Most other cities call their main business districts “downtown,” but in Philadelphia, that name never took hold. Instead, Philadelphians know it as Center City. But how did it get that name and how long has it been in use? That was the question a reader asked through Curious Philly, the forum through which Inquirer reporters answer queries about the city and the region. There is no definitive answer, but a possible one can be found in history and the bottom-up power of language usage.
When William Penn founded Philly in 1682, the city’s limits extended from the Delaware River to the Schuylkill in between South and Vine Streets, an area incorporating 2.25 square miles and also the footprint of the current Center City. The city itself, which Penn chartered in 1701, was part of a better Philadelphia Region that expanded from the Delaware River to what is currently part of Berks County as well as was bordered to the north by Bucks County and to the south by Chester County. As new areas were developed as well as borders are redrawn, Philly Area by 1854 involved encompasses the city, 13 townships, 6 districts, and 9 areas, every one of which had their very own regulations and governments.
That year, the Act of Loan consolidation combined those different entities right into the City of Philly in a proposal to make the county extra governable at once when its population was growing rapidly, thanks to waves of immigration. With the city now encompassing the entire county, what had been the Penn’s City of Philadelphia now was a nameless section in the much-bigger entity. According to the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, one name that appeared was “Old City Proper,” a usage that lingered into the 1920s. In the early 20th century, “Center of City” also started appearing in the headlines. “Just How Real Estate Rises in Center City,” claimed one heading in 1906. “1000 New Lamps Flooding Center of City with Light,” read one more from 1910. In the 1920s, the name Center City started to appear in ads, including those promoting countries’ residential or commercial properties for their ease to Philly’s downtown. In July 1922, two workers were killed and 17 others injured when a roof collapsed at a building at Broad and Cherry Streets that was being converted into the Center City Office Building.
“During the 1920s and 1930s, Center City became more common as a place name in advertising, in the names of buildings, and in city government communication,” according to the encyclopedia. “Thereafter, embraced by city planners as well as organizations such as the Center City Residents Association, Center City dominated as the name for the old city proper.” So by 1947, Center City was the generally recognized name for Penn’s original City of Philadelphia. You can check out our data recovery such as Center City recovery data, we can help you in restoring your data around the area of Center City. We can provide a fast and high quality service for you. While staying in the Center City, you can visit and enjoy the many activities that the city can offer you.