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Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley
& Tornado Alley
USA

THE ECONOMIC HISTORY OF
PHILADELPHIA

William Penn acquired the territory which became Pennsylvannia in 1681 as a place of settlement for England's Quakers. Penn had Philadelphia, The City of Brotherly Love, laid out in 1682 at the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. This location gave Philadelphia access to the inland agricultural areas and to sources of coal and iron ore for its iron industry. By 1700 it had grown to a population of 10,000 and was said to be the equal of New York in trade and wealth. The policy of religious toleration attracted great numbers of German, Scot-Irish and English immigrants.

By the 1770's Philadelphia had a population of 30,000 and was the third most important business center in the British Empire, exceeded only by London and Liverpool. Everyone in Philadelphia seemed to be engaged in trade. Lumber and wood products were shipped to the Carribean to exchange for sugar and rum which were carried to England to be exchanged for manufactured goods. Philadelphia surpassed New York in commerce until about 1819 and in finance until about 1850. Philadelphia was also a major center of the industrial revolution in America.


As an example of the role Philadelphia played in the past consider the early development of television. Philo Farnsworth as a fifteen year old highschool student in Idaho, conceived the electronic basis for capturing and transmitting pictures. This was in contrast to the mechanical basis others were using for creating pictures for broadcast. Farnsworth received venture capital backing to perfect his method and he carried out this research in San Francisco. When Farnsworth had perfected the method and was ready to implement it his operation was moved to Philadelphia, then the high tech center for the U.S.

(To be continued.)


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