Overview of Philadelphia's history, decade by decade:


  • 1609-1638: European exploration and colonization efforts begin with Henry Hudson's expedition up the Delaware River, followed by Dutch and Swedish settlements in the region.
  • 1681: William Penn receives a royal charter to establish the colony of Pennsylvania, envisioning it as a haven for religious freedom and tolerance.


  • 1682-1701: Penn arrives in the region and founds Philadelphia as the capital of Pennsylvania, laying out the city in a grid pattern with broad streets and public squares.
  • 1776: Philadelphia becomes the birthplace of American independence when the Second Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence.
  • 1787: The Constitutional Convention convenes in Philadelphia, leading to the drafting of the United States Constitution.
  • 1790: Philadelphia briefly serves as the nation's capital while Washington, D.C. is under construction.


  • 1800s: Philadelphia experiences rapid industrialization and urbanization, fueled by the growth of manufacturing, trade, and transportation networks.
  • 1812-1815: The War of 1812 disrupts trade and commerce in Philadelphia but also stimulates industrial growth.
  • 1830s-1840s: The construction of canals and railroads, including the Pennsylvania Railroad, solidifies Philadelphia's position as a major transportation hub.
  • 1876: Philadelphia hosts the Centennial Exhibition, showcasing technological innovations and cultural achievements.
  • 1880s-1890s: The city experiences a period of economic expansion, with the rise of industries such as textiles, steel, and shipbuilding.


  • 1901: Philadelphia's subway system begins operation, improving transportation within the city.
  • 1918-1919: The Spanish flu pandemic hits Philadelphia, resulting in thousands of deaths and overwhelming the city's healthcare system.
  • 1920s-1930s: The Great Depression causes economic hardship, but New Deal programs and public works projects help stimulate recovery.
  • 1940s-1950s: Post-war prosperity leads to urban renewal efforts and the expansion of industries such as healthcare, education, and finance.
  • 1960s-1970s: Philadelphia experiences social and political upheaval, marked by civil rights activism, anti-war protests, and economic challenges.