10 Firsts That Occurred In Philadelphia

Philadelphia is home to the Philly Cheesesteak, the Liberty Bell, and a whole lot of history. If you look around the city, you might find “Pennsylvania” spelled “Pensylvania” at sites such as the Liberty Bell and in the Constitution – that’s no typo. It was an accepted spelling at the time. Another fun fact? That famous cheesesteak was originally cheese-less! Cheese was added to the sandwich in the 1940s.

An early U.S. capital, Philadelphia is home to a lot of national firsts. Here are 10 firsts that occurred in Philadelphia:

  • The Library Company of Philadelphia, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731, was the Nation’s first library. It served as the Library of Congress until 1800.
  • Franklin, along with Dr. Thomas Bond, also founded America’s first hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, in 1751. The first children’s hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, was founded in 1855.
  • Philadelphia is home to the country’s first art museum and school. The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts opened in 1805.
  • The nation’s first daily newspaper, The Philadelphia Packet and Daily Advertiser, was founded in Philadelphia in 1784 and was published for six years. (The Philadelphia Inquirer is the third-oldest daily newspaper still in publication.)
  • The University of Pennsylvania was the first university in the United States. It opened the first medical school in 1765 and the world’s first college-level business school, the Wharton School of Business, in 1881.
  • The world’s first electronic computer – the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer – was built in secret at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering.
  • The Philadelphia Zoo is the nation’s first zoo. It opened July 1, 1874, and is now home to more than 13,000 animals.
  • The first Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in Philadelphia in 1920. It is the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the country.
  • The Philadelphia Mint was the first federal building built under the Constitution in 1792. It took three years for it to make its first one million coins. Today, it makes that many in 22 hours.
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra has a lot of firsts. It was the first to appear on film in 1937, the first to appear on national television in 1948, and the first American orchestra to tour China in 1973.

Whether you want to make like Rocky and run the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, visit Pat’s King of Steak’s, home of the original Philly Cheesesteak, or see how many times you can find the word “Pensylvania” in the city, Philadelphia has something for everyone. Learn more about our programs to Philadelphia.

Article written by Sarah Wyland

Sarah Wyland
Sarah never gets in trouble for being on Facebook and Instagram at work, because its her job. As social media manager, she gets to tell the stories of travelers, teachers, and interesting places. Other titles she enjoys include dog mom to Knox, barre instructor, Crossfit athlete, avid reader, and world traveler.

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