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Benjamin Franklin, a leading citizen, helped improve city services and founded new ones, such as fire protection, a library, and one of the American colonies' first hospitals.

A number of philosophical societies were formed, which were centers of the city's intellectual life: the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture (1785), the Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts (1787), the Academy of Natural Sciences (1812), and the Franklin Institute (1824).

By the 1750s, Philadelphia had surpassed Boston to become the largest city and busiest port in British America, and second in the British Empire after London. The free black community also established many schools for its children, with the help of Quakers.

The state capital was moved to Lancaster in 1799, then Harrisburg in 1812, while the federal government was moved to Washington, D. New York City surpassed Philadelphia in population by 1790.

Major corporations in the 19th and early 20th centuries included the Baldwin Locomotive Works, William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Immigrants, mostly from Ireland and Germany, settled in Philadelphia and the surrounding districts.

These immigrants were largely responsible for the first general strike in North America in 1835, in which workers in the city won the ten-hour workday.

In 1644, New Sweden supported the Susquehannocks in their military defeat of the English colony of Maryland.

In 1648, the Dutch built Fort Beversreede on the west bank of the Delaware, south of the Schuylkill near the present-day Eastwick neighborhood, to reassert their dominion over the area.

Penn planned a city on the Delaware River to serve as a port and place for government.

Large-scale construction projects for new roads, canals, and railroads made Philadelphia the first major industrial city in the United States.

Throughout the 19th century, Philadelphia hosted a variety of industries and businesses, the largest being textiles. Centennial, was celebrated in 1876 with the Centennial Exposition, the first official World's Fair in the United States.

Penn named the city Philadelphia, which is Greek for brotherly love (from philos, "love" or "friendship", and adelphos, "brother").

As a Quaker, Penn had experienced religious persecution and wanted his colony to be a place where anyone could worship freely.

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