chapter  8
Philadelphia – The Urban Design of Philadelphia: Taking the Towne for the City
Pages 34

William Penn developed the plan of what is now known as center-city Philadel-

phia in the middle of the seventeenth century. Penn’s plan for Philadelphia, an

alloy of Quaker Utopianism and colonial real-estate speculation, is distinguished

not only for its influence as a prototype in the founding of subsequent Amer-

ican cities, but for the ways in which its basic outlines have continued to

endure in the form of the city’s historical center. Although not unique among

North American cities for having been established with a deliberate plan,

Philadelphia’s evolution over the past three centuries presents an singularly

important case through which to examine the interplay between the concepts

embodied in an originating plan, the material characteristics of the plan itself,

and the historical circumstances that transform, usurp or supersede that plan.