Explore numerous cultural institutions, museums and historis sites. Gain a new understanding of Philadelphia, "The Athens of the West," where dreams of political and religious freedom became New World realities.

Beyond the Bell

Before the Declaration of Independence launched the world's first modern democracy, William Penn defied established practice by creating a colony which welcomed everyone, regardless of religious preference or national origin.

Here Quaker merchants, Scots-Irish entrepreneurs, English tradesmen, blacks from the West Indies, Irish and German indentured servants, and refugees from European wars found a home. It was a city of artisans and notables: only Philadelphia, the most cosmopolitan city in America, could have been home to Benjamin Franklin, the most famous American citizen.

Our streets and buildings recall those of 18th century England (Elfreth's Alley, Powel House, Christ Church), and British models were adopted to form learned societies (American Philosophical Society), guildhalls (Carpenter's Hall), scholarly libraries (The Athenaeum), and hospitals (Pennsylvania Hospital). The first nonsectarian university began here (University of Pennsylvania), and three newspapers and a literary magazine found ready readers (Franklin's Print Shop).

It is William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges, commemorated at Welcome Park, that makes Philadelphia's history unique. Only in the "city of brotherly love" could Jews, Catholics and an array of Protestants live and worship freely side by side. Today local museums, historical societies, cultural centers and houses of worship keep Philadelphia's tradition of diversity and religious freedom alive.

Walk the streets of America's most historic neighborhood, where human aspirations for political and religious liberty were forged, tested...and fulfilled.