Philadelphia Colonial History Tour

Enrich your understanding of Colonial Philadelphia during the dawn of the American Revolution
From US$325 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
  • Powel House
  • Christ Church
  • St. Peter's Church
  • Independence Mall
Photos & Highlights
  • Get the full picture of Philadelphia through social, architectural, and political lenses including insider tips along the way
  • Led by a local historian
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Tour Description
Founded in the 17th century by William Penn as a haven for persecuted Quakers, Philadelphia quickly became the most important city in America. By the dawn of the revolution it was the largest English-speaking city in the world outside of London. Covering some of the most significant sites in Old City Philadelphia, this Philadelphia History Tour explores the social and political mechanisms that defined the city and set the stage for the Declaration of Independence and the Continental Congress.

Philadelphia History Tour

We begin our Philadelphia History Tour with the plan of the city and a discussion of the critical figure of William Penn, founding father of the colony of Pennsylvania and architect—in a very real sense—of the city of Philadelphia. Using the plaza-scale plan of the city located near Second Street as our reference point, we'll look at how Penn's rational plan set the stage for an explosion of commerce and trade and the influx of immigrants from all over the world. As we make our way through the well-preserved historic core of the city, past buildings that still stand after more than 200 years, we'll look at some of the key themes that defined Philadelphia in those early years including Quakerism, religious tolerance, and unfettered trade.

A Glimpse at the Past in Historic Philadelphia

Depending on venue visiting hours, our Philadelphia History Tour may also take us into historic houses and house museums along streets dating to the 18th century, and as well as some of the churches that played a role in the founding of the U.S. These may include Carpenter's Hall, Old St. Mary's, St. Peter's, and Independence Hall. As we walk we'll move forward through history to discuss how the city evolved socially, architecturally, and politically through the colonial period until the dawn of the revolution. As this area of the city saw the construction of some of the largest houses, we'll focus specifically on the emergence of a wealthy merchant class in the 18th century and how they defined the city at the dawn of Independence and through the war.

Take Aways

We will typically end our Philadelphia History Tour at Headhouse Market in Society Hill, a historic center of trade in the city that is today the most vibrant farmer's market in Center City. This walking tour is a good introduction to Philadelphia during the colonial period and exploration of the major sites in Old City south of Market Street. 

To explore colonial Philadelphia in even more depth, we recommend our Ben Franklin Tour. For a look at late-19th century opulence, try our Philadelphia Architecture Tour


Does this tour visit the interiors of the venue stops as well?
This tour includes only exteriors as it's a walking history tour. Depending on your interests and venue opening hours, you may have the opportunity to enter 1 or 2 venues along the way. It is a good idea to carry some cash in case you choose to enter a stop along the way, at your own expense.

Where You'll Start
(4.83) 87 Reviews

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Fantastic tour with John! We learned so much. Thank you.
I'll send an in-depth review of tour experience under separate cover. Indeed, it was so bad that such a letter is warranted.
John has a wonderful command of the history of Philadelphia and the Colonial Period. John adjusted the tour based on our interests and was a wealth of knowledge.