Philadelphia is one of the oldest and most historically significant U.S. cities. It was the nation's first capital. At the time of the American Revolution, it was the second-largest English-speaking city in the world, after only London. Into the first part of the 19th century, it was the country's most populous city and eclipsed Boston and New York City in political and social importance. Benjamin Franklin played an extraordinary role in Philadelphia's rise.
The history of Philadelphia goes back to its founding in 1682 by William Penn. The area had earlier been inhabited by the Lenape (Delaware)Indians and European settlers who first arrived in the area in the early 1600s. Philadelphia quickly grew into an important colonial city and during the American Revolution was the site of the First and Second Continental Congresses. After the Revolution the city served as the temporary capital of the United States. At the beginning of the 19th century, the federal and state governments left Philadelphia, but the city was still the cultural and financial center of the country. Philadelphia became one of the first industrial centers in the United States, and the city contained a variety of industries, the largest being textiles. After the American Civil War, Philadelphia's government was controlled by an increasingly corrupt Republicanpolitical machine and by the beginning of the 20th century the city was described as "corrupt and contented." Various reform efforts slowly changed city government with the most significant in 1950 when a new city charter strengthened the position of mayor and weakened the Philadelphia City Council. At the same time Philadelphia moved its support from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, which has since created a strong organization. The city's population began to decline in the 1950s as mostly white and middle-class families left for the suburbs. Many of Philadelphia's houses were in poor condition and lacked proper facilities, and gang and mafia warfare plagued the city. Revitalization and gentrification of certain neighborhoods started bringing people back to the city. Promotions and incentives in the 1990s and the early 21st century have improved the city's image and created a condominium boom in Center City and the surrounding areas that has slowed the population decline.
Charles Barkley is a retired American professional basketball player. Barkley established himself as one of the National Basketball Association's (NBA's) most dominating power forwards. He was selected to both the All-NBA First Team and All-NBA Second Team five times and once named to the All-NBA Third Team. He earned eleven NBA All-Star Game appearances and was named the All-Star MVP in 1991. In 1993, he was voted the league's Most Valuable Player and during the NBA's 50th anniversary, named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He competed in the 1992 and 1996Olympic games and won two gold medals as a member of the United States' Dream Team. In 2006, Barkley was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Barkley was popular with the fans and media and made the NBA's All-Interview Team for each of his last 13 seasons in the league. He was frequently involved in on- and off-court fights and sometimes stirred national controversy, as in March 1991 when he mistakenly spat on a young girl, and as in 1993 when he declared that sports figures should not be considered role models. Short for a power forward, Barkley used his strength and aggressiveness to become one of the NBA's most dominant rebounders. He was a versatile player who had the ability to score, create plays, and defend. In 2000, he retired as one of only four players in NBA history with 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. Since retiring as a player, Barkley has had a successful career as an Emmy Award-winning color commentator on basketball. He works with Turner Network Television (TNT) as a studio pundit for its coverage of NBA games. In addition, Barkley has written several books and has shown an interest in politics; in October 2008, he announced that he will be running for Governor of Alabama in 2014.