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Philadelphia History

Proud English Quaker, William Penn, was also a canny property entrepreneur. After immigrating to the New World to avoid persecution in England, he helped fellow Quakers purchase land which became known as New Jersey.

He was generously granted further American land by King Charles II (paying off a debt the king owed his father) and realising that this opportunity was not to be overlooked, he sailed to America to check out his new real estate.

The land eventually became Pennsylvania, but Penn originally called it New Wales before it later became Sylvania, which is Latin for forest or woodland. 'Penn' was added later as a tribute to his late father by the King.

 

In 1682, with Pennsylvania under his ownership, he set about creating a 'green country towne' in between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. Penn named his new town Philadelphia after the Greek word for 'brotherly love' to perhaps promote kinship between, and the Swedish and Dutch settlers building their own communities nearby. As the town took shape, it quickly expanded into a major trading hub.

 

 

Penn sadly never lived to see the result of his vision. He returned to live in England with his wife and eventually died penniless in 1718. However, his legacy of fair treatment for all, including the Native Americans, and his work towards creating a 'Union of American Colonies' as early as 1696, led Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to count him as one of America's Founding Fathers.

 

Philadelphia's importance as a port made it the ideal location for the delegates of the 'thirteen Colonies' to hold the First and Second Continental Congresses during the American Revolution, and it was here that they ultimately declared their Independence.

 

Philadelphia was the natural choice as the new capital of the United States, a role it held from 1790 to 1800. Remarkably, downtown Philadelphia retains much of Penn's original layout, including the street grid system, the parks, and four out of his five original squares.

 

Did you know?
• The original Liberty Bell was shipped over from London’s Whitechapel Foundry in 1751. It cracked on its first ring, so was melted down and recast in Philadelphia.
• Al Capone was held in the Eastern State Penitentiary from 1929-30 after being arrested for carrying a concealed deadly weapon.
• Opened in 1901, Philadelphia's City Hall is the largest municipal building in the world with almost 700 rooms.

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Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center

Situated in the Philadelphia’s tallest tower, the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia offers a unique experience and magnificent views of Philadelphia. Facilities include an infinity pool and fitness centre (on the 57th floor), several restaurants and a spa.

Opens in August 2019

Penn’s View Hotel

Just a short walk from the historic sights of the old city, and with views over the Delaware River, Penn’s View is one of Philly’s most underrated overnight gems. The rooms are designed in a traditional style, with exposed brick walls and warming fireplaces. Stump up a little extra for a whirlpool bath, ideal for winding down before hitting the excellent Il Bar downstairs or the Panorama Wine Bar upstairs.

Thomas Bond House

The charming Thomas Bond House is a cosy alternative to high-rise hotels. This bed and breakfast is set in a converted Georgian style home that dates back to 1769, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 12 guest rooms are handsomely furnished with period antiques, and two of the rooms have fireplaces and Jacuzzis.

The Kimpton Palomar

This luxury boutique property, with 230 rooms right in the middle of the Rittenhouse Square area, is Philadelphia’s first green hotel. Developed from an original 1929 art deco building, it imaginatively combines new with old. Everything about the hotel is based around sustainability, so its eco friendliness has been elevated to an art form. It also has in-room spa program and fully-equipped gym.

Morris House Hotel

Found in a beautiful colonial-era mansion, the Morris House Hotel is regularly held up as Philadelphia’s finest. There are just 15 rooms, each one with a cosy look that gives the whole place a very English feel. There are gorgeous gardens too, perfect for kicking back in on a hot summer’s day, G&T in one hand and book in the other. In winter, decamp to the lounge where you’ll find an open fireplace to warm your bones.

The Ritz-Carlton

Quite simply, one of the best addresses in town. Located beside Philadelphia's City Hall on the Avenue of the Arts, The Ritz-Carlton occupies a grandiose one-time bank - the old domed banking hall is now the reception, while the vault is a cigar and brandy bar (the marble steps on the way down are worn where ladies once descended to retrieve their gems from strong boxes). Guest rooms are huge and the bathrooms luxurious.