November 9, 2009
Between the city’s museums, outdoor activities, restaurants, rich history and cultural quirks, Philadelphia is quite the catch. So, in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, we’re going to shine a light on all things Philly for which we’re thankful. (There’s a lot.) Today, it’s Philadelphia’s lengthy list of historical firsts.
I feel you â€” itâ€™s nice to say you were the original. Philly boasts some notable firsts, too.
1. One-man invention factory Benjamin Franklin developed the first bifocal glasses, Daylight Savings Time and the Franklin Stove. He also established the first public hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, in 1751 and the first fire department in 1736.
3. The nationâ€™s first stock exchange started here in 1790 as the Philadelphia Stock Exchange.
4. Richard Allen and Absalom Jones founded the Free African Society, the nationâ€™s first black self-help organization, in 1787.
5. In 1805, Charles Willson Peale founded the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, making it the nationâ€™s first art school and museum.
6. The United States Mint, the countryâ€™s first mint, opened in Philadelphia in 1792. (Does the coin in your pocket sport the letter P? If so, it was minted in Philly.)
7. The first hot air balloon in the U.S. was launched in 1793 from Washington Square, one of William Pennâ€™s original green squares.
8. When its gates opened in 1874, the Philadelphia Zoo became the nationâ€™s first zoo.
9. When Philadelphia opened Water Works in the 19th century, it was the countryâ€™s first municipal treatment center and became an international tourist attraction. Today, the architectural icon houses an environmental education museum and an upscale restaurant.
10. ENIAC, the worldâ€™s first computer, was developed more than 50 years ago at the University of Pennsylvania. Modern, easy-to-transport laptops seem light years ahead of this 150-foot-wide computer.
11. Wanamakerâ€™s (now Macyâ€™s) opened as the nationâ€™s first department store.
12. The Childrenâ€™s Hospital of Philadelphia, commonly called â€œCHOP,â€ opened as the first childrenâ€™s hospital in the U.S. in 1855.
13. Motherâ€™s Day was first celebrated in Philadelphia in 1907.
14. The first Jewish congregation in the city, Mikveh Israel was established in the 1740s and remains one of the oldest in the nation.
15. Founded in 1791 by Reverend Richard Allen, Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church was the worldâ€™s first African Methodist Episcopalian Church. Itâ€™s set on the oldest parcel of African-American-owned land in the country.
16. Philadelphia held the nationâ€™s first Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1920.
All selections taken from The Official Philly Brag Book.
The Official Philly Brag Book [gophila.com]