Visiting SJU and Philadelphia

Visit SJU

Prospective students can schedule a tour of campus. Tours are held every Thursday at 4:00pm. Students interested in scheduling a one on one information session can contact the Office of Graduate International Admissions at or at (610)660-1127

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Area Hotels

Philadelphia City History and Information

Philadelphia is located on the East Coast of the United States in the mid-Atlantic state of Pennsylvania.  The city itself has 1.4 million residents, while the metropolitan area has over 6 million - in both areas it ranks as the country's sixth largest city.  Philly is about 2 hours from New York City, 3 hours from Washington, D.C., 1 hour from the Pocono Mountains and 1.5 hours from Atlantic City and other New Jersey beach towns.

The city of Philadelphia was founded by William Penn of England as a refuge for the religious organization to which he belonged, called the Society of Friends or the Quakers.  They were persecuted in England, and because King Charles II owed Penn's father a large debt, the king gave Penn a land grant to the area now known as Pennsylvania (which means "Penn's Woods"). Penn founded the city on the virtue of tolerance and welcomed people of all nations and religions to his colony.  He even paid the Native Americans for the land before settling it instead of fighting with them over it.  With its central location in Great Britain's new American colonies, easy access to natural resources, and welcoming attitude, Philadelphia quickly became the largest city in England's New World.

These things also led to greater and greater dissatisfaction with British rule and the role of the city in American independence. In the 1770s Philadelphia hosted the First and the Second Continental Congresses, resulting in the American colonies' Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. The city continued to serve as the seat of the Revolutionary War. Then in 1787 the Constitutional Convention drafted the federal Constitution here, establishing the United States of America, and Philadelphia became the new country's first capital city.

As the United States grew and expanded, other cities rose to prominence. Philadelphia continued to increase in size and population as it absorbed many of the ethnic neighborhoods established around the original city limits.  Even today as one of the largest cities in the U.S., Philadelphians identify with their local neighborhood as well as the city as a whole.

Philadelphia is situated between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers.  The downtown area is laid out according to Penn's plan in a grid pattern. Named streets run east-west and numbered streets run north-south. This makes it very easy to explore on foot and one of the most walkable historic areas in the country. Also according to Penn's wishes, Philadelphia is full of green - there are small parks in the downtown area, trees line streets throughout the city, and the Fairmount Park system is one of the largest urban parks in the world.

There have been many famous Philadelphians over the years.  Perhaps the most famous ever is Benjamin Franklin.  Franklin lived during the 1700s and is one of the U.S.'s founding fathers, present at both Continental Congresses and the Constitutional Convention.  He also helped broker the Peace Treaty that ended the American Revolutionary War and served as the country's ambassador to France. In addition, Ben Franklin was an inventor (bifocals and the lightning rod, among other inventions), publisher (Poor Richard's Almanac and The Pennsylvania Gazette), philosopher ("A penny saved is a penny earned"), community organizer (he founded volunteer fire companies, the first public lending library anywhere, and The University of Pennsylvania), and a scientist (he "discovered" electricity). Other notables from Philadelphia include: Walt Whitman, poet; Marian Anderson, opera vocalist; Grace Kelly, actress and Princess of Monaco; Bill Cosby, comedian; Kevin Bacon, actor; Will Smith, rap artist and actor; and M. Night Shyamalan, director.

Explore Philadelphia

Philadelphia is rich in diversity, especially as far as fun and relaxation go. You can find something to meet any interest, whether it is taking a sightseeing tour of the city’s streets and neighborhoods, visiting one of the city’s prestigious museums, cheering on a local team at a sporting event, or taking in a concert or show. GoPhila is a great source of visitor information for the Philadelphia area. There are also two online sights just for Philly’s college students, One Big Campus and Campus Philly. SJU’s Student Leadership Office also has a listing of fun things to do in Philly and brochures available in the Campion Building.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is renowned for its art collection. However, while one side impressively sits overlooking the Schuylkill River and Boathouse Row, the other is the location of those famous Rocky stairs. At any given moment you will see some individual or crowd racing up the steps to pose triumphantly with both arms raised at the top: the Rocky pose. The Franklin Institute is an interactive science museum that features a Planetarium and an I-MAX theater. Visit the dinosaurs at The Academy of Natural Sciences. The Atwater Kent Museum is the gateway to Philadelphia’s history, located near the Independence Mall area. There you can see the Liberty Bell, rung to announce the then American colonies’ break from England, and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution were written and ratified. Also on Independence Mall is the National Constitution Center, an unexpectedly fun, interactive museum dedicated to the history and implementation of U.S. law. There are numerous other museums to visit downtown and around Philadelphia, but one that is not to be missed is the Barnes Museum. Located on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Barnes Museum houses an impressive collection of French impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.

You can see performances by The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet (don’t miss their production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in December, it is a Philadelphia tradition) and national tours of Broadway shows at The Academy of Music. Also on the Avenue of the Arts are many other theaters with ever changing dance and musical performances, dramas and comedies. The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts hosts various performances and art education events. Nearby is the country’s oldest theater, still in operation, Walnut Street Theater.

Philadelphia also has an impressive number of professional sports teams and arenas, including teams from the most popular professional sports in the U.S. – baseball, basketball, football and ice hockey. The Wells Fargo Center is home to Philadelphia’s ice hockey team, the Flyers, and the '76ers , our basketball team. It also hosts concerts and other performances. Lincoln Financial Field is the home stadium of the Philadelphia Eagles, We also have indoor soccer (Kixx), minor league ice hockey (Phantoms), indoor lacrosse (Wings), arena football (Soul), and across the Delaware River in Camden, we have minor league baseball (Riversharks). Take in some games while you are here - hanging out with the locals and experiencing American sports culture is a great way to get to know Philly.

Other fun things to do include days spent outdoors in Fairmount Park. Or see the animals at The Philadelphia Zoo and take a ride in the Zooballoon for breathtaking views of the city. You can also visit Penn’s Landing where during the spring, summer and fall there are many different types of outdoor festivals, celebrations, concerts and movie screenings. Downtown you can stop by the Reading Terminal Market to try out all different types of cuisine. There are some hip and funky shopping districts around the city, including South Street, Main Street in Manayunk, and Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill.