In 1776 it was the birthplace of the American Declaration of Independence, and 11 years later, the Constitution. Philadelphia was founded by William Penn in 1682 and settled by the Quakers. It was the nation’s first capital and once the largest city west of Liverpool, England. The origins of the word Philadelphia are Greek.
It translates to mean brotherly love. Accordingly, Temple offers a course dedicated to the history of this city. Professor Helen Heinz of the history department teaches this course and said students enjoy their historical explorations of the City of Brotherly Love.
“Most students tell me that if it wasn’t for this course they would have never gone out and explored the city,” Heinz said.
“The students have to do three out of eight possible trips and they have to interview people. This is interesting because it makes them look at how other people see these places.”
According to Heinz, Philadelphia has been a city that has had to constantly evolve through the years.
“[Philadelphia] is such a creative place – a place that constantly re-invents itself,” she said. “It was the first capital and had to re-invent itself during the Civil War. It was a very southern city in the Civil War, but had the largest free black population so it was a really interesting place to be. After the Civil War it becomes the second largest city, because New York [City] passes it. It then has to reinvent itself again so it becomes the industrial center of the country. Then when that goes south it had to reinvent itself as a Republican stock hold – a place with a lot of money and a lot of culture.”
Those from New York City or Chicago may think Philly is relatively small now, but imagine what it was like when it was first founded. The city that was once the heart America was nowhere near the size it is today. People don’t realize that when the city was first formed it went from Vine Street to South Street and from river to river and that’s it,” Heinz said. “So the fact that the city re-invented itself to include the county is a big thing.” If this course is of interest, then try and take advantage of it. But do it soon, because according to Professor Heinz the door for registration does not last very long.
“This course tends to fill up in about three hours of availability,” she warned.
“It’s all of American history compressed through the lens of Philadelphia.”
Dan Cappello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.