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William Penn Strategically Planned the City of Philadelphia

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When William Penn strategically planned the city of Philadelphia, he envisioned a city dissimilar to London of the 1660s; however, it was London's hardships that caused Penn to lay the blue-print for an unconventional city. Penn wanted Philadelphia to be different from London in several areas: communication, design and layout, and religion.

Penn was in his twenties during the 1660s in London, which was a time when people lived in the overcrowded city experienced two major atrocities. In 1665 the Bubonic Plague hit the people of London, which killed thousands and instilled the fear of God in most. Then, in 1666, the Great Fire wiped out most of peoples' homes. The people believed the tragedies were an act of God as a result of their sins. As a result of the plague and the fire, Penn wanted to plan the design and layout of Philadelphia in a particular way. He granted the Thomas Holme as Surveyor General of Pennsylvania in 1682, who laid out the early groundwork of Philadelphia. Jasper Dankcaerts writes about early Philadelphia,

"...the city stretched two miles east to west across a neck of land between the two rivers and one mile north to south along the Delaware. The giant rectangular lot comprised twelve thousand acres."

Penn imagined the design and layout of Philadelphia as a "greene country towne." He wanted the city to be a place that would be free of rampant disease and treacherous fires, therefore he wanted each allotment of land to be spread out giving neighbors plenty of space. He set up public buildings that would boarder a center square and established quadrants for parks and green-space. Penn, being influenced by 17th century London, strived to make Philadelphia "wholesome."

Early 17th century in London prospered in the arts, especially when theater became a popular form of expression during Shakespeare's era. This form of expression inspired a creative era, which led to more curiosity into science and exploration. However, people of London were still very illiterate and became victims of poverty. Penn did not want Philadelphia to fall victim to such penury; therefore he created a city with state-of-the-art communication capacity and a substantial marketing scheme.

London during the 1660s was strict and not religious-tolerant. Penn was a Quaker and believed in love and friendship, as well as justice for all. He was willing to accept any persons who believed in a God to come to Philadelphia. Penn truly wanted to create a religious community, opposite of the strict Puritanism found in London.

In the areas of communication, design and layout, and religion Philadelphia differed from London.



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