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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Preserve America Community:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia (population 1,517,550), known as the “City of Brotherly Love,” is the fifth largest city in the United States. Founded by William Penn in 1682, the city hosted many significant events during the colonial, revolutionary, and early Republic periods in American history, including the drafting of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The city served as the capital of the United States from 1790 until 1800, when the federal government relocated to Washington, D.C.

During the 19th century, Philadelphia contributed greatly to America’s burgeoning industrial power as a large-scale manufacturing center. Located along the Delaware River, one of the country’s major waterways and trade routes, Philadelphia also became an important railroad hub. Philadelphia was selected as the site of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, the first major World’s Fair in the United States, which was held in the city’s grand Fairmount Park.

Today, Philadelphia is undergoing an economic revitalization due to one of the largest development and construction periods in the city’s history. Its economy is driven by the health care industry, several renowned area colleges and universities, and heritage tourism. Philadelphia’s importance as a historic and cultural center attracts new residents and makes it one of the top tourism destinations in the United States.

Philadelphia’s unparalleled resources span over three centuries of the cultural, social, political, economic, and architectural history of the city, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the nation. Philadelphia is home to the recently opened National Constitution Center, Independence National Historical Park, and the Liberty Bell. Just within walking distance of the Liberty Bell there are 40 cultural institutions, museums, historic sites, and some of the nation’s preeminent archives. Historic Fairmount Park contains seven interpreted National Historic Landmarks, and the city as a whole has 58, as well as seven National Historic Landmark Districts, 401 buildings and structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and 53 National Register Districts.

The Independence Visitor Center provides orientation films, themed pick-up guides, and computer information kiosks. The official tourism Web site offers 25 different tour itineraries, and the Heritage Philadelphia Living History Program uses street theater, music, and crafts to entertain and educate more than 825,000 visitors annually. “Once Upon a Nation” interpretive storytellers lead adventure tours on historic themes, events, and personages relating to colonial Philadelphia, improving the visibility of many smaller heritage tourism attractions.

For more information

City of Philadelphia Visitors’ Site: www.phila.gov/visitors/travel_history.html

Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation: www.gophila.com

Posted March 16, 2009

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