What you need to know
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the fifth-most populous in the United States. It is notable for its rich history, on display at the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed) and other American Revolutionary sites. Also iconic are the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, immortalized by Sylvester Stallone’s triumphant run in the film “Rocky.” In the Northeastern United States, at the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, Philadelphia is the economic and cultural anchor of the Delaware Valley, a metropolitan area home to 7.2 million people and the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.
The area’s many universities and colleges make Philadelphia a top international study destination, as the city has evolved into an educational and economic hub. With a gross domestic product of $388 billion, Philadelphia ranks ninth among world cities and fourth in the nation. Philadelphia is the center of economic activity in Pennsylvania and is home to seven Fortune 1000 companies. The Philadelphia skyline is growing, with a market of almost 81,900 commercial properties in 2016 including several nationally prominent skyscrapers. The city is known for its arts, culture, and history, attracting over 39 million domestic tourists in 2013. Philadelphia has more outdoor sculptures and murals than any other American city, and Fairmount Park is the largest landscaped urban park in the world. The 67 National Historic Landmarks in the city helped account for the $10 billion generated by tourism. Philadelphia is the birthplace of the United States Marine Corps, and is also the home of many U.S.
Population: 1.553 million (2013)
Area: 141.7 mi²
The United States dollar sign: $; code: USD; also abbreviated US$ and referred to as the dollar, U.S. dollar, or American dollar is the official currency of the United States and its insular territories. It is divided into 100 smaller cent (¢) units. The circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Philadelphia falls in the northern periphery of the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen Cfa). Under the Trewartha climate classification, the city has a temperate maritime climate. Summers are typically hot and muggy, fall and spring are generally mild, and winter is cold.
Snowfall is highly variable, with some winters bringing only light snow and others bringing several major snowstorms, with the normal seasonal snowfall standing at 22.4 in (57 cm); snow in November or April is rare, and a sustained snow cover is rare. Precipitation is generally spread throughout the year, with eight to twelve wet days per month, at an average annual rate of 41.5 inches (1,050 mm).
As of 2010, 79.12% (1,112,441) of Philadelphia residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 9.72% (136,688) spoke Spanish, 1.64% (23,075) Chinese, 0.89% (12,499) Vietnamese, 0.77% (10,885) Russian, 0.66% (9,240) French, 0.61%(8,639) other Asian languages, 0.58% (8,217) African languages, 0.56% (7,933) Cambodian (Mon-Khmer), and Italian was spoken as a main language by 0.55% (7,773) of the population over the age of five. In total, 20.88% (293,544) of Philadelphia’s population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English.
The principle places that visitors are likely to see when they come to Philadelphia are, on a whole, extremely safe. While there are certainly parts of the city that struggle with crime, the chances that tourists will visit these areas are very very low. Center City and its immediate surrounding neighborhoods in particular have low crime rates. Wealthier neighborhoods, like Rittenhouse Square, Old City and Society Hill, are safe, as are most central districts, including the Art Museum Area, Chinatown, the Parkway, Northern Liberties/Fishtown and Bella Vista. Some personal crimes (break-ins, muggings, burglary, assault) happen but much less often than the media suggest.
be careful of traffic when crossing at major intersections—in Philadelphia, as in many major cities, one must always walk, cross, and drive defensively. The winding Schuylkill expressway provides some beautiful views, particularly around Boathouse Row, but do not try to enjoy them from your car; with the high speeds, the river on one side, and jagged rocks on the other, this is a sure way to cause an accident.
Philadelphia’s economic sectors include information technology, manufacturing, oil refining, food processing, health care, biotechnology, tourism, and financial services. Financial activities account for the largest sector of the metropolitan area’s economy, and it is one of the largest health education and research centers in the United States.
The city is home to the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and some of the area’s largest companies including cable television and internet provider Comcast, insurance companies Colonial Penn, CIGNA, Independence Blue Cross, energy company Sunoco, food services company Aramark and Crown, chemical makers Rohm and Haas and FMC, pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, and automotive parts retailer Pep Boys.
There are plenty of public transportation options to get around the downtown core of Philadelphia. Busses, trains, and trolleys gather at 30th St. Station and the 69th St. Transportation Centre.
SEPTA BUS runs an extensive bus network in Philadelphia. Buses are a convenient (if slow) method of getting almost anywhere within the city. On-time performance is relatively lacking especially in the suburbs, and it’s bound to happen to you at least once in a weekend if you take the bus heavily. Frequencies are spotty in the outer suburbs so plan ahead.
Phlash Bus. Philadelphia has a seasonal (May-October) trolley bus for tourists called the Phlash. It runs in a 20-stop East-West circuit of major tourist locations, from the Museum of Art in the West to Penn’s Landing in the East. Free for kids under 5. Look for the purple trolley bus or the winged purple & blue logo.
The hubs for regional rail (commuter) are Suburban and Jefferson (formerly Market East) Stations in Center City and 30th Street Station (just outside Center City with connections to Amtrak). Major subway/elevated/trolley transfer stations are located at City Hall/15th Steet (adjacent to Suburban Station), 8th Street (connecting several SEPTA lines and PATCO), and 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby.
Taxis are regulated by the Philadelphia Parking Authority and display a medallion license on their hood. All taxis are metered.
SEPTA operates 8 trolleys lines, including the 5 aforementioned subway-surface branch lines, as well as two suburban trolley lines that travel from the 69th St Terminal in Upper Darby. The 101 line travels to Media, while the 102 line travels to Sharon Hill, both in Delaware County.
SEPTA operates two elevated/subway lines, and a Subway-Surface line that serve Center City Philadelphia as well as the smaller neighborhoods on the city’s fringe.