City’s Celebration of William Penn – 375 years

October 18, 2019 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm America/New York Timezone
Philadelphia City Hall
1400 John F Kennedy Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Independence Visitors Center & Philadelphia Tour Guides

Philadelphia is having a 375th birthday party for its founder, William Penn, and the public is invited. The 90-minute celebration starts 4:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 18, on the City Hall Courtyard stage, Broad and Market Streets.

Sponsors of the event are the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides (APT), the Independence Visitor Center Corporation and City of Philadelphia.

Planned festivities include: lively music, a mural arts project, silhouette-making; handouts of historical information, reading of famous quotes by Philly’s founder, thoughts on William Penn by Rutgers professor Alexander R. Murphy – who will sign copies of his new Penn biography – some last-minute surprises, giveaways and much more.

Besides celebrating William Penn’s 375th birthday, party-goers will learn about his remarkable history and the impact Billy Penn still makes on our lives today. In the distant past, Philadelphia celebrated William Penn’s activities for one full week. Now, few area residents know much about him.

APT has hosted William Penn celebrations twice before: in 2016 at City Hall Courtyard; and in 2015 at Welcome Park near City Tavern on 2nd Street.

Key facts and figures: 

  • As part of his “Holy Experiment,” Penn invited people from around the world to worship as they saw fit. The result: even though Philadelphia was founded in 1682 – 58 years after New York City – by 1770 his “City of Brotherly Love” was the largest and most cultured city in America, and the place where America began.
  • Penn received 45,000 square miles of territory from Charles II of England for his colony in North America. The king named it Pennsylvania, or Penn’s Woods, after William Penn’s father, Admiral Sir William Penn. Even today, 58 percent of Pennsylvania is covered by forest, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell was ordered by the Pennsylvania Assembly to mark the 50th anniversary of Penn’s Charter of Privileges. That document laid out the rights and responsibilities of Pennsylvania citizens. The bell reportedly cracked during testing shortly after it arrived in Philadelphia.
  • Philadelphia became the U.S.’s first World Heritage City in 2015. Independence Hall was designated a World Heritage Site in 1979.
  • Thomas Jefferson called Penn the greatest law-giver the world has produced.”

Penn achieved remarkable results in Philadelphia – even though he spent less than four years here.

The party will take place rain or shine. For information, call: 610-506-3024.

Other William Penn 375 activities:

Oct. 12, 2109: APT certified guide Jim Murphy hosts a free 3-hour Jane’s Walk on William Penn, his “Howling Wilderness,” and how he transformed Philadelphia into the fastest growing city in the Colonies. It starts 10 a.m. at the National Constitution Center 525 Arch St., Phila. Jane’s Walks, held in honor of writer and urban activist Jane Jacobs, are more interactive and participatory than normal walking tours. No reservations are required. Just show up.

October 15, 2019; APT certified guide Elise Bromberg will talk about Penn’s life and legacy 6:30 p.m. at the Free Library’s Andorra Branch, 705 East Cathedral Road, Phila.