New Philadelphia National Historic Site

New Philadelphia, founded in 1836, is believed to be the first town in the United States legally registered and platted by an African American. Frank McWorter, a slave in Kentucky, bought his own freedom and that of immediate family with surplus funds earned from mining niter and processing saltpeter. He subsequently moved to Illinois and purchased the acreage that would become New Philadephia, selling lots to both African Americans and European Americans. With proceeds from those sales and other sources, McWorter eventually bought the freedom of a dozen more family members.

Just over a century after Free Frank founded the town of New Philadelphia, an act passed by the Senate and House, and signed by President Joe Biden, established the New Philadelphia National Historic Site as a unit of the National Park Service.

The rural community flourished at first, situated near major crossroads at the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. But New Philadelphia fell into decline when the railroad bypassed it in 1869. Dissolved under an official order of 1885, over time the abandoned town reverted to open fields. 

Today you can visit the townsite of New Philadelphia.  The site includes interpretation and an augmented reality app that allows visitors to explore New Philadelphia as it looked in the 1830's and 1840s.


Visitor Information

Address: Broad Street Barry, Illinois 62312