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: Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Map Image:Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County.

Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
Map
Image:Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County.svg
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Statistics
Formed November, 1682
Seat Philadelphia
Area
- Total
- Land
- Water

369 km² (143 mi²)
350 km² (135 mi²)
20 km² (8 mi²), 5.29%
Population
-(2000)
- Density

1,517,550
4,337.3/km²

Philadelphia County is a county located in the U.S. State of Pennsylvania. It is conterminous with the city of Philadelphia which also serves as its seat. As of 2000, the population is 1,517,550. Philadelphia County is one of the three original counties, along with Chester, and Bucks counties, created by William Penn in November 1682.

Contents

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 369.4 km² (142.6 mi²). 349.9 km² (135.1 mi²) of it is land and 19.6 km² (7.6 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 5.29% water. Bodies of water include the Delaware River, Schuylkill River, Cobbs Creek, Wissahickon Creek, and Pennypack Creek.

The lowest point in the city lies 10 feet above sea level near Fort Mifflin in Southwest Philadelphia at the convergence of the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. The highest point is in Chestnut Hill, at 432 feet above sea level, near Evergreen Place, just north and west of Evergreen Avenue.

Adjacent Counties

History

Tribes of Delaware Indians were the original occupants in the area, which would become Philadelphia County. The first European settlers would be groups of Swedes and Finns who arrived in 1638. The Dutch then seized the area in 1655, but permanently lost control to England in 1674. William Penn’s charter for Pennsylvania was received from Charles II of England in 1681, and was followed by Penn’s November 1682 division of Pennsylvania into three counties. In the same year Philadelphia was laid out, it was also made the county seat and the capital of the Province of Pennsylvania.

Penn wanted Philadelphia, meaning "brotherly love," to be a place where religious tolerance and the freedom to worship were ensured.http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi/jb/colonial/penn_3 These principles of American culture were unique in the world at the time of Philadelphia's founding. Philadelphia's name is shared with the ancient Asia Minor city spared in the Book of Revelation in the Quaker Bible. It was William Penn's prayer that his "Holy Experiment"http://www.pym.org/exhibit/p078.html would be found blameless at The Last Judgment.

When established, Philadelphia County comprised mainly of the area from the Delaware River west between the Schuylkill River to the south and the border with Bucks County to the north, the western boundary was undefined. Two counties would be formed out of Philadelphia County, Berks County which was formed in 1752 (from parts of Chester, Lancaster, and Philadelphia counties), and Montgomery County established in 1784. From these separations, as well as other border moves, come the present day boundaries of the county.

City of Philadelphia, as laid out by Penn, comprised only that portion of the present day city situated between South and Vine Streets and Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. Other settlements were made outside of the boundaries of the city, and in the course of time they became separately incorporated and had separate governments.

Several of these settlements were situated immediately contiguous to the "city proper" of Philadelphia such as Southwark and Moyamensing in the south, the Northern Liberties District, Kensington, Spring Garden and Penn District to the north, and West Philadelphia and Blockley to the west — which combined with the City of Philadelphia formed practically one town continuously built up, the whole group being known abroad simply as Philadelphia.

Besides these, there were a number of other outlying townships, villages and settlements throughout the county. Over time though, as the population expanded out from the City of Philadelphia, those closer to the City of Philadelphia became absorbed in the congeries of towns of which greater Philadelphia was composed. While those further away from the city often joined with other townships, villages and settlements to form the newer counties of Berks and Montgomery.

During this period, the city government of Philadelphia and the county government of Philadelphia acted separately. By the mid-19th century, it was clear that a more structured government bureaucracy was needed. A reform charter, on February 2, 1854, brought all the boroughs, townships and districts of the County of Philadelphia within the City of Philadelphia, thus abolishing the patchwork of cities, boroughs, and townships that made up Philadelphia County since its founding.

The city-county consolidation was a result of the inability of a colonial-type government by committees to adapt to the needs of a growing city for new public services, e.g., better streets, police, transportation, sanitation, and schools.

The newly integrated districts had marked characteristics between them, but over time, after the consolidation, these characteristics generally integrated into the City of Philadelphia know today. Today though the names of some of these districts are synonymous with neighborhoods in city, with the boundaries of which roughly matching their historic boundaries.

In 1951, a new initiative called the Home Rule Charter fully merged city and county offices. This new charter provided the city with a common structure and outlined the "strong mayor" form of government that is still used today.

The county offices were merged with the city government in 1952, effectively eliminating the county as a governmental structure in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Even though the county no longer has a government structure by law, in both the Unconsolidated Pennsylvania Statutes and The Philadelphia Code and Charter, the County of Philadelphia is still an entity within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is thus subject to the provisions and laws of the Commonwealth concerning counties. Exceptions include restrictions stated in the Home Rule Charter of Philadelphia, Act of Consolidation, 1854, and subsequent legislation. The county also is the only First Class County, meaning it had a population of 1.5 million or above as of the last census, in the Commonwealth.

Government

Currently Philadelphia County has no government structure, although this has not always been the case. Prior to the Act of Consolidation in 1854 a Board of Commissioners in accordance with the law of Pennsylvania at the time, governed the county.

The origins of the Board of Commissioners are found in the office of Tax Assessor in Philadelphia County, established by an Act of the Pennsylvania General Assembly on 27 November 1700. Tax Assessor was an office of six persons, elected annually to estimate the County's fiscal needs, to make an assessment and levy a tax to meet them, and to appoint its collectors and the County Treasurer.

On 28 March 1710 the Assembly approved an act that created an appointed Board of County Commissioners, this would change to a popularly elected board in 1725. The Commissioners were empowered to demand accountings of the Assessors and Collectors and to appoint new collectors if necessary. Subsequent acts passed by the Assembly in 1715, 1718, and 1722 expanded the power and the scope of the Board, granting the Commissioners authority to share with the assessors in the assessment process and in the allocation of tax receipts among the various county projects, to take part in the appointment of the County Treasurer, and to issue warrants and levy fines against delinquent taxpayers and collectors. Other Acts passed during the eighteenth century would give the Commissioners regulatory powers and maintenance functions in regard to county lands, roads, bridges, wharves and landings, courts, and the county prison.

In 1780, the Assembly would pass an Act that abolished the Board of County Assessors and left their functions in the hands of the Commissioners alone, who continued to appoint the assessors and collectors of each of the county's boroughs, townships, and districts. Further legislation in 1799 and 1805 formally established the Commissioners' functions of furnishing lists of voters to election officers and aiding the Sheriff in the selection of jurors, as both were based upon lists of taxpayers. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the Commissioners' duties were further increased to include the leasing of polling places, the provision of ballot boxes, and related duties.

The consolidation of the City and County of Philadelphia in 1854 abolished the Board of County Commissioners, with most of their functions transferred to the popularly elected City Commissioners who, although retaining their original title and duties, were thenceforth considered County officers. Because the City Commissioners were considered County officers, they were still regulated by State laws concerning County Commissioners. The City Commissioners should not be confused with the City Council, as these are two separate entity.

Even though the governments of the both the City and County were effectively consolidated by the, Act of Consolidation, not all offices and agencies, such as the Board of Inspectors of the County Prison (Philadelphia Prison System), Coroner, Recorder of Deeds, and Sheriff, that were under the control of the county prior to the consolidation were transferred to the city, though their oversight and regulation were now handled by the City Commissioners. Other offices and agencies, like that of Offices of City Tax Collector and County Tax Collector were reduced to that of clerk in the new office of Receiver of Taxes. Both Commissioners' (City and County) powers in regard to streets and City property were transferred to the City's Departments of Highways and City Property. From 1854 until 1867, the Commissioners also served as members of the Board of Revision of Taxes. In 1867 the City Assessors were made appointees of that Board.

The powers left the Commissioners were chiefly accounting ones over County institutions, regulatory duties regarding weights and measures (given them by an Act of 1895) and administrative functions in connection with elections, which culminated in complete control of their conduct with the formation of the County Board of Elections under their direction in 1937.

Although not mentioned in the Philadel

hia Home Rule Charter, the City Commissioners' Office became part of the City government by way of the 1951 City-County Amendment to the State Constitution. In addition, the 1963 amendment to the First Class Cities Home Rule Act gave City Council the power to pass legislation with regard to operations of the City Commissioners' Office. The 1965 City-County Consolidation Ordinance of City Council further enabled these enactments.



Districts, Townships and Boroughs of the County of Philadelphia Before 1854

Map of Philadelphia County showing the boroughs, townships and districts of the county prior to the Act of Consolidation, 1854
Map of Philadelphia County showing the boroughs, townships and districts of the county prior to the Act of Consolidation, 1854

External links

Notes

Image:Flag of Pennsylvania.svg Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
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Harrisburg

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from Wikipedia

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from Wikipedia




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