Major corporations in the 19th and early 20th centuries included the Baldwin Locomotive Works, William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Immigrants, mostly from Ireland and Germany, settled in Philadelphia and the surrounding districts.
These immigrants were largely responsible for the first general strike in North America in 1835, in which workers in the city won the ten-hour workday.
The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.Large-scale construction projects for new roads, canals, and railroads made Philadelphia the first major industrial city in the United States.Throughout the 19th century, Philadelphia hosted a variety of industries and businesses, the largest being textiles. Centennial, was celebrated in 1876 with the Centennial Exposition, the first official World's Fair in the United States.These societies developed and financed new industries, attracting skilled and knowledgeable immigrants from Europe. The city remained the young nation's largest until the late 18th century, being both a financial and a cultural center for America.Philadelphia's importance and central location in the colonies made it a natural center for America's revolutionaries. In 1816, the city's free black community founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), the first independent black denomination in the country, and the first black Episcopal Church.Hoping that Philadelphia would become more like an English rural town instead of a city, Penn laid out roads on a grid plan to keep houses and businesses spread far apart, with areas for gardens and orchards.The city's inhabitants did not follow Penn's plans, however, as they crowded by the Delaware River port, and subdivided and resold their lots.Benjamin Franklin, a leading citizen, helped improve city services and founded new ones, such as fire protection, a library, and one of the American colonies' first hospitals.A number of philosophical societies were formed, which were centers of the city's intellectual life: the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture (1785), the Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts (1787), the Academy of Natural Sciences (1812), and the Franklin Institute (1824).This tolerance, far more than afforded by most other colonies, led to better relations with the local native tribes and fostered Philadelphia's rapid growth into America's most important city.Penn planned a city on the Delaware River to serve as a port and place for government.