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This tolerance, far more than afforded by most other colonies, led to better relations with the local native tribes and fostered Philadelphia's rapid growth into America's most important city.

The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

Benjamin Franklin, a leading citizen, helped improve city services and founded new ones, such as fire protection, a library, and one of the American colonies' first hospitals.

A number of philosophical societies were formed, which were centers of the city's intellectual life: the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture (1785), the Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts (1787), the Academy of Natural Sciences (1812), and the Franklin Institute (1824).

By the 1750s, Philadelphia had surpassed Boston to become the largest city and busiest port in British America, and second in the British Empire after London. The free black community also established many schools for its children, with the help of Quakers.

The state capital was moved to Lancaster in 1799, then Harrisburg in 1812, while the federal government was moved to Washington, D. New York City surpassed Philadelphia in population by 1790.

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