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Historic Philadelphia

United States of America

Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood occupies a half-mile wide stretch of land along the Delaware River, bounded by Spring Garden Street in the north and Walnut Street to the south. These days, Old City is known as an arts district with a number of galleries, boutiques, and theaters, but more than three hundred years ago, it was the area first settled by William Penn and the Quakers, who believed that organized spaces led to moral and disciplined minds. This belief, and an interest in selling standardized land plots to investors back in England, led Penn to lay out his new settlement in a grid pattern in order to spread homes and businesses apart, prevent fire and disease, and provide space for gardens and trees between the buildings. It was the first planned city in America. His vision didn’t last, however, and people soon began crowding together near the riverfront and dividing their lots into smaller parcels, seemingly more interested in convenience and affordability than in Penn’s ideals. Before long, Philadelphia became the most populous city in British America.

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