to professional, semi-professional and elite amateur teams in cricket, rugby league (Philadelphia Fight), rugby union and other sports. Major sporting events in the city include the Penn Relays, Philadelphia Marathon, Broad Street Run, and the Philadelphia International Championship bicycle race. The Collegiate Rugby Championship is played every June at PPL Park; the CRC is broadcast live on NBC and regularly draws attendances of 18,000.

Philadelphia is home to the Philadelphia Big 5, a group of five Division I college basketball programs. The Big 5 are Saint Joseph's University, University of Pennsylvania, La Salle University, Temple University, and Villanova University. The sixth NCAA Division I school in Philadelphia is Drexel University. At least one of the teams is competitive nearly every year[vague] and at least one team has made the NCAA tournament for the past four decades.[which?]

Club League Sport Venue Attendance Founded Championships
Philadelphia Eagles NFL American Football Lincoln Financial Field 69,144 1933 1948, 1949, 1960
Philadelphia Phillies MLB Baseball Citizens Bank Park 29,924 1883 1980, 2008
Philadelphia Flyers NHL Ice Hockey Wells Fargo Center 19,786 1967 1973–74, 1974–75
Philadelphia Union MLS Soccer PPL Park 18,053 2010 none
Philadelphia 76ers NBA Basketball Wells Fargo Center 13,869 1963 1966–67, 1982–83
Philadelphia Soul AFL Arena Football Wells Fargo Center 9,000[128] 2004 2008


Main article: Fairmount Park
Fairmount Park, ca. 1900

The total parkland amounts to about 10,334 acres (41.82 km2).[129] Philadelphia's largest park, Fairmount Park, encompasses 9,200 acres (37 km2) of this parkland and includes 63 neighborhood and regional parks.[130] The largest tract of Fairmount Park is on the west side of the city along the Schuylkill River and Wissahickon Creek and includes the Philadelphia Zoo.

The total expenditures of the park in 2005 were $164 million. Fairmount Park is the world's largest landscaped urban park.[17]

Law and government

City Hall, Philadelphia's tallest building until 1987.

From a governmental perspective, Philadelphia County is a legal nullity, as all county functions were assumed by the city in 1952, which has been coterminous with the county since 1854.

Philadelphia's 1952 Home Rule Charter was written by the City Charter Commission, which was created by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in an Act of April 21, 1949, and a city ordinance of June 15, 1949. The existing City Council received a proposed draft on February 14, 1951, and the electors approved it in an election held April 17, 1951.[131] The first elections under the new Home Rule Charter were held in November 1951, and the newly elected officials took office in January 1952.[132]

The city uses the strong-mayor version of the mayor-council form of government, which is headed by one mayor, in whom executive authority is vested. Elected at-large, the mayor is limited to two consecutive four-year terms under the city's home rule charter, but can run for the position again after an intervening term. The Mayor is Michael Nutter, who replaced John Street, who served two terms from 1999 to January 2008. Nutter, as all Philadelphia mayors have been since 1952, is a member of the Democratic Party, which tends to dominate local politics so thoroughly that the Democratic Mayoral primary is often more widely covered than the general election. The legislative branch, the Philadelphia City Council, consists of ten council members representing individual districts and seven members elected at large. Democrats currently hold 14 seats, with Republicans representing two allotted at-large seats for the minority party, as well as the Northeast-based Tenth District. The current council president is Darrell Clarke.


The Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas (First Judicial District) is the trial court of general jurisdiction for Philadelphia, hearing felony-level criminal cases and civil suits above the minimum jurisdictional limit of $7000 (excepting small claims cases valued between $7000 and $12000 and landlord-tenant issues heard in the Municipal Court) under its original jurisdiction; it also has appellate jurisdiction over rulings from the Municipal and Traffic Courts and over decisions of certain Pennsylvania state agencies (e.g. the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board). It has 90 legally trained judges elected by the voters. It is funded and operated largely by city resources and employees.[133] The current District Attorney is Seth Williams, a Democrat. The last Republican to hold the office is Ron Castille, who left in 1991 and is currently the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The Philadelphia Municipal Court handles matters of limited jurisdiction as well as landlord-tenant disputes, appeals from traffic court, preliminary hearings for felony-level offenses, and misdemeanor criminal trials. It has 25 legally trained judges elected by the voters.[134]

Philadelphia Traffic Court is a court of special jurisdiction that hears violations of traffic laws. It has seven judges elected by the voters.[135] As with magisterial district judges, the judges need not be lawyers, but must complete the certifying course and pass the qualifying examination administered by the Minor Judiciary Education Board.[136]

Pennsylvania's three appellate courts also have sittings in Philadelphia. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the court of last resort in the state, regularly hears arguments in Philadelphia City Hall. Also, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania sit in Philadelphia several times a year. Judges for these courts are elected at large. Each court has a prothonotary's office in Philadelphia as well.

Additionally, Philadelphia is home to the federal United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, both of which are housed in the James A. Byrne United States Courthouse.


Presidential election results
Year Republican Democratic
2012 13.97% 96,467 85.25% 588,806
2008 16.33% 117,221 83.01% 595,980
2004 19.3% 130,099 80.4% 542,205
2000 18.0% 100,959 80.0% 449,182
1996 16.0% 85,345 77.5% 412,988
1992 20.9% 133,328 68.2% 434,904
1988 32.5% 219,053 66.6% 449,566
1984 34.6% 267,178 64.9% 501,369
1980 34.0% 244,108 58.7% 421,253
1976 32.0% 239,000 66.3% 494,579
1972 43.4% 340,096 55.1% 431,736
1968 30.0% 254,153 61.8% 525,768
1964 26.2% 239,733 73.4% 670,645
1960 31.8% 291,000 68.0% 622,544

As of December 31, 2009, there were 1,057,038 registered voters in Philadelphia.[137] Registered voters constitute 68.3% of the total population.[138]

From the American Civil War until the mid-20th century, Philadelphia was a bastion of the Republican Party, which arose from the staunch pro-Northern views of Philadelphia residents during and after the war (Philadelphia was chosen as the host city for the first Republican National Convention in 1856). After the Great Depression, Democratic registrations increased, but the city was not carried by Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt in his landslide victory of 1932 (in which Pennsylvania was one of the few states won by Republican Herbert Hoover). Four years later, however, voter turnout surged and the city finally flipped to the Democrats. Roosevelt carried Philadelphia with over 60% of the vote in 1936. The city has remained loyally Democratic in every presidential election since. It is now one of the most Democratic in the country; in 2008, Democrat Barack Obama drew 83% of the city's vote. Obama's win was even greater in 2012, capturing 85% of the vote.

Philadelphia once comprised six congressional districts. However, as a result of the city's declining population, it now has only four: the 1st district, represented by Bob Brady; the 2nd, represented by Chaka Fattah; the 8th, represented by Mike Fitzpatrick; and the 13th, represented by Brendan Boyle. All but Fitzpatrick are Democrats. Although they are usually swamped by Democrats in city, state and national elections, Republicans still have some support in the area, primarily in the northeast. A Republican represented a significant portion of Philadelphia in the House as late as 1983, and Sam Katz ran competitive mayoral races as the Republican nominee in both 1999 and 2003.

Pennsylvania's longest-serving Senator,[139] Arlen Specter, was from Philadelphia; he served as a Republican from 1981 and as a Democrat from 2009, losing that party's primary in 2010 and leaving office in January 2011. He was also the city's District Attorney from 1966 to 1974.


Main article: Crime in Philadelphia
Philadelphia Police Department Headquarters known as "The Roundhouse"

Like many American cities, Philadelphia saw a gradual yet pronounced rise in crime in the years following World War II. There were 525 murders in 1990, a rate of 31.5 per 100,000. There were an average of about 600 murders a year for most of the 1990s. The murder count dropped in 2002 to 288, then rose four years later to 406 in 2006 and 392 in 2007.[140] A few years later, Philadelphia began to see a rapid drop in homicides and violent crime. In 2013, there were 246 murders, which is a decrease of over 25% from the previous year, and a decrease of over 44% since 2007.[141] And in 2014, there were 248 homicides, up by one since 2013.[90]

In 2006, Philadelphia's homicide rate of 27.7 per 100,000 people was the highest of the country's 10 most populous cities.[142] In 2012, Philadelphia had the fourth-highest homicide rate among the country's most populous cities. And in 2014, the rate dropped to 16.0 homicides per 100,000 residents placing Philadelphia as the sixth-highest city in the country.[90]

In 2004, there were 7,513.5 crimes per 200,000 people in Philadelphia.[143] Among its neighboring Mid-Atlantic cities in the same population group, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. were ranked second- and third-most dangerous cities in the United States, respectively.[144] Camden, New Jersey, a city across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, was ranked as the most dangerous city in the United States.[144]

The number of shootings in the city has declined significantly in the last 10 years. Shooting incidents peaked in 2006 when 1,857 shootings were recorded. That number has dropped 44 percent to 1,047 shootings in 2014.[90] Similarly, major crimes in the city has decreased gradually in the last ten years since its peak in 2006 when 85,498 major crimes were reported. In the past three years, the number of reported major crimes fell 11 percent to a total of 68,815. Violent crimes, which include homicide, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery, decreased 14 percent in the past three years with a reported 15,771 occurrences in 2014.[90] Based on the rate of violent crimes per 1,000 residents in American cities with 25,000 people or more, Philadelphia was ranked as the 54th most dangerous city in 2015.[145]


Primary and secondary education

William Penn Charter School, established in 1689, is the oldest Quaker school in the nation

Education in Philadelphia is provided by many private and public institutions. The School District of Philadelphia runs the city's public schools. The Philadelphia School District is the eighth largest school district in the United States[146] with 142,266 students in 218 public schools and 86 charter schools as of 2014.[147]

The city's K-12 enrollment in district run schools has dropped in the last five years from 156,211 students in 2010 to 130,104 students in 2015. During the same time period, the enrollment in charter schools has increased from 33,995 students in 2010 to 62,358 students in 2015.[90] This consistent drop in enrollment has led the city to close 24 of its public schools in 2013.[148] During the 2014 school year, the city spent an average of $12,570 per pupil, below the average among comparable urban school districts.[90]

Graduation rates among district-run schools, meanwhile, have steadily increased in the last ten years. In 2005, Philadelphia had a district graduation rate of 52%. This number has increased to 65% in 2014, still below the national and state averages. Scores on the state's standardized test, the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) have trended upward from 2005 to 2011 but have decreased since. In 2005, the district-run schools scored an average of 37.4% on math and 35.5% on reading. The city's schools reached its peak scores in 2011 with 59.0% on math and 52.3% on reading. In 2014, the scores dropped significantly to 45.2% on math and 42.0% on reading.[90]

Of the city's public high schools, including charter schools, only four performed above the national average on the SAT (1497[149]) in 2014: Masterman, Central, Girard, and MaST Community Charter School. All other district-run schools were below average.[90]

Higher education

Quadrangle at the University of Pennsylvania in the winter.
Perelman School of Medicine, the oldest medical school in the United States

Philadelphia has the third-largest student concentration on the East Coast, with over 120,000 college and university students enrolled within the city and nearly 300,000 in the metropolitan area.[150] There are over 80 colleges, universities, trade, and specialty schools in the Philadelphia region. One of the founding members of the Association of American Universities is in city, the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution with claims to being the oldest university in the country.[151]

The city's largest private school by number of students is Temple University, followed by Drexel University.[152] Along with the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University and Drexel University make up the city's major research universities. The city is also home to five schools of medicine: Drexel University College of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, and the Thomas Jefferson University. Hospitals, universities, and higher education research institutions in Philadelphia's four congressional districts received more than $252 million in National Institutes of Health grants in 2015.[153]

Other institutions of higher learning within the city's borders include:


For more details on this topic, see Media in Philadelphia.


Philadelphia's two major daily newspapers are The Philadelphia Inquirer, which is the eighteenth largest newspaper[154] and third-oldest surviving daily newspaper in the country,[155] and the Philadelphia Daily News. Both newspapers were purchased from The McClatchy Company (after buying out Knight Ridder) in 2006 by Philadelphia Media Holdings and operated by the group until the organization declared bankruptcy in 2010.[156] After two years of financial struggle, the two newspapers were sold to Interstate General Media in 2012.[156] The two newspapers have a combined circulation of about 500,000 readers.[154]

The city also has a number of other, smaller newspapers and magazine in circulation such as the Philadelphia Tribune, which serves the African-American community, the Philadelphia, a monthly regional magazine; Philadelphia Weekly, an weekly-printed alternative newspaper; Philadelphia City Paper another weekly-printed newspaper; Philadelphia Gay News, which services the LGBT community; The Jewish Exponent a weekly-printed newspaper servicing the Jewish community; Philadelphia Metro, free daily newspaper; and Al Día, a weekly newspaper servicing the Latino community.

In addition, there are several student-run newspapers including The Daily Pennsylvanian, The Temple News, and The Triangle.

Radio and television

The first experimental radio license was issued in Philadelphia in August 1912 to St. Joseph's College. The first commercial broadcasting radio stations appeared in 1922: first WIP, then owned by Gimbel's department store, on March 17, followed the same year by WFIL, WOO, WCAU and WDAS.[157] The highest-rated stations in Philadelphia include soft rock WBEB, KYW Newsradio, and urban adult contemporary WDAS-FM. Philadelphia is served by three major non-commercial public radio stations, WHYY-FM (NPR), WRTI (jazz, classical), and WXPN-FM (adult alternative music), as well as several smaller stations.

Rock stations WMMR and WYSP had historically been intense rivals. However, in 2011, WYSP switched to sports talk as WIP-FM, which broadcasts all Philadelphia Eagles games. WMMR's The Preston and Steve Show has been the area's top-rated morning show since Howard Stern left broadcast radio for satellite-based Sirius Radio.[citation needed]

Four urban stations (WUSL ("Power 99"), WPHI ("Hot 107.9"), WDAS and WRNB ("Old School 100.3")) are popular choices on the FM dial. WBEB is the city's Adult Contemporary station, while WZMP ("Wired 96.5") is the major Rhythmic Top 40 station.[citation needed]

In the 1930s, the experimental station W3XE, owned by Philco, became the first television station in Philadelphia; it became NBC's first affiliate in 1939, and later became KYW-TV (CBS). WCAU-TV, WPVI-TV, WHYY-TV, WPHL-TV, and WTXF-TV had all been founded by the 1970s.[157] In 1952, WFIL (now WPVI) premiered the television show Bandstand, which later became the nationally broadcast American Bandstand hosted by Dick Clark.[158] Today, as in many large metropolitan areas, each of the commercial networks has an affiliate, and call letters have been replaced by corporate IDs: CBS3, 6ABC, NBC10, Fox29, Telefutura28, Telemundo62, Univision65, plus My PHL 17 and CW Philly 57. The region is served also by public broadcasting stations WYBE-TV (Philadelphia), WHYY-TV (Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia), WLVT-TV (Lehigh Valley), and NJTV (New Jersey). In September 2007, Philadelphia approved a Public-access television cable TV channel.

Until September 2014, Philadelphia was the only media market in the United States with owned-and-operated stations of all five English-language major broadcast networks (NBC – WCAU, CBS – KYW-TV, ABC – WPVI-TV, Fox – WTXF-TV and The CW – WPSG); three of the major Spanish-language networks (Univision, UniMas and Telemundo) also have O&Os serving the market (respectively, WUVP-DT, WFPA-CD and WWSI).

The city is also the nation's fourth-largest consumer in media market, as ranked by the Nielsen Media Research, with over 2.9 million TV homes.[159]



30th Street Station, with Cira Centre in the background

Philadelphia is served by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), which operates buses, trains, rapid transit, trolleys, and trackless trolleys throughout Philadelphia, the four Pennsylvania suburban counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery, in addition to service to Mercer County, New Jersey and New Castle County, Delaware. The city's subway, opened in 1907, is the third-oldest in America.

Market–Frankford Line train departing 52nd Street station.

In 1981, large sections of the SEPTA Regional Rail service to the far suburbs of Philadelphia were discontinued due to lack of funding. Several projects have been proposed to extend rail service back to these areas, but lack of funding has again been the chief obstacle to implementation. These projects include the proposed Schuylkill Valley Metro to Wyomissing, PA, and extension of the Media/Elwyn line back to Wawa, PA. SEPTA's Airport Regional Rail Line Regional Rail offers direct service to the Philadelphia International Airport.

Philadelphia's 30th Street Station is a major railroad station on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, which offers access to Amtrak, SEPTA, and New Jersey Transit lines.

The PATCO Speedline provides rapid transit service to Camden, Collingswood, Westmont, Haddonfield, Woodcrest (Cherry Hill), Ashland (Voorhees), and Lindenwold, New Jersey, from stations on Locust Street between 16th and 15th, 13th and 12th, and 10th and 9th Streets, and on Market Street at 8th Street.


Two airports serve Philadelphia: the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), straddling the southern boundary of the city, and the Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE), a general aviation reliever airport in Northeast Philadelphia. Philadelphia International Airport provides scheduled domestic and international air service, while Northeast Philadelphia Airport serves general and corporate aviation. In 2013, Philadelphia International Airport was the 15th busiest airport in the world measured by traffic movements (i.e. takeoffs and landings).[160] It is also a second largest hub and primary international hub for US Airways.[161]


William Penn initially planned a Philadelphia that had numbered streets traversing north and south and "tree" named streets traversing east and west, with the two main streets Broad Street and High Street converging at Centre Square. The plans have since expanded to include major highways that span other major sections of Philadelphia.

Aerial view showing the major highways circumscribing Philadelphia

Interstate 95 runs through the city along the Delaware River as a main north-south artery known as the Delaware Expressway. The city is also served by the Schuylkill Expressway, a portion of Interstate 76 that runs along the Schuylkill River. It meets the Pennsylvania Turnpike at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, providing access to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and points west. Interstate 676, the Vine Street Expressway, was completed in 1991 after years of planning. A link between I-95 and I-76, it runs below street level through Center City, connecting to the Ben Franklin Bridge at its eastern end.

Roosevelt Boulevard and the Roosevelt Expressway (U.S. 1) connect Northeast Philadelphia with Center City. Woodhaven Road (Route 63), built in 1966, and Cottman Avenue (Route 73) serve the neighborhoods of Northeast Philadelphia, running between Interstate 95 and the Roosevelt Boulevard (U.S. 1). The Fort Washington Expressway (Route 309) extends north from the city's northern border, serving Montgomery County and Bucks County. U.S. 30, extending east-west from West Philadelphia to Lancaster, is known as Lancaster Avenue throughout most of the city and through the adjacent Main Line suburbs.

The Ben Franklin Bridge, viewed at night from Center City toward Camden, New Jersey

Interstate 476, commonly nicknamed the "Blue Route" through Delaware County, bypasses the city to the west, serving the city's western suburbs, as well as providing a link to Allentown and points north. Similarly, Interstate 276, the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Delaware River Extension, acts as a bypass and commuter route to the north of the city as well as a link to the New Jersey Turnpike to New York.

However, other planned freeways have been canceled, such as an Interstate 695 running southwest from downtown; two freeways connecting Interstate 95 to Interstate 76 that would have replaced Girard Avenue and South Street; and a freeway upgrade of Roosevelt Boulevard.

The Delaware River Port Authority operates four bridges in the Philadelphia area across the Delaware River to New Jersey: the Walt Whitman Bridge (I-76), the Benjamin Franklin Bridge (I-676 and US 30), the Betsy Ross Bridge (Route 90), and the Commodore Barry Bridge (US 322). The Tacony-Palmyra Bridge connects PA Route 73 in the Tacony section of Northeast Philadelphia with New Jersey's Route 73 in Palmyra, Camden County, and is maintained by the Burlington County Bridge Commission.

Bus service

Philadelphia is also a major hub for Greyhound Lines, which operates 24-hour service to points east of the Mississippi River. Most of Greyhound's services in Philadelphia operate to/from the Philadelphia Greyhound Terminal, located at 1001 Filbert Street in Center City Philadelphia. In 2006, the Philadelphia Greyhound Terminal was the second busiest Greyhound terminal in the United States, after the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. Besides Greyhound, six other bus operators provide service to the Center City Greyhound terminal: Bieber Tourways, Capitol Trailways, Martz Trailways, Peter Pan Bus Lines, Susquehanna Trailways, and the bus division for New Jersey Transit. Other services include Megabus and Bolt Bus.


Suburban Station with art deco architecture

Since the early days of rail transport in the United States, Philadelphia has served as hub for several major rail companies, particularly the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Reading Railroad. The Pennsylvania Railroad first operated Broad Street Station, then 30th Street Station and Suburban Station, and the Reading Railroad operated out of Reading Terminal, now part of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The two companies also operated competing commuter rail systems in the area, known collectively as the Regional Rail system. The two systems today, for the most part still intact but now connected, operate as a single system under the control of the SEPTA, the regional transit authority. Additionally, the PATCO Speedline subway system and New Jersey Transit's Atlantic City Line operate successor services to southern New Jersey.[162]

Philadelphia, once home to more than 4,000 trolleys on 65 lines,[163] is one of the few North American cities to maintain streetcar lines. Today, SEPTA operates five "subway-surface" trolleys that run on street-level tracks in West Philadelphia and subway tunnels in Center City. SEPTA also recently[when?] reintroduced trolley service to the Girard Avenue Line, Route 15.

Today, Philadelphia is a regional hub of the federally owned Amtrak system, with 30th Street Station being a primary stop on the Washington-Boston Northeast Corridor and the Keystone Corridor to Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. 30th Street also serves as a major station for services via the Pennsylvania Railroad's former Pennsylvania Main Line to Chicago. 30th Street is Amtrak's third-busiest station in numbers of passengers as of fiscal year 2013.[164]


A 2015 study by Walk Score ranked Philadelphia the fourth most walkable major city in the United States.[165]


Fairmount Water Works, Philadelphia's second municipal waterworks.

Historically, Philadelphia sourced its water by the Fairmount Water Works, the nation's first major urban water supply system. In 1909, Water Works was decommissioned as the city transitioned to modern sand filtration methods.[166] Today, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) provides drinking water, wastewater collection, and stormwater services for Philadelphia, as well as surrounding counties. PWD draws about 57 percent of its drinking water from the Delaware River and the balance from the Schuylkill River.[167] The public wastewater system consists of three water pollution control plants, 21 pumping stations, and about 3,657 miles of sewers.[167] A 2007 investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency found elevated levels of Iodine-131 in the city's potable water.[citation needed] In 2012, the EPA's readings discovered that the city had the highest readings of I-131 in the nation. The city campaigned against an Associated Press report that the high levels of I-131 were the results of local gas drilling in the Upper Delaware River.[citation needed]

PECO Energy Company, founded as the Philadelphia Electric Company in 1881,[168] provides electricity to over 1.6 million customers in the southeastern Pennsylvania.[169] The company has over 500 power substations and 29,000 miles of distribution of transmission lines in its service making it the largest combination utility in the state.

Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW), overseen by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, is the nation's largest municipally owned natural gas utility. It serves over 500,000 homes and businesses in the Philadelphia area.[170] Founded in 1836, the company came under city ownership in 1987 and has been providing the majority of gas distributed within city limits. In 2014, the Philadelphia City Council refused to conduct hearings on a $1.86 billion sale of PGW, part of a two-year effort that was proposed by the mayor. The refusal led to the prospective buyer terminating its offer.[171][172]

Southeastern Pennsylvania was assigned the 215 area code in 1947 when the North American Numbering Plan of the "Bell System" went into effect. The geographic area covered by the code was split nearly in half in 1994 when area code 610 was created, with the city and its northern suburbs retaining 215. Overlay area code 267 was added to the 215 service area in 1997, and 484 was added to the 610 area in 1999. A plan in 2001 to introduce a third overlay code to both service areas (area code 445 to 215, area code 835 to 610) was delayed and later rescinded.[173]

An effort was approved on 2005 to provide low-cost, citywide Wi-Fi service to the city. Wireless Philadelphia would have been the first municipal internet utility offering in a large US city, but the plan was abandoned in 2008 as EarthLink pushed back the completion date several times. Mayor Nutter's administration closed the project in 2009 after an attempt to revitalize it failed.[174]

Notable people

Sister cities

Chinatown Gate at 10th and Arch, a symbol of Philadelphia's friendship with Tianjin.

Philadelphia has eight official sister cities, as designated by the Citizen Diplomacy International - Philadelphia:[175]

City Country Date
Florence[176]  Italy 1964
Tel Aviv[177]  Israel 1966
Toruń[178]  Poland 1976
Tianjin[179]  People's Republic of China 1980
Incheon[180]  South Korea 1984
Douala[181]  Cameroon 1986
Nizhny Novgorod[182]  Russia 1992
Frankfurt[183]  Germany 2015

Philadelphia also has three partnership cities or regions:[175]

City Country Date
Kobe[184]  Japan 1986
Abruzzo[185]  Italy 1997
Aix-en-Provence[186]  France 1999

Philadelphia has dedicated landmarks to its sister cities. Dedicated in June 1976, the Sister Cities Plaza, a site of 0.5 acres (2,000 m2) located at 18th and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, honors Philadelphia's relationships with Tel Aviv and Florence which were its first sister cities. Another landmark, the Toruń Triangle, honoring the sister city relationship with Toruń, Poland, was constructed in 1976, west of the United Way building at 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. In addition, the Triangle contains the Copernicus monument. Renovations were made to Sister Cities Park in mid-2011 and on May 10, 2012, SCP was reopened and currently features an interactive fountain honoring Philadelphia's ten sister and friendship cities, a café and visitor's center, children's play area, outdoor garden, and boat pond, as well as pavilion built to environmentally friendly standards.[187]

The Chinatown Gate, erected in 1984 and crafted by artisans of Tianjin, stands astride the intersection of 10th and Arch Streets as an elaborate and colorful symbol of the sister city relationship. The CDI of Philadelphia has participated in the U.S. Department of State's "Partners for Peace" project with Mosul, Iraq,[188] as well as accepting visiting delegations from dozens of other countries.[189]


See also


  1. ^ See North American blizzard of 2009#Snowfall (December 19–20, 2009), First North American blizzard of 2010#Snowfall (February 5–6, 2010), and Second North American blizzard of 2010#Impact (February 9–10, 2010). The February storms contributed to a record (for any month) monthly total accumulation of 51.5 in (131 cm). If no snow fell outside of February that season, 2009–10 would still rank as 5th-snowiest. See the Franklin Institute for a visual representation of seasonal snowfall.
  2. ^ The last occurrence of such a temperature was July 18, 2012.
  3. ^ Official temperature and precipitation records for Philadelphia were kept at the Weather Bureau Office in downtown from January 1872 to 19 June 1940, and at Philadelphia Int'l from 20 June 1940 to the present.[70] Snowfall and snow depth records date to 1 January 1884 and 1 October 1948, respectively.[65] In 2006, snowfall measurements were moved to National Park, New Jersey directly across the Delaware River from the airport.[71]


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Further reading

  • Abigail Perkiss, Making Good Neighbors: Civil Rights, Liberalism, and Integration in Postwar Philadelphia. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014.

External links