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1600s 1800

Philadelphia Timeline, 1700s


  • July 2. New Swedes Church consecrated on the on the ground formerly occupied by the Swedes Church, Southwark.
  • December 2. Wm. Penn arrived at Philadelphia.
  • October 25. Charter granted to the city of Philadelphia by Wm. Penn.
  • November 1. Wm. Penn left Philadelphia for England.
  • First Presbyterian Church built, High Street and White Horse Alley (Market and Bank Streets).
  • Christ Church, Protestant Episcopal, built on Second Street, above Market; replaced by the present church in 1727.
  • A club was formed called the Bachelors' Club, situate on the Delaware shore above Gunners' Run. This was the first country club adjacent to the city. "Bachelors' Hall," as it was commonly called, was made notorious by its festivities.
  • December 22. The American Weekly Mercury issued by Andrew Bradford. Price, ten shillings per annum. The first newspaper issued in Philadelphia.
  • October. Benjamin Franklin arrived in Philadelphia and applied to Andrew Bradford, the printer, for employment. Employed as a printer until he and his friend James Ralph, a merchant's clerk, in 1724 sailed together to London to "seek their fortunes." Franklin returned to Philadelphia October 11, 1726. In the winter of 1726-27, he found the Junto.
  • Founding the Carpenter's Company.
  • March 1. St. David's Day. Welsh citizens organize the "Society of Ancient Britons" at the Queen's Head Tavern in King Street (now Water Street.) Attend service in Christ Church, sermon preached in the original Cymric.
  • July 1. The Library Company of Philadelphia founded.
  • First Baptist Church built, Second Street below Arch.
  • A fishing club was instituted under the title of "Colony of Schuylkill." This club, which is yet in existence on the Delaware, at Andalusia, is now known as the State in Schuylkill.
  • St. Joseph's Catholic Church, in Willing's Alley, Built.
  • September 22. Arrival of the English ship St. Andrew with the first contingent of emigrants, followers of Caspar Schwenkfeld, a repressed sect in Silesia and Germany. On the next day (September 23d) all male persons over the age of sixteen years proceeded to the State House, and there subscribed a pledge of allegiance to George 2, King of Great Britain, and his successors. They spent the 24th in thanksgiving to Almighty God for delivering them out of the hands of their persecutors, for raising up friends in the times of their greatest need, and for leading them into a land of freedom where they might worship Him unmolested by civil or ecclesiastical power. To this day the 24th of September is so observed by this sect. The emigrants settled in Montgomery, Berks and Lehigh Counties.
  • First Moravian Church built at the S. E. Cor. Race and Bread streets. First type made by Christopher Sauer, Germantown.
  • First German Church built in Race Street Below Fourth. St. Michael's German Lutheran Church, corner of Fifth and Appletree Alley, built.
  • The Philadelphia Contributionship. The first fire insurance company in America.
  • April 15. The first theatrical performance given in Philadelphia, in a storehouse, Water Street, near Vine.
  • May 28. Cornerstone of the Pennsylvania Hospital laid.
  • Lottery schemes proposed and ran riot. Lottery held for disposing of 46 acres of land on Petty's Land on Petty's Island, the property of Alexander Alexander. Other projects were for the paving of streets in Philadelphia, and for the benefit of various churches.
  • May. District of Southwark created. Boundary, Delaware River, Cedar Street (South); thence west to the Passyunk Road, to the Moyamensing Road, by Keeler's Lane to the Greenwich Road to Delaware River
  • November. Organization of the first medical college in Pennsylvania, by Dr. Wm. Shippen, Jr. Located on Fourth Street, below Arch.
  • The Assembly this year resolved to provide the city a new jail, the one at southwest corner of Third and High (Market) Streets being confusedly and notoriously inefficient.
  • September 5. Provincial Congress met at Carpenters' Hall.
  • October 21. The building of Walnut Street prison authorized by act of Assembly.
  • Continental Congress in session at Philadelphia elects Benjamin Franklin (Printer) first Postmaster General of the United Colonies. (A Pony Express was established. In summer the mail left New York for Philadelphia twice a week and vice versa. In winter if mail came within two weeks, was considered good. Franklin, with his keen appreciation of all the advance of science, doubtless would be lost in admiration of those winged couriers of the skies who daily traverse the aerial paths from the Hudson to the Golden Gate and who now span the Continent in less time than it took in his day to transmit a letter from Boston to the Potomac.)
  • July 4. The Declaration of Independence adopted.
  • July 8. The Declaration of Independence read to the people from the Observatory, State House Yard, by John Nixon.
  • September 26. The British entered Philadelphia.
  • October 15. Battle of Germantown.
  • October 22. Battle of Red Bank.
  • November 15. Mud Fort evacuated, and taken by the British.
  • June 18. The British evacuated Philadelphia.
  • May 26. Act of Congress passed, authorizing the establishment of the Bank of North America. The bank opened January, 1783.
  • First Hebrew Synagogue built, Cherry Street, above Third.
  • January 14. Definitive treaty of peace with England ratified by Congress. Triumphal arch erected at "the upper end of High Street," then between Sixth and Seventh Streets.
  • July 20. First skiff steamboat navigated on the Delaware River, by John Fitch.
  • August 22. Steamboat forty-five feet long navigated on the Delaware River by John Fitch.
  • July. Steamboat navigated from Philadelphia to Burlington, New Jersey, by John Fitch.
  • March 11. Act to incorporate the city of Philadelphia passed by the Legislature.
  • October 12. David Cronan, Francis Burns, John Burnett, John Logan and John Ferguson hung at Centre Square for the murder of John McFarland.
  • First election of President of the United States.
  • April 17. (Saturday evening.) Death of Benjamin Franklin. Buried in Christ burying ground, southeast corner of Fifth and Arch St. In keeping with his wishes, the epitaph Franklin composed was not carved on his tombstone in Christ Church Cemetery, this city. The autograph "copy" of the epitaph in the Library of Congress is dated 1784 and reads:
    The body
    B. Franklin, printer
    (Like the cover of an old Book
    Its contents torn out
    And stripped of its lettering and gilding)
    Lies here, food for worms.
    But the work shall not be lost,
    For it will (as he believ'd) appear once more
    In a new and More elegant Edition
    Revised and corrected
    By the Author.
  • The Bank of North America abandoned the old system of keeping its accounts in pounds, shillings and pence and adopted that of dollars and cents.
  • April 2. Act passed establishing United States Mint in Philadelphia. Mint erected on the east side of Seventh Street, above Sugar Alley (afterward known as Farmer Street, now Filbert Street).
  • First Universalist Church built in Lombard Street, above Fourth.
  • March 23. The Assembly passed an act to extend the market house on High Street (Market) from Third to Fourth Street, and to extend it as occasion required, from street to street westward.
  • Yellow Fever. Deaths in August-November: 4,002.
  • April 18. District of Southwark incorporated.
  • Market house erected in the middle of Second Street to extend from Coates (Fairmount Avenue) to Popular Street.
  • The Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, the first in the United States, opened.
  • April. Ordinance passed compelling the owners and occupants of houses in the city in the city to provide and keep in repair any number of leathern buckets not exceeding six for each building, to be used in extinguishing fires.
  • Yellow Fever. Deaths, August-November, 1,292.
  • Yellow Fever. Deaths, August-November, 3,637.
  • March. An act was passed by the Legislature chartering "The Germantown and Reading Turnpike Road," said turnpike to commence at the intersection of Front Street with the Germantown Road, thence through Germantown to the top of Chestnut Hill and thence through Hickorytown, the Trappe, and Pottstown to Reading.
  • August 18. Arrival of General Thaddeus Kosciusko, the Polish Patriot. Received by a large gathering of citizens.
  • September 2. Bank of Pennsylvania entered at night and robbed of $162,821.61. Other banks becoming alarmed, transferred to Germantown. The streets at night being deserted due to the prevailing fever.
  • May 2. Work upon the Schuylkill Water Works, at Chestnut Street wharf and Centre Square commenced. First water thrown into the city January 21, 1801.
  • December 26. National Funeral Procession for George Washington (who had died at Mount Vernon on December 14). Thousands of mourners process from Congress Hall to the New (Zion) Lutheran Church, where Maj. Gen. Henry Lee eulogizes the former president as "First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen."

< 1600s 1800 >

Excerpted from "Happenings in ye Olde Philadelphia 1680-1900" by Rudolph J. Walther, 1925, Walther Printing House, Philadelphia, PA

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