Founded in the 17th century by William Penn as a haven for persecuted Quakers, Philadelphia quickly became the most important city in America. By the dawn of the revolution it was the largest English-speaking city in the world outside of London. During the course of this three-hour walking seminar through Philadelphia's Old City and Society Hill neighborhoods, we will explore the social and political mechanisms that defined the city and set the stage for the Declaration of Independence and the Continental Congress.We begin with the plan of the city and a discussion of the critical figure of William Penn, founding father of the colony of Pennsylvania and architect—in a very real sense—of the city of Philadelphia. Using the plaza-scale plan of the city located near Second Street as our reference point, we'll look at how Penn's rational plan set the stage for an explosion of commerce and trade and the influx of immigrants from all over the world.
As we make our way through the well-preserved historic core of the city, past buildings that still stand after more than 200 years, we'll look at some of the key themes that defined Philadelphia in those early years including Quakerism and religious tolerance and unfettered trade.
Our walk will take us into several historic houses and house museums along streets dating to the 18th century and into some of the churches that played a role in the founding of the U.S. These may include Carpenter's Hall, Old St. Mary's, St. Peter's, and Independence Mall.
As we walk we'll move forward through history to discuss how the city evolved socially, architecturally, and politically through the colonial period until the dawn of the revolution. As this area of the city saw the construction of some of the largest houses, we'll focus specifically on the emergence of a wealthy merchant class in the 18th century and how they defined the city at the dawn of Independence and through the war. On occasion, we may gain access to one of these historic homes that is normally closed to the public.We will end, usually, at Headhouse Market in Society Hill, a historic center of trade in the city that is today the most vibrant farmer's market in Center City.
This walking seminar is a good introduction to Philadelphia during the colonial period and exploration of the major sites in old city south of Market Street. It is a great complement to our Franklin Seminar walk.