The Southwark Historical Society is made up of a group of volunteers who serve to collect, preserve and promote the history of Southwark, a historic district located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our mission is to educate, inform, and engage the public through collecting, preserving, and interpreting the past.
Discover Philadelphia’s “First Suburb”
By the mid-eighteenth century, Philadelphia’s “first suburb” went through a building boom that transformed Southwark from a village into a residential and commercial neighborhood, especially along the waterfront.
A number of important events occurred during the settlement and development of Philadelphia’s first suburb.
A number of important historic figures resided in Southwark or owned tracts of land during the colonial settlement of Philadelphia.
A number of historic sites are located in Southwark including the oldest church in Pennsylvania and one of the oldest shot towers in the United States.
A “Pleasant Place”
Long before William Penn and the founding of Philadelphia, Swedish settlers arrived in 1638 at a place the local Lenni Lenape Indian tribe called Wiccaco, which means “pleasant place.” After William Penn founded the City of Philadelphia in 1682, he decided to change the name of “Wiccaco” to Southwark, after a similarly situated neighborhood on the south bank of the Thames in London.