A view of a monument in Philadelphia...

Established: 1682
Established by: England

Before the Europeans the site of Philadelphia was home to the Lenape Indians (members of the Delaware Nation).  Europeans arrived to the Delaware Valley in the early 1600s, with the first settlements founded by the Dutch, British and Swedish.

The Swedes sought to expand their influence by creating an agricultural (tobacco) and fur-trading colony to bypass French and British merchants.  The New Sweden Company was created and supported by Swedish, Dutch and German stockholders.  The colony established by this company was called New Sweden.
In 1644, New Sweden supported their fur trading allies the Susquehannocks against the English of the Maryland Colony.  New Sweden gradually came under the control of the Dutch.  However, this all changed with the English conquest of New Netherland in October 1663-1664 (and continued unofficially until the English finally included the settlement in the new colony of Pennsylvania (1682).

The colony took its name from its founder William Penn.  Penn was a Quaker—a relatively obscure Christian sect—who experienced religious intolerance back in England.  He hoped to create a colony where anyone could worship freely irrespective of their religion.  Consequently, he named the main settlement Philadelphia (which is Greek for “brotherly love”).

Throughout the 18th Century, Philadelphia grew into an important commercial trading center.  Conditions in the city were poor at first, but by the 1750s living conditions had improved.  A significant contributor to Philadelphia at the time was Benjamin Franklin.  Franklin helped improve city services and founded new ones, such as the Thirteen Colonies first hospital.

Due to Philadelphia's central location in the colonies, during the American Revolution the city was used as the location for the First Continental Congress before the outbreak of war and the Second Congress which signed into law the United States Declaration of Independence.

Philadelphia served as the first (but temporary) capital of the United States until the permanent capital was established in 1791 at Washington, D. C.