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PHL Brag List: Philadelphia Firsts

Storied Reading Terminal Market gets packed for lunch because it offers something for everyone to love.

Philadelphia has a lot to be proud of. Here’s a sampling.

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Or click to see more: Complete Philadelphia Brag List


  • The United States began in Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and signed.
  • Philadelphia’s Penn Relays is the oldest and largest amateur track-and-field relay.
  • The Italian Market is America’s oldest outdoor market.
  • One of the nation’s oldest and finest working farmers markets, Reading Terminal Market, houses more than 80 merchants, including Amish farmers.
  • The Walnut Street Theatre is the oldest continually operating theater in the US and was the first theater to install gas footlights and air conditioning.
  • Jewelers’ Row located on Sansom Street between 7th and 8th streets, is the nation’s first, and second-largest, diamond district.
  • Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest continuously inhabited street in the U.S.
  • The National Constitution Center holds the distinction of being the world’s only institution dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.
  • The first Congress of the United States met in Philadelphia in Congress Hall, adjacent to Independence Hall.
  • The first Jewish congregation in the city, Mikveh Israel was established in 1740 and remains one of the oldest in the nation.
  • Richard Allen and Absalom Jones founded the Free African Society, the nation’s first black self-help organization, in 1787.
  • The nation’s first stock exchange started here in 1790 as the Philadelphia Stock Exchange.
  • Founded in 1791 by Reverend Richard Allen, Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church was the first African Methodist Episcopalian Church. It’s set on the oldest parcel of African-American-owned land in the country.
  • The United States Mint, the country’s first mint, opened in Philadelphia in 1792.
  • The first hot air balloon in the U.S. was launched on January 9, 1793 from Independence Square.
  • In 1805, Charles Willson Peale founded the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, making it the nation’s first art school and museum.
  • In 1824, the Franklin Institute Science Museum was established as the first professional organization of mechanical engineers and professional draftsmen in the United States.
  • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) opened in 1855 as the nation’s first children’s hospital.
  • The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University displayed the first and most complete dinosaur skeleton ever discovered in 1858 — and it’s still on view today.
  • Approved by the Zoological Society of Philadelphia in March 1859, the Philadelphia Zoo is the nation’s first.
  • ENIAC, the world’s first computer, was developed more than 50 years ago at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • In 1959, Philadelphia became the first city to pass an ordinance mandating that all construction projects designate a certain percentage of the costs for public art.


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