It seems strange now to think that Norwegians once claimed ownership of Philadelphia County. They did not endure, however, and lost control to England in 1674. William Penn, for whom the state is named, received his charter for Pennsylvania from Charles II of England in 1681, divided Pennsylvania into three counties, and declared Philadelphia the county seat and the capital of the Province of Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia, meaning “brotherly love,” and named after the city that was spared in the Book of Revelation, was the location where Penn hoped to fulfill his dream of a county where religious tolerance and the freedom to worship were ensured.
The City of Brotherly Love has become racially and ethnically tolerant over the years, or at least diverse. The city has some of the largest Puerto Rican, Italian, Korean, Vietnamese, Russian, Ukrainian, Jamaican, Chinese, Arab, Irish, Thai and Cambodian populations in America, as well as the fourth-largest concentration of African Americans in North America.
The 2010 census for Philadelphia County showed the population had grown to 1,526,006, making it the most populous county in the state. Part of the Delaware Valley area, the county has a total area of 142.6 square miles of land, and incorporates the Delaware River, Schuylkill River, Cobbs Creek, Wissahickon Creek and Pennypack Creek.
Notable residents include actor Lionel Barrymore of the Hollywood-royalty Barrymore family, most famous as the character of Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life. The county was also home to American Bandstand, the iconic music-performance show that aired from 1952 to 1989 and was hosted by Dick Clark.
Philadelphia County has voted Democrat in every presidential election since 1932. On numerous occasions, it has been the only county in the state to vote for a Democrat.