The city was founded in 1682 by William Penn, and by the 1750's, was the largest city in the British Empire, second only to London. During the Revolutionary War, Philadelphia was a hub for famous meetings and movements, including the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
People Born in Philadelphia
Philadelphia in People's Lives
Charles Armand Tuffin de la Rouërie: I set sail from France for this city in 1776, with plans to aid the American Revolution. My ship was attacked by the British off the coast of Delaware, and I leapt over the side rather than be captured. I swam ashore and walked over 100 miles in order to finally reach Philadelphia and pledge myself to the American cause.
Connie Talbot: I traveled here in 2008 to promote the upcoming American release of my first album. I was eight years old.
James Buchanan: I moved here in 1814 to further my political career, and was given a Federalist seat on the Pennsylvania House of Representatives at the age of 23. I was also soon made a member of Congress, and served as diplomatic Minister to Russia from 1832 to 1833. I moved to Washington D.C. in 1834 to serve on the United States Senate.
Jared Leto: I attended the University of the Arts, Philadelphia here in 1985, pursuing a visual arts degree. It was here that I took a strong interest in filmmaking, and I decided to transfer to the School of Visual Arts in New York, in 1987.
John Marshall: After joining the Continental Army in 1775, I was here at Valley Forge outside this city in 1777. I was a Captain in the 11th Virginia Continental Regiment. I remained with my men for the brutal Valley Forge conditions and winter, and also grew closer to George Washington, with whom I had become close friends. I returned decades later, in 1835. At the age of 79, I traveled to this city to seek medical treatment from my continuous ill health, which had began four years earlier following the death of my wife. I died after a month in this city, at the age of 79. I had served as Chief Justice for 34 years, the longest service in that post in history.
Martha Washington: I traveled here in December of 1777 to join my husband and his armies at Valley Forge, outside this city. I traveled hundreds of miles in ten long, cold days to reach the encampment. While here, I provided morale to my husband and the soldiers, held sociable luncheons and coffees with other ladies, and had elegant dinners with the officers. I stayed here for months, and near the end of my stay attended a camp production of the play Cato. After my husband became the first President of the United States, and this city was the temporary national capital, we lived here part-time from 1790 - 1797. I was known as an elegant, fashionably dressed, intelligent woman who deftly managed my husband's households and hosted society events.
Milo Ventimiglia: I traveled here in 2005 to film the movie Rocky Balboa, playing a young Rocky and worked with Sylvester Stallone, whom I have often been compared to due to my crooked mouth and smile. We filmed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in the Kensington neighborhood, in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia City Hall, and the Philadelphia Convention Center.
Otto Rank: I was often here for psychtherapy work, from about 1925 - 1939. My influence and popularity was particularly strong in this city, and I was recognized in the streets and treated with respect and acclaim. My methods were taken up by the Pennsylvania School of Social Work. I was invited to become a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, a job that I accepted.
Peggy Shippen: I was born here in 1760, into a wealthy Philadelphia Loyalist family. The youngest of my parent's children, I grew up as the baby and was often referred to as my family's "darling." As a girl, I enjoyed music, needlework, and drawing. As I grew up into an intelligent young woman, I began to follow and take up a fascination with politics. My father, who had a soft spot for me, took me under his wing and introduced me to the world of political intrigue, finance, and military strategy. In 1777, when I was 17 years old, the British captured this city from the rebels, and my family celebrated by holding parties at our home. During these events - which became Loyalist society events - I met John Andre, who often attended, though seeming far more interested in me than in the parties themselves. Andre left a few months later with the British army, but we remained in contact. In 1778, this city fell back into rebel hands, and I met Benedict Arnold. Despite our differences - me, the youngest daughter of a wealthy Loyalist family, and him - the General of the enemy army, he unabashedly made his intentions of courting me known. After a few months, he brazenly sent my father a letter asking for my hand in marriage. My father was, of course, skeptical, but Arnold's confidence and good nature, alongside my love for him, won him over, and he eventually agreed. We married in this city in April of 1779: Arnold was 38, and I was 18. Our marriage was a happy one in the beginning - Arnold bought me a mansion called Mount Pleasant in the city, putting my name legally on the deed. Though we did not live there, instead renting it out for income, I loved the manor house. Though Arnold was a general for the Continental army, we as a couple had many close Loyalist friends. In May of 1779, after only two months of marriage, Arnold began relaying secret information to the British. He continued this, and I helped him send, code, and deliver letters. We left this city when my husband's job took him to West Point, New York. During the six months there, his spying and double agent work for the British was discovered, and after he fled to a secret location, I came back to this city to stay with my family. I was questioned about my husband, but innocently pretended to have no idea about anything that had been going on. Although I knew where he was, I kept this information completely secret and continued to play dumb. However, things got worse for both of us: in 1780, my husband was found and captured, and letters from me were found proving that I had aided my husband in spying for the British. I was banished from this city, and said a tragic goodbye to my family, especially to my beloved father, who drove my infant son and I to a boat heading to New York, where Arnold was being held prisoner. Nearly a decade later, in 1789, I returned for a brief visit to see my family. Though I was overjoyed to see my father again, the visit was an unpleasant one. Despite my family's respected position in the city, I was treated with scorn and contempt. After that, I never saw Philadelphia again, but always considered it my true home.
Robert Morris (financier): Around the age of 16, in approximately 1750, I was sent from Oxford, Maryland to live in this city with a family friend. I got an apprenticeship at a shipping and banking firm in this city with an influential merchant, Charles Willing. During my time with Willing, he rose to the status of mayor, making my training under him all the more prestigious. After I had spent a year in this city, I recieved word that my father had been killed in a terrible, ironic accident - he had been fatally hit by a piece of wadding that had been fired from a ship's cannon in his honor. I was devastated, but pressed on in my training. Charles Willing, my mentor, passed away in 1754, after which his son Thomas Willing made me his partner in the business. I was 24 years old. Together, we founded the Willing, Morris & Co. shipping-banking firm, which soon grew into a successful and well-known company. I married my wife in this city in 1769, at the age of 35. I dutifully attended the two churches run by my brother-in-law, William White, for the rest of my life. In middle age, I turned a portion of my importations business to slave trading, but this was not a fortunate business venture: the first ship carried too few slaves to make a profit, and the second ship was attacked by French privateers. Nevertheless, my business grew to become one of the most powerful and wealthy in Pennsylvania. Besides running a large business, I also became involved in politics, most notably tariffs on imports and exports, taxes on tea, religious test laws, a treaty with France, arms dealing, and the Stamp Act. Following various other political posts, I was elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature from 1776 - 1778. I also represented Pennsylvania in the Second Continental Congress from 1775 - 1778, working closely with John Adams. I also used my web of informants, massive wealth, and far-reaching influence to form an effective spy ring gathering information about the British during the Revolutionary War. I also financed quite a lot of the war, the equivalent of about $189 million in today's money. I signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. When the state of Pennsylvania went bankrupt in 1780, they called upon me to save the economy, which I did by opening the ports and encouraging more trade and commerce. I also greatly helped to found the Bank of North America in 1782, together with Alexander Hamilton. I also became the U.S. Superintendent of Finance. I was asked by George Washington to serve as Secretary of the Treasury in 1789, but declined. In later life, I branched out to more enjoyable and eclectic forms of business and entertainment: I founded several canal companies, one steam engine company, and had great fun launching a hot air balloon from my garden on Market Street. I owned the first iron rolling mill in America. My icehouse, considered at the height of innovation at the time, was later used by Washington as a model for his own at Mount Vernon. I financed a theater, founded a horticultural society, and built a green-house on my property where my servants grew a forest of lemon trees. In 1794, I began construction on a vast mansion on Chestnut Street, designed by Pierre Charles L'Enfant. The massive project was never finished. However, later in life, due to the collapse of the tobacco market, heavy overspending, and the Napoleonic Wars, my financial status plummeted. I was, to put it crudely, "land rich and money poor." The United States passed its first bankrupcy act, and that a temporary one, specifically for my sake. After 1800, I suffered from ill health, now being aged 66. I retired and relied much on my wife to care for me. I died in 1806, at the age of 72, and was buried in my favorite Philadelphia church, beside my brother-in-law William White, Bishop of Pennsylvania.
Samuel Finley: I died here in 1766, just after turning 51. Some of my friends, including Archibald Alexander, as well as my family, were with me when I died. It was later reported by Alexander that I was cheerful throughout my sickness, and accepted my upcoming death "never seen to shed a tear." I was buried here at a Presbyterian church, as had been my wish. This church was torn down over 200 years later, in the 1980's, and my body was moved. My tombstone is now embedded in the wall of a lobby elsewhere in the city.
Summer Bishil: I traveled here in 2009 to film scenes of the movie The Last Airbender.
Vinnie Ream: I traveled here in 1876 to exhibit select examples of my sculptures at the Centennial Exposition, which was the first World's Fair held in the United States.
William Penn: I founded this city in 1682, though I had owned the surrounding land years before that. I intensely marketed the city through-out Europe as a religious safe-haven, and personally hoped it to become a pious utopia for members of my own faith, the persecuted Quakers. In the midst of governing this thriving and fast-growing city, writing laws and seeking to abolish frivolities, I fell back on my more Puritan beliefs, and though I continued to write religious tracts, they now lacked the passion of my earlier writings. I lived here from 1680 - 1701, and then decided to move back to England.
William Shippen: This city was my home, and the main, integral city of my life. I was born here in 1736, into an elite Pennsylvania family. My father was a famous doctor, and my great-grandfather had been Governor of Pennsylvania. I co-founded the medical school at the University of Pennsylvania here in 1765, the first school of its kind in the United States. Throughout colonial America, I was revered as an elite physician and intellectual, but especially in this city. I was the founder and president of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, a private and elite medical society, from 1805 - 1808. I died here in 1808, at the age of 72.
William White, Bishop of Pennsylvania: I lived nearly all my long life in this city. I was born here in 1748, the son of a military colonel. I attended the University of Pennsylvania, where I spent many years obtaining both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree of the arts. After this, in 1770, I began a series of trips back and forth to England, busy getting ordained and blessed with honors in the church. Around 1778, I returned to the same university to obtain a doctorate of divinity, which I was awarded in 1781. After recieving all of my qualifications in England, I had no further wish to travel. I settled in this city, my home, and dutifully attended my two congregations at the churches St. Peter's and Christ Church here. I was the reverend to these churches for 57 years and became a highly respected member of Philadelphia society. In 1785, I founded the Episcopal Academy, which proposed to educate the sons of Philadelphia's elite society and give them the training to become leaders. I also built a school in 1795 for African American and Native American children, and founded the Magdalen Society in 1800, which offered help to prostitutes and other such "unhappy females who have been seduced from the path of virtue." It was the first organization of its kind in the United States. I greatly helped to found the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in 1820, and served as the school's president for 16 years. I also frequently volunteered to go minister in prisons within this city. My friend Benjamin Rush and I were among the few who remained in this city to tend for the sick during the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1793. An abolitionist, I kept an African coachman in my house but no slaves. I died here in 1836 after a long spell of general ill health, living until the age of 88. I was buried in my favorite church, Christ Church, beside my brother-in-law, Robert Morris.
Zoe Kravitz: I traveled here in 2009 to perform in a concert. Although the band that I had organized broke up shortly afterward, I still cite this as one of my favorite concerts that I've ever performed at.