Gateway to the Classics: Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis
Stephen of Philadelphia by  James Otis

Choosing the Place for the City

When warm weather came again, we no longer had time for spoon-making, for shipload after shipload of people came over from England until, so my father believed, we had no fewer than nine hundred, counting men, women, and children, living as best they might along the river at whatsoever point seemed to them the most likely place for the building of the city.

Thomas Holme, who was to decide the matter, acting upon advice from William Penn, had already come among us, and went here and there, in the company of the chief men, until he was convinced that he had found the one place of all others for our city of Philadelphia.

We who had come over in the John and Sarah were more than satisfied with his choice, for, if you please, he had hit upon the very spot where we had dug our caves, and thus, by merest chance, had we come to that section of the country of Pennsylvania where we had most wanted to be.

William Penn had already made a plan of what the city should be, and Thomas Holme so marked it out that the location would stretch from river to river, as may be seen in the map which I have copied down here, with a plot in the very center where was to be left a space of ten acres to be used as a playground.


It can well be understood that within an hour after Thomas Holme had laid out the city amid the wilderness, those who, like my father, had bought land within the limits of the town, were eager to settle upon such places as were to be theirs, and after these matters had been arranged there was no more spoon-making for Jethro and me, because of our fathers' being bent on building houses without delay, when, as a matter of course, we lads were to do our full share of the work.

The people began to name the streets as soon as Thomas Holme had them marked out, and father believes it has been done properly, since, instead of calling them for great people in England, they are named for whatsoever comes nearest to describing them.

Because of its being on the highest land, that road which runs through the middle of the new town is called High Street, and you may be certain there has been a good, sensible reason for all that has been done in the way of bestowing names, which is far more than can be said for some of the cities in England.

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