The “City of Brotherly Love” or, as the locals idiomatically refer to it as, simply, “Philly,” is an area steeped in history – against the backdrop of its own metropolitan roots, the history of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania (only four such states to have the commonwealth designation in their charter), and against the birth of the United States as a nascent nation. And steeped also in history against the backdrop of the "Philly Cheesesteak", a sandwich so beloved in the city that when Burger King launched a “Philly Cheesesteak” on its menu, one that used American cheese versus the traditional Provolone or "Cheez Whiz", a Burger King in city center flat out refused to serve it.
But something you might not know – stay with me here – wait...is your mind adrift on a cheesy steak fantasy? Is that all it took?!? One mention of a sandwich – all right, all right, I'm hungry now, too, but let's just get through this... I promise, you won't regret it. You'll learn about a few of the firsts of Philly, and where you can catch some of them up close and personal when next you visit.
1. First Capital of the United States
You may know that the revolution began in this city, the constitution as well, but did you know that it was the first capital of the U.S.? It was the home to the capitol of the United States for the very first ten years of the country's existence. A United States history buff? Be sure to check out the Liberty Bell and the birthplace of the nation, Independence Hall (where the bell was originally located). And be sure to check out Carpenter's Hall, the actual site of the First Continental Congress.
2. The First U.S. Marine
Yep, Philadelphia is where the Marine Corps was born. A need was identified for a soldier that would be proficient in both maritime (ship-to-ship) and land based battles. It is commonly believed that the very first recruitment drive was held in Tun Tavern in Philly. Be sure to check it out (there is also a Tun Tavern that serves food and beverage, but that one is in New Jersey).
3. First U.S. Library
Founded by Ben Franklin in 1731, the Library Company is the very first library on United States soil. Besides borrowing books, the location has several seminars that might be of interest. Well, and of course just walking through the history of the place. Founded by Ben Freakin' Franklin!
4. The First U.S. Zoo
Yep. "Firsties"! The Philadelphia Zoo was the first in the United States and the only one of its kind anywhere in the New World when it opened. How old is it? So old its opening was delayed by the American Civil War. Still a wonderful attraction today, with plenty of species of animals to observe, but walking through it, you can't help but take in the wonder that it first charged $0.25 for admission when first opening its doors in 1874.
5. The First Hospital in the United States
OK now I'm making stuff up, I'm pretty sure... oh, wow, nope. It had the first hospital. Founded in 1751, Pennsylvania Hospital was the first hospital and was conceived, from its start, as a non-profit institution. On the bill which granted matching funds for construction, Ben Franklin wrote: 'I do not remember any of my political Manoeuvres, the Success of which gave me at the time more Pleasure.' Within this first, it itself had firsts (like something out of the movie Inception), including the very first medical library and first surgical amphitheater and more. And you don't have to be sick to check it out, as historical tours are available.
6. The First Baseball... something, something
OK, so I don't have a first per se, but they do have some history with the Philadelphia Phillies. It is a very old franchise, so of course it has some factoid to support it. The Phillies, renamed from the Quakers in 1884, are the longest continually playing team under one name in one location in the history of American Sports. Still not technically a first you say? Jeez. Ok, how about this: Both the Golden State Warriors NBA team and Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball club started in Philadelphia. So they played their first games there. Hey, it counts!!
And, if while visiting, you find that like thousands of people every year, you'd like to make the move to Philadelphia a more permanent one, count on us to help you through the process. We're standing by. Now let's go get that "Cheesesteak"!