In 1723, Benjamin Franklin, having spent his first 17 years in Boston, set out for Philadelphia to begin a new life. In those days ambitious and talented young Americans made their way to the thriving city much as today they flock to Wall Street and Silicon Valley.
Ever since Franklin’s time the two cities have been taking each other’s measure. And they have long invited comparison by historians and cultural observers.
While Boston and Philly were hardly in direct competition in politics or finance, both played vital roles in the founding and defining of America. Each owed its origin to a persecuted religious sect.
Later, Boston had its Tea Party, Bunker Hill, Paul...