Is Philadelphia A State?

Northeast US map showing location of the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In the vast landscape of American geography, questions surrounding the classification of various regions often arise. One such query pertains to Philadelphia.

Philadelphia, commonly referred to as “Philly,” has a rich historical significance and cultural influence in the United States. Many people, especially those unfamiliar with American geography, wonder if it is a state.

In this post, we will cover the geographical classification of Philadelphia and explore its historical background, ultimately answering the question: Is Philadelphia a state?

A State or Not

Philadelphia, known for its rich history, exquisite buildings, sports teams and busy streets, is not a state; it is a city located in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, one of fifty states comprising the United States of America. Situated in the northeastern part of the country, Pennsylvania shares its borders with New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is divided into 67 counties, with Philadelphia County being one of them. The City of Philadelphia and Philadelphia County share the same geographical boundaries. The city serves as both the county seat and is the largest city in the state.

North side of downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

With a population of over 1.5 million residents, it ranks as the sixth most populous city in the United States. The city’s diverse demographics contribute to its lively atmosphere and distinctive charm, making it an attractive destination for visitors and residents alike.

Philadelphia spans approximately 135 square miles and is situated along the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. It is renowned for its significant role in American history, serving as a backdrop for pivotal events such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the drafting of the Constitution.

In addition to its historical importance, it boasts a thriving arts and culture scene, encompassing various museums, galleries, and performing arts venues. It is also home to prestigious educational institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and Temple University, attracting students from around the globe.

Rack full of hot soft pretzels

Furthermore, the culinary scene is diverse and celebrated, featuring iconic dishes such as the Philly cheesesteak and soft pretzels. The city also showcases an array of architectural styles, ranging from colonial-era buildings to modern skyscrapers. Its rich heritage, vibrant arts scene, and dynamic urban landscape make it a captivating destination for tourists and residents alike.

Keystone Answers Fun Fact: In 1883, the establishment of the Phillies marked a significant moment in sports history. As a result, the Phillies hold the distinction of being the oldest, uninterrupted, single-name, single-city franchise across all professional sports. This remarkable achievement underscores the team’s enduring legacy and its deep-rooted connection with the city of Philadelphia.

Historical Significance of Philadelphia

Philadelphia holds a special place in U.S. history, as it played a pivotal role during the nation’s founding. Established in 1682 by William Penn, an English Quaker, it was intended to serve as the capital of the Pennsylvania Colony.

In the years leading up to the American Revolution, the city became a hub for political activity and played host to numerous vital events. Here, the Founding Fathers convened to draft and sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the United States Constitution in 1787.

The city also served as the temporary capital of the United States from 1790 to 1800 before it was moved to Washington, D.C.

The Origins of Philadelphia’s Name

The name Philadelphia has its origins in the ancient Greek language, derived from two words: “philos,” meaning love or friendship, and “adelphos,” meaning brother. When combined, Philadelphia translates to “City of Brotherly Love.” 

The city owes its moniker to its founder, William Penn, who sought to create a haven for religious freedom, tolerance, and harmony among its inhabitants. Penn envisioned a place where people could coexist peacefully, fostering strong bonds of brotherly love.

Thus, he chose the name to encapsulate his aspirations for this new settlement in the Pennsylvania Colony when he founded the city. The name continues to resonate today as a testament to the city’s enduring spirit of unity and camaraderie.

Liberty Bell seen through glass building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Notable Landmarks and Cultural Influence

Philadelphia is home to many landmarks that hold historical and cultural significance. Among these are Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed, and the Liberty Bell, a symbol of American independence. The city also houses the National Constitution Center, a museum dedicated to educating visitors about the history and significance of the U.S. Constitution.

In addition to its historical landmarks, it boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene. The city is known for its iconic public art installations, such as the LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana and the Rocky statue, inspired by the famous movie series. Philadelphia is also home to numerous museums, galleries, and performing arts venues, making it a cultural hub in the region.

Mystery Solved

In conclusion, Philadelphia is not a state but a city located within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Its rich historical background and cultural influence make it an important and fascinating destination for those interested in learning about the founding of the United States. While it may not have the official status of a state, Philadelphia undeniably holds a unique and vital place in American history.

Photo of author


Pennsylvania is my home state; I reside on the original homestead settled by my forefathers in the early 1800s. Surrounded by thousands of acres of state land, I enjoy the serenity and quiet of rural Pennsylvania. I like ATVing, observing wildlife, sitting around the campfire, photography, and hiking.