Why Philadelphia is Called Philadelphia

Why Philadelphia is Called PhiladelphiaPHILADELPHIA, PA - Philadelphia, commonly called "Philly" by its residents, has a reputation for being one of the most corrupt and colorful cities in America.  Yet its reputation is rooted in much more than its brashness and booing fans. 

Why Philadelphia is Called Philadelphia


The name Philadelphia is believed to be derived from the Greek phrase "city of brotherly love." Many people know that Philadelphia's founder William Penn was a Quaker who named the city in honor of an ancient Greek town, but there are a few other details to consider.

How Philadelphia Got Its Name

In 1682, an English aristocrat and Quaker, William Penn, laid out the plans for what would eventually become Philadelphia.  Penn envisioned the city as a place of peace, brotherly love, and steadfast faith where people from all religious backgrounds could live together peacefully.

When Penn founded Philadelphia, he named it after the ancient city of Philadelphia that was praised in a letter by Jesus to John of Patmos in the Book of Revelation. That letter evoked an image of the ancient city of Philadelphia, where people lived in peace and faith, so it's no surprise that Penn chose the name "Philadelphia" for the new city he built.

The ancient city of Philadelphia wasn't in Pennsylvania, but it was in Asia Minor - modern-day Turkey. The king who founded the ancient city of Philadelphia was named Attalos II.

This king was known for his loyalty to his brother and had the nickname "Philadelphos." He founded the city in honor of his brother's legacy.

During the Christian era, this image of Philadelphia as a place of brotherly love and peace was so influential that European people started referring to the city as "The City of Brotherly Love." This name stuck with the early Christians.

When the United States became a nation, Philadelphia was one of the first cities to join the Union, and its shipyards supplied munitions for wars across the globe. It was also a center for racial tensions and poverty.