Why Is Philadelphia the City of Brotherly Love?

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The Birth of Pennsylvania, 1680, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris - William Penn, holding paper, and King Charles II

The city of Philadelphia’s nickname is the City of Brotherly Love. But why is it called that?

What’s the meaning behind the phrase “City of Brotherly Love?” The moniker is Philadelphia’s famous nickname.

History of Philadelphia

The city of Philadelphia is located on the Delaware River in Pennsylvania and is the state’s largest city.

Founded in colonial America, Philadelphia grew into an important trading port and was a hub of Revolutionary activity. The city was the meeting place for Founding Fathers, the framers of the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin was a leading citizen of Philadelphia. Though today it is the fifth most populous city in the United States, it began as part of the Quaker colony of Pennsylvania.

Greek Name

The name “Philadelphia” is Greek in origin. It’s comprised of two Greek roots.

The Greek translation is literally “brotherly love.” The first part of the word comes from the Greek “philos,” which means love or loving. And the second part of the word comes from the Greek “adelphos” which means brother.

“Philadelphia” is a compound word construction of the Greek philos and adelphos. The word can be directly translated from its Greek origin to mean “brotherly love.” That Philadelphia is a city, of course, rounds out its nickname: City of Brotherly Love.

Living up to “City of Brotherly Love” Nickname

The colony of Pennsylvania was chartered to William Penn, who founded it as a Quaker colony. The Quakers believed in peace and religious tolerance, making the nickname “City of Brotherly Love” a fitting one for a Pennsylvania city.

However throughout its history Philadelphia has proven to be a welcome destination. Whether welcoming ships in its colonial port, welcoming tourists for a weekend visit, or welcoming an influx of residents in a population shift, Philadelphia has shown it is a destination that welcomes everyone: it is a city of brotherly love.

Its reputation today is underlined by the presence of the Liberty Bell. Perennially used as a symbol of freedom, the Liberty Bell has been a metaphor for Philadelphia but also has been a rallying call for such causes as civil rights, abolition, the poor and immigrants throughout history. The Liberty Bell museum in Philadelphia points out the journey of the Liberty Bells around the country, and its preservation in Philadelphia.

“Love” Sculpture in Philadelphia

Perhaps the most famous sculpture in Philadelphia is Love, the work of art by Robert Indiana. Created in 1976, “Love” prominently sits surrounded by a fountain in John F. Kennedy Plaza, in the Center City West portion of the city.

The Love statue’s location is often referred as Love Park. The well known image feature the letters L and O above a V and E. The O is at an angle. The work of art is a frequent symbol for the city.