views updated May 21 2018


Getting There
Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America, North America

Founded: 1682;
Incorporated: 1701
Location: Eastern Pennsylvania, between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers
Flag: Outer vertical stripes of blue, with seal centered on center yellow stripe.
Time Zone: 7 am Eastern Standard Time (EST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White, 57.2%; Black, 39.9%; Native American, 0.2%; and Asian/Pacific Islander, 2.7%
Elevation: 12 m (40 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 39°95'N, 75°16'W
Climate: Continental climate moderated by the Appalachian mountains and the Atlantic Ocean; hot, humid summers
Annual Mean Temperature: 12.5 °C (54.6°F); January 0.6°C (33.1°F); August 23.7°C (74.7°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: 50.8 cm (20 in)
Average Annual Precipitation (rainfall and melted snow): 105.2 cm (41.4 in)
Government: Mayor-council
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 215
Postal Codes: 1910160

1. Introduction

Located in southeastern Pennsylvania, at the confluence of the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers, Philadelphia is the state's largest city and the fifth largest in the United States. Home of the Declaration of Independence and the Liberty Belland the first capital of the United StatesPhiladelphia has one of the nation's greatest concentrations of historic sites, which play a major role in attracting some three million visitors to the city every year. Although it has ceded its one-time position as manufacturing capital of the nation, Philadelphia today is home to a vigorous service-oriented economy as well as the number one freshwater port in the United States. Its central location in relation to the cities of the Eastern Seaboard, and the eastern United States as a whole, combined with its population, size, and cultural and recreational resources continue to make Philadelphia one of the nation's major cities.

2. Getting There

Philadelphia is located in southeastern Pennsylvania, where the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers meet. The city's fairly flat terrain resembles that of surrounding areas in New Jerseyand Delaware rather than the hilly land characteristic of much of Pennsylvania's interior.


The major interstate access to Philadelphia is via I-95, running from Boston and points north all the way down to Florida. Intersecting with I-95 is I-76 (the Schuylkill Expressway), which extends westward through southern Pennsylvania. Other major routes in the area are I-276 (the Pennsylvania Turnpike), and I-676 (the Vine Street Expressway), which links I-76 to Camden, New Jersey. I-476 (the "Blue Route") runs along the suburbs to the west of the city, connecting I-76 and I-276 to the north with I-95 to the south.

Bus and Railroad Service

Philadelphia is one of the main stops on the Amtrak route that traverses the Boston-Washington corridor in the northeast of the country. Trains arrive at and depart from Penn Station. Intercity bus service is available on Greyhound and Peter Pan/Trailways. Intercity service to nearby destinations is provided by New Jersey Transit.


Philadelphia International Airport is a hub for Midway Airlines and US Airways. It also services the other major U.S. carriers, including American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, TWA, and United.


Penn's Landing is the largest freshwater port in the United States. Together with facilities in southern New Jersey and Delaware, it constitutes the Ports of Philadelphia, operated by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. The jointly operated port complex handles the East Coast's largest volume of international shipping freight.

Philadelphia Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 1,524,249
Area: 349.6 sq km (135 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 57.2% white; 39.9% black; 0.2% Native American; and 2.7% Asian
Nicknames: City of Brotherly Love

Metropolitan Area

Population: 4,398,000
Description: Philadelphia and surrounding communities
Area: 9,984.5 sq km (3,855 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 52
Percentage of national population 2: 1.6%
Average yearly growth rate: 0.4%
Ethnic composition: 76.9% white; 20% black; 2.9% Asian/Pacific Islander

  1. The Philadelphia metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of the United States' total population living in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

3. Getting Around

The streets of Philadelphia are laid out in a grid pattern, with numbered streets running north-south. Many of the east-west streets were namedby founding father William Penn (16441718)for local plants and trees, including Cherry, Chestnut, Walnut, Locust, Spruce, and Pine. The Delaware River to the east and the Schuylkill River to the west meet south of the city.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Public transportation is operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and includes buses, trolleys, subways, and commuter trains. Bus lines include the PHLASH Bus service, which makes a loop through many of the downtown's major commercial and cultural sites, the Ben FrankLine, the Mid-City Loop, and the Chestnut Street Transitway. The commuter rail line, PATCO, connects the city with Camden, New Jersey, via the Ben Franklin Bridge. Underground Rapid Transit lines intersect underneath City Hall.


Bus tours of Philadelphia's historic sights are offered by Gray Line Tours and American Trolley Tours, whose "trolleys" are actually double-decker buses. Candlelight walking tours of historic Philadelphia are available also, as well as tours by horse and carriage. Boat tours that offer views of the city's skyline from the harbor are offered on the Spirit of Philadelphia and the Liberty Belle II.

4. People

In 1990, the population of Philadelphia was 1,586,000, of which 39.9 percent were black, 2.7 percent Asian, and 0.2 percent Native American. Hispanics (both white and black) accounted for 5.6 percent of the population. The population estimate for 1994 was 1,524,249.

The population of the Philadelphia Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area was reported as 4,922,257 in 1990 and estimated at 4,940,653 as of 1997. The region's racial composition was listed by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1996 as 76.9 percent white; 20 percent black; and 2.9 percent Asian/Pacific Islander. The percentage of residents of Hispanic origin (an ethnic rather than a racial designation) was 4.3 percent.

5. Neighborhoods

The historic central city is known as Center City. At its center lies Penn Square, the site of Philadelphia's city hall. The surrounding area can be divided into four quadrants, each arranged around a central square (or, in the case of Logan Circle, the site of a former square). In the northwest quadrant, the gracious, tree-lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway passes through Logan Circle, in a district that includes the Franklin Institute Science Museum and the Academy of Natural Sciences. South of this section lies Rittenhouse Square, an urban park surrounded by buildings that reflect the district's nineteenth-century history as an exclusive neighborhood that was home to some of the city's wealthiest citizens.

In the southeast quadrant is Washington Square, where the city's historic colonial district (also known as Old City) begins and stretches eastward to the Delaware River. This area includes Independence National Historic Park. Colonial architecture is also on display to the south, in the area known as Society Hill, a fashionable neighborhood of restored Federal, Georgian, and colonial homes. Further south is Queen Village, an area originally settled by Swedes that boasts the oldest church in the state of Pennsylvania. South Street, which lies between Society Hill and Queen Village, became a counterculture enclave in the 1960s and is still a trendy and sophisticated venue filled with bookstores, cafes, natural food stores, restaurants, and other businesses.

South of Center City is South Philadelphia, the oldest section of Philadelphia. Today it is a colorful and ethnically diverse neighborhood with a strong Italian influence.

West of the Schuylkill River lies University City, home of the University of Pennsylvania ("Penn"), which moved to this location in the 1870s, and Drexel University. In recent years, the university has helped gentrify the area by supporting the establishment of bookstores and other businesses.

Northwest of Center City lie the residential communities of Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy, and Manayunk; the latter has become a fashionable neighborhood graced by a lively assortment of galleries, restaurants, boutiques, and cafes. Chestnut Hill, originally a planned community designed by British architects in the mid-nineteenth century, has been designated a National Historic District thanks to its distinctive buildings.

City Fact Comparison
(United States)(Egypt)(Italy)(China)
Population of urban area14,398,00010,772,0002,688,00012,033,000
Date the city was founded1682AD 969753 BC723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy)$118$193$172$129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)$44$56$59$62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)$2$14$15$16
Total daily costs$164$173$246$207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city2132011
Largest newspaperThe Philadelphia InquirerAkhbar El Yom/Al AkhbarLa RepubblicaRenmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper428,8951,159,450754,9303,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established1829194419761948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

Other municipalities in the metropolitan Philadelphia area include Upper Darby, Levittown, Doylestown, and New Hope (all in Pennsylvania), as well as Haddonfield, Moorestown, and Merchantsville in New Jersey. Also geographically associated with Philadelphia are a series of Pennsylvania communities known as the Main Line, including Merion, Wayne, Ardmore, Villanova, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr.

6. History

The Philadelphia region was first settled by Swedes in the first half of the seventeenth century. It was not until 1682 that the Englishman William Penn, having received a land grant from King Charles II, founded his settlement between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, north of the existing Swedish settlement. Penn planned a town with broad avenues and public squares. Settlers were attracted by the economic opportunities available in the new land, as well as by the promise of religious freedom guaranteed by Penn, a Quaker who had rejected the dictates of England's established Anglican Church.

By the eighteenth century, thanks to its fine port and good agricultural land, Philadelphia had become the foremost city in the 13 British colonies. Its considerable wealth, reflected in both its architecture and in the interior decor of its houses, also supported an impressive infrastructure and network of public services and cultural institutions. The first hospital in the future United States was opened in Philadelphia in 1755 (a project in which the city's most famous son, Benjamin Franklin, participated). Franklin was also a driving force behind the founding of the University of Pennsylvania, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the American Philosophical Society.

Although the Philadelphians were more politically moderate than their neighbors in New England, they participated actively in the debate that preceded the adoption of the Declaration of Independence (which occurred in the city's own Independence Hall, then known as the State House) and were heavily involved in the Revolutionary War (17751783), during which their city was occupied by British troops under General Howe between 1777 and 1778 before Howe's army moved on to New York. The members of the Continental Congress fled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, taking the Liberty Bell with them. After the war, Philadelphia was the site of the Constitutional Convention, at which the U.S. Constitution was drafted in 1787, and the city served as the capital of the new country in the 1790s before the completion of Washington, D.C.

The nineteenth century brought continued prosperity and cultural advancement to the city. In 1805 the first permanent bridge over the Schuylkill River connected Philadelphia with the fertile farmland of the interior. In the 1820s and 1830s, seaport and rail access made the Philadelphia the manufacturing capital of the United States, as well as one of its premier financial centers. Cultural progress continued also with the establishment of public education and the creation of such institutions as the Walnut Street Theater. Although the national capital had moved to Washington, Philadelphia remained the national center for the minting of money, shipbuilding, and weapons production.

As an enlightened city, Philadelphia was a hotbed of antislavery sentiment, although many of the city's elite, dependent on Southern trade, opposed the war for economic reasons. War brought its own economic compensation as Philadelphia became a center for military supplies and transport equipment.

However, nothing could compensate for the loss of thousands of Philadelphia's native sons in the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg (Pennsylvania) in 1863. When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, his body lay in state in Independence Hall before traveling to its final resting place in Illinois.

Immigration to Philadelphia, already heavy before the Civil War (186165), continued in the last decades of the century. New arrivals from Italy and Eastern Europe joined the large number of Irish immigrants who had arrived earlier and helped maintain Philadelphia's position as the nation's manufacturing capital, with a varied manufacturing base that ranged from sugar refining to hat manufacturing. In 1876 Philadelphia hosted the first World's Fair held in the United States: the Centennial Exhibition in Fairmount Park, which included a demonstration of the telephone. Philadelphia went on to become a pioneer in the establishment of modern utilities, claiming the first residential and office electric lighting and the first telephone exchange, both in place by 1878.

As the new century arrived, Philadelphians were prospering, with the greatest home ownership rate of any city in the world. During World War I (191418), the city boasted the largest shipbuilding plant in existence at the time. The city's population continued to growfrom one million to two million between 1900 and 1930, an increase that included a large number of African Americans. However, the Great Depression of the 1930s signaled the end of Philadelphia's predominance as a manufacturing center, even though the city's economy rebounded with the advent of World War II (193945).

In the post-war years, Philadelphia's leaders have slowed migration to the surrounding suburbs with an ambitious program of urban renewal that restored Center City, preserving Philadelphia's historic heritage while allowing for development that would draw businesses to the city. Like other urban centers in the United States, Philadelphia has seen the growth of a service-oriented economy replace its former manufacturing base; today, manufacturing in this former industrial capital employs only about ten percent of the work force. As the twenty-first century began, the city continued to combine historic preservation with new development as the National Park Service worked on plans to transform Independence Mall, and a new National Constitution Center entered the planning stages as well.

7. Government

Both the city and the county of Philadelphia are administered by the same mayor-council government, established under a 1951 charter that served as a national model for big-city government, eliminating the administrative role of council and strengthening the powers of the mayor. The mayor and the 17 council members are elected to four-year terms, with ten council members elected by district and seven elected at large. The mayor may not serve more than two consecutive terms, although there are no limits on the number of non-consecutive mayoral terms.

8. Public Safety

Philadelphia is considered one of the nation's safest large metropolitan areas. In 1995, the city's incidence of reported violent crimes per 100,000 population was 1,436, including 28 murders, 51 rapes, and 889 robberies. The incidence of property crimes was 5,642 and included 1,057 burglaries and 1,556 motor vehicle thefts.

9. Economy

Like other cities in the Northeast, Philadelphiaonce the manufacturing capital of the nationhas seen a decline in its traditional industrial base since World War II, as heavy industry moved to areas in the South and West. Until the 1980s, the city's port and petroleum-refining plants contributed substantially to the economy, but since that time service industries have replaced manufacturing as the dominant economic sector. Manufacturing, which used to account for 50 percent of the city's employment, now accounts for only about ten percent.

Today's leading economic sectors include advertising, financial services, law, and book publishing. The health care field is also a major income producer, with some 20 percent of the work force employed in health care services or the city's growing biomedical and pharmaceutical industries. Philadelphia has also made a concerted effort to capitalize on its historic attractions by promoting tourism, most notably through the construction of a new $525 million convention center, completed in 1993, and developing its waterfront areas.

Another target of the city's economic planning has been the promotion of Philadelphia as a venue for corporate headquarters, and new buildings as well as entire office parks have multiplied rapidly along Route 202 just west of the city. Major corporations headquartered in the Philadelphia area today include SmithKline Beecham, Aramark, Advanta, and CIGNA.

10. Environment

The physical features of the Philadelphia region have determined many aspects of its history, from the fertile river-wash soil that drew its early settlers to begin farming the area to its ports, which guaranteed an abundant supply of water, encouraged the growth of shipbuilding, and have made the city a major transport and shipping center throughout its history. The Fairmount Waterworks, constructed in 1840 and still standing in Fairmount Park, was a state-of-the-art project that pumped water from the Schuylkill River into the community for residential and commercial use.

11. Shopping

Philadelphia offers both traditional retail outlets in its historic neighborhoods and abundant mall and outlet shopping. For sheer size, the dominant shopping venue is the King of Prussia Court and Plaza north of the city, which is America's second-largest shopping mall, superseded only by the Mall of America in Minnesota. The King of Prussia facility, which boasts 450 stores and 51 hectares (126 acres) of parking, offers major stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdale's, and specialty retailers including Tiffany, Williams-Sonoma, and Hermes.

The Franklin Mills outlet mall northeast of Center City is a single-story mall that attracts millions of shoppers annually with over 200 discount and outlet stores, including outlets for Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and Burlington Coat Factory, as well as a 14-screen multiplex cinema.

Popular traditional urban shopping venues include Liberty Place, a downtown skyscraper that contains over 70 stores; South Street, which has evolved from a 1960s hippie district into a trendy upscale commercial and entertainment center; University City, the area surrounding the University of Pennsylvania, west of the Schuylkill river, which is home to a variety of boutiques and specialty shops; and the community of Manayunk northwest of Center City. A new shopping center near Philadelphia International Airport also draws large numbers of shoppers.

12. Education

Philadelphia, home of the first public school in the United States (opened in 1698), was also a pioneer in the education of gifted children, establishing special admission schools to meet the needs of students with special abilities in a variety of areas. Today Philadelphia has the nation's fifth-largest public school system, enrolling almost 220,000 students at all levels, from preschool through twelfth grade. In the fall of 1996, Philadelphia's public school enrollment was 63.8 percent black, 19.8 percent white, 11.6 percent Hispanic, and 4.7 percent Asian/Pacific. The school system employed 11,144 classroom teachers and 23,216 staff personnel.

The city of Philadelphia has about 20 post-secondary institutions, and its metropolitan area is home to nearly 90. The University of Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League college located in downtown Philadelphia, is over 250 years old. It was home to the nation's first medical school (1765), law school (1790), and business school (1881) and pioneered the integration of a classical education with modern fields of study. Situated west of the Schuylkill River since the 1870s, the university enrolls over 20,000 students in four undergraduate and 12 graduate schools. Located nearby is Drexel University.

Philadelphia is also home to the Curtis Institute, one of the nation's top music schools.

13. Health Care

There are more than 100 hospitals in the Philadelphia metropolitan area and six medical schools, as well as schools of nursing, dentistry, and pharmacology. There are major teaching hospitals affiliated with both the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University.

Pennsylvania Hospital, part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, is the oldest hospital in the United States, established in 1751 by Dr. Thomas Bond (171284) and Benjamin Franklin (170690). This 505-bed facility was also home to the country's first surgical amphitheater and was the first hospital in the country to treat mental illness.

Temple University Hospital, affiliated with the Temple University Medical School, is a 514-bed facility that provided care to 20,000 patients and 150,000 outpatients in 1998. Its emergency department, a certified Level I regional trauma center, treats more than 37,000 patients a year. Community hospitals that belong to the Temple University Health System include Episcopal Hospital, Jeanes Hospital, Lower Bucks Hospital, Neumann Medical Center, and Northeastern Hospital. Also part of Temple's hospital system is Temple University Children's Medical Center.

Philadelphia is also home to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Wills Eye Hospital, both considered among the best in the country in their respective specialties.

14. Media

Philadelphia's major daily newspapers (with 1998 circulation figures) are the Philadelphia Inquirer, published seven mornings a week (weekdays, 428,895; Sunday, 880,918), and the Philadelphia Daily News, published Monday through Saturday evening (weekday circulation 175,448). (Both papers are now owned by the same company.) The Inquirer is better known for its national coverage, while the Daily News has more local news. City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly are free alternative weeklies with articles on local issues and entertainment listings. Monthly magazines include Philadelphia Magazine and Where Philadelphia Magazine.

All major television networks have affiliates in Philadelphia, and the metropolitan region is home to more than 30 am and FM radio stations providing news, music, and local features. The acclaimed interview program "Fresh Air," hosted by Terry Gross, originates from WHYY, Philadelphia's National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate, and is syndicated on NPR stations throughout the country.

15. Sports

Philadelphiawhere the world's first baseball game was played in 1860fields teams in all major-league sports. The Philadelphia Phillies, who won the National League championship in 1993 and advanced to the playoffs two years later, play at Veterans Stadium, which is also the home of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. The Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association compete in the modern, $230 million First Union Center, as do the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League.

As an area with one of the nation's heaviest concentration of colleges, Greater Philadelphia has an active collegiate sports scene, many of whose games take place at Franklin Field and the Palestra in West Philadelphia. Every April, Franklin Field is the site of the Penn Relays, an intercollegiate and amateur track event. Also popular are regattas on the Schuylkill River.

16. Parks and Recreation

Fairmount Park, the largest landscaped park in the country, extends over 3,602 hectares (8,900 acres) northwest of Center City. In addition to 161 kilometers (100 miles) of hiking, bicycling, and bridle trails, the park also encompasses historic and cultural attractions, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Zoo (the nation's oldest), the historic Fairmount Waterworks, nearly 30 colonial mansions open to visitors, Japanese gardens and a teahouse, outdoor sculpture, and the Philadelphia Orchestra's summer home, the Mann Music Center. Visitors to the park can use hike-and-bike trails; rent rowboats and canoes for use on the Schuylkill River, which runs through the park, dividing it into eastern and western sections; visit the waterworks, built in 1840; tour the historic houses, which include Lemon Hill, Mt. Pleasant, Laurel Hill, Strawberry Mansion, and Chamounix Mansion; take their children to Smith Playground; take in horticultural exhibits; or visit the 40-hectare (99-acre) Laurel Hill Cemetery.

The metropolitan area has over 100 golf courses, five of which are 18-hole municipal courses operated by the city of Philadelphia. Tennis courts can be found in Fairmount Park, on the University of Pennsylvania campus, and at other locations. Philadelphia has 86 municipal swimming pools, and the Blue Cross River Rink at Penn's Landing is a popular spot for ice skating.

17. Performing Arts

Anchored by its symphony orchestra and the renowned Curtis Institute, Philadelphia has a top-notch classical music scene. The Philadelphia Orchestra, which grew to greatness under maestros including Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy, remains one of the best in the world under music director, Wolfgang Sawallisch. The orchestra presents a regular season of concerts at the Academy of Music between September and May and also plays a six-week summer season at the Mann Music Center amphitheatre in Fairmount Park.

The talented faculty and student of the Curtis Institute can be heard in regular solo recitals and chamber music concerts in the school's concert hall in Rittenhouse Square. The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society presents concerts featuring well-known soloists and ensembles performing both classical and popular music. In addition, the city has its own chamber orchestra, the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra, as well as a group that specializes in contemporary music, the Relache Ensemble. The Opera Company of Philadelphia presents four fully staged opera productions annually at the Academy of Music.

Philadelphia presents varied opportunities for theater goers. In addition to traveling productions of Broadway plays, local audiences can attend productions by the resident company at the Walnut Street Theatre, the Philadelphia Theater Company, the Arden Theatre Company, and the American Music Theater Festival, which specializes in musical theater. The Wilma Theater is a respected troupe dedicated to presenting contemporary works, which are also the focus at the Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays and the InterAct Theatre Company.

The acclaimed Pennsylvania Ballet performs at the Academy of Music, the Annenberg Center, and the Merriam Theater, in a season that includes an annual performance of The Nutcracker in the original version choreographed by Balanchine. A variety of local groups make up the Philadelphia Dance Alliance. Movement Theatre International performances showcase dance and movement of all kinds, including mime and even circus acts.

18. Libraries and Museums

The Free Library of Philadelphia operates a central library downtown and 49 neighborhood branches. With a total of 7,983,088 items, the library has a circulation of over six million. Its special collections cover subject areas including fine prints and printmaking, automobiles, Judaica, choral music, jazz, Americana, British writer Beatrix Potter (18661943), and British illustrator Arthur Rackham (18671939). It also has an exceptional children's library.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the nation's third-largest art museum and one of its best. Its collection ranges from the middle ages to the present and features special attractions, including a medieval courtyard and fountain, a Gothic chapel, and a Hindu temple. Both older and contemporary European masters are represented, as well as a broad array of American artworks, including the decorative arts, and a variety of special exhibits. The Museum of American Art, housed in a distinguished Victorian building designed by Frank Furness and George Hewitt and extensively refurbished for the 1976 American bicentennial and further renovated in 1994, houses an outstanding collection of works by American artists from colonial times to the present. The Philadelphia Art Alliance promotes all the fine arts, displaying paintings, sculptures, and photography and also serving as a venue for readings, concerts, and dramatic performances.

With its rich history dating back to colonial times, Philadelphia is home to a variety of historic sites and historical museums. The Atwater-Kent Museum illuminates the city's history through exhibits detailing changing urban life over the past three hundred years. The Civil War Library and Museum houses a collection of research materials and artifacts from the war years, including a weapons display. Independence Seaport Museum, located at Penn's Landing, is devoted to the maritime history of the Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay.

Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was drafted), together with the nearby pavilion that houses the Liberty Bell, is Philadelphia's most famous historic site. Nearby are the quarters occupied by the U.S. Congress and the Supreme Court in the 1790s when Philadelphia served as the nation's capital. Another major historic attraction in Philadelphia is Gloria Dei Church. Built in 1700 by early Swedish colonists in the region, it is the oldest church in Pennsylvania. The former home of poet and short-story writer Edgar Allan Poe (180949) has been turned into the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, which displays artifacts illuminating Poe's life and work.

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is devoted to the history of the world's cultures, while the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies focuses on Philadelphia's history as a major immigration center. In addition, several museums in Philadelphia are devoted to the history of specific ethnic groups. These include the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum, the National Museum of American Jewish History, the Polish American Cultural Center, the American Swedish Historical Museum.

Philadelphia's legacy as the home of statesman and scientist Benjamin Franklin is reflected in the city's distinguished science museums. Originally founded in 1824, the Franklin Institute Science Museum (also the site of the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial) was a leader in the development of hands-on science exhibits. The Academy of Natural Sciences has exhibits that include dioramas, hands-on experiments, and a gem and mineral display. The College of Physicians of Philadelphia sponsors both the C. Everett Koop Community Health Information Center and the Mütter Museum.

19. Tourism

An estimated three million tourists visit Philadelphia every year, drawn by the city's historic and cultural attractions. The Philadelphia Convention Center, located in the central historic district, has boosted the city's economy by creating new jobs in the service and retail sectors, as growing numbers of convention delegates visit Philadelphia.

20. Holidays and Festivals

Mummers Parade

Black Writer's Festival
Chocolate Festival
Junior Jazz Weekend
Mardi Gras Jamboree
PECO Energy Jazz Festival
U.S. Hot Rod Grand Slam Monster Jam

Book & Cook Fair
Maple Syrup Festival
Purim Festival
Philadelphia Boat Show
Philadelphia Flower Show

Historic Houses in Flower
Penn Relays
Springside School Antiques Show

Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema
Philadelphia Open House Tours

Chestnut Hill Garden Festival Blooms
Flower & Garden Festival
Devon Horse Show & Country Fair
Jam Festival
Jam on the River
Pennsylvania Fair

Festival of Fountains

First Union U.S. Pro Championship
Manayunk Arts Fest
Odunde African Street Festival & Marketplace
Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Annual

Welcome America

Philadelphia International Film Festival

Yo Philadelphia Festival

Bach Festival of Philadelphia

Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show

Advanta Tennis Championships for Women

Market Street East Holiday Festival

21. Famous Citizens

Marian Anderson (18971993), singer.

Mary Cassatt (18441926), painter.

Wilt Chamberlain (193699), basketball player.

W. C. Chamberlain (18791946), comic actor.

Thomas Eakins (18441916), painter.

Benjamin Franklin (170690), statesman and inventor.

Grace Kelly (192982), screen actress and princess of Monaco.

Margaret Mead (19011978), anthropologist.

William Penn (16441718), founder of Pennsylvania.

Edgar Allan Poe (180949), author.

Betsy Ross (17521836), flag maker.

22. For Further Study


Philadelphia City Net. [Online] Available (accessed December 8, 1999).

Philadelphia City Pages. [Online] Available (accessed December 8, 1999).

Philadelphia Liberty Net. [Online] Available (accessed December 8, 1999).

Philadelphia Online. [Online] Available (accessed December 8, 1999).

Government Offices

Mayor's Office
215 City Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(206) 686-2181

Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 686-1776

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Philadelphia Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(206) 447-5000

Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau
1515 Market St., Suite 2020
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 636-3300


Philadelphia Business Journal
400 Market St., Suite 300
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Philadelphia Daily News
P.O. Box 7788
Philadelphia, PA 19101

Philadelphia Inquirer
P.O. Box 8263
Philadelphia, PA 19101


Adams, Carolyn. Philadelphia: Neighborhoods, Division, and Conflict in a Post-industrial City. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991.

Cotter, John L., Daniel G. Roberts, and Michael Parrington. The Buried Past: An Archaeological History of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992.

Davis, Allen F., and Mark H. Haller, eds. The Peoples of Philadelphia: A History of Ethnic Groups and Lower-class Life, 17901940. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998.

Ellison, Elaine Krasnow, and Elaine Mark Jaffe. Voices from Marshall Street: Jewish Life in a Philadelphia Neighborhood, 19201960. Philadelphia: Camino Books, 1994.

Gephart, Elizabeth S. Philadelphia with Children: A Guide to the Delaware Valley Including Lancaster and Hershey. Illustrated by Candace Stringer. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Camino Books, 1996.

Hulin-Salkin, Belinda. Greater Philadelphia: Into the Future, a Contemporary Portrait. 1st ed. Chatsworth, CA: Windsor Publications, 1991.

Hutchins, Catherine E. Shaping a National Culture: The Philadelphia Experience, 17501800. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 1994.

Morrone, Francis. An Architectural Guidebook toPhiladelphia. Photography by James Iska. 1st ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith, 1999.

Rockland, Michael Aaron. Snowshoeing Through Sewers: Adventures in New York City, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994.

Seitz, Ruth Hoover. Philadelphia & Its Countryside. Photography by Blair Seitz ; foreword by James A. Michener. Harrisburg, PA: RB Books, 1994.

Stevick, Philip. Imagining Philadelphia: Travelers' Views of the City from 1800 to the Present. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.


views updated May 21 2018


PHILADELPHIA , fifth largest city in the United States, in the State of *Pennsylvania. The area's Jewish population (2001), sixth largest in the nation, was estimated at 206,000.

Origins of the Jewish Community

Jews came from New Amsterdam to trade in the Delaware Valley area as early as the 1650s, long before William Penn founded the colony of Pennsylvania in 1682. Several individual Jews were transient in Philadelphia by 1706. Permanent Jewish settlement began in 1737 with the arrival of Nathan *Levy (1704–53) and his brother Isaac (1706–77), who were joined in 1740 by their young cousins David *Franks (1720–93) and Moses (1718–89). Nathan Levy and David Franks established a successful mercantile firm known for its shipping and import-export activity. Barnard *Gratz (1738–1801) arrived in 1754 and went to work for David Franks. Gratz, with his brother Michael *Gratz (1740–1811), the two best known Philadelphia colonial Jews, created a prosperous business enterprise which specialized in western trade. Jewish communal life may be dated from 1740, when Nathan Levy secured a grant of ground on Spruce Street between Eighth and Ninth Streets for Jewish burial. Informal services were undoubtedly conducted early in the 1740s, but it is probable that no organizational structure existed until about 1761, when a Torah scroll was borrowed for the High Holy Days from Shearith Israel Congregation of New York City. At first, services were conducted in a rented house on Sterling Alley; after 1771, in a building on Cherry Alley. The oldest extant document utilizing the name Mikveh Israel Congregation is dated 1773, although the name was probably adopted prior to that.

Revolutionary Period

Nine or 10 Jewish merchants, led by the Gratz brothers, signed the Non-Importation Resolutions of Oct. 25, 1765. While a majority of Philadelphia's Jews supported the Revolutionary cause, a few were Tories, among them David Franks, who served as deputy commissary of prisoners and was expelled by the Continental authorities in 1780 for his pro-British sympathies. During the war Jews were active as suppliers to the troops, as brokers for the government (e.g., Haym *Salomon), and as military figures. The highest commissioned rank achieved by Jews was that of lieutenant colonel, held by both Solomon *Bush and David S. Franks, the latter having had the misfortune of serving as aide-de-camp to Benedict Arnold at the time of his treachery, but innocent of complicity. After the evacuation of the city by the British in 1778, Philadelphia became a center for Jewish refugees from Charleston, Savannah, and New York City. Gershom Mendes *Seixas became the community's hazzan in 1780. The city's first real synagogue building, 30 × 36 feet, was erected on the north side of Cherry Street between Third and Sterling and dedicated in 1782. After the end of the war, many of the out-of-towners returned home, including Seixas, who went back to his New York City congregation, and the Philadelphians were left holding a large mortgage, resulting in public appeals for funds in 1788 and 1790. Among the contributors were Benjamin Franklin, scientist David Rittenhouse, and political leader Thomas McKean, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence.

In 1783 the leaders of Mikveh Israel Congregation unsuccessfully attempted to change the requirement in the Pennsylvania constitution of 1776 that officeholders take an oath swearing belief in both the Old and New Testaments. Another effort led by Jonas *Phillips in 1789 was successful, and the 1790 state constitution prohibited only atheists from holding state office. Phillips was also the author of a communication to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 urging the recognition of full legal equality for members of "all Religious societies," later guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The fact that both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted in Philadelphia gave the Jews of the community a sense of close relationship to the founding of the nation which was the first in the modern world to grant the full range of rights and prerogatives of citizenship to Jews. President George Washington, answering a letter of congratulations sent to him in 1790 by Philadelphia's Manuel *Josephson on behalf of Mikveh Israel and its sister congregations of New York City, Charleston, and Richmond, also recognized that "the liberal sentiment toward each other which marks every political and religious denomination of men in this country stands unparalleled in the history of Nations."

Early 19th Century

The growth of the Jewish community of Philadelphia, like that of other major cities, was comparatively slow until about 1830. There may have been as many as 1,000 Jewish men, women, and children in the town at the time of Cornwallis' surrender, but this swollen population swiftly scattered, and so large a number was not again reached until about 1830. It is estimated that at the time of the 1820 census there were about 500 Jews in Philadelphia, of whom a little less than half were immigrants. Some of these foreign born felt uncomfortable at the Sephardi services of Mikveh Israel and in about 1795 instituted their own Ashkenazi form of worship, under the name German Hebrew Society. In 1802 they formally organized themselves as Rodeph Shalom Congregation. Philadelphia thus became the first city in the Western Hemisphere to break the unitary pattern of one congregation in each community. In 1819 Rebecca *Gratz and women from Mikveh Israel established the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society, the first non-synagogue charity in the country, which is active today. By 1825 these two congregations had spawned a handful of independent benevolent societies. Rebecca Gratz, Simha Peixotto, Rachael Peixotto Pyke, and other women in response to Protestant missionaries founded The Hebrew Sunday School Society in 1838. In 1848 there were about 4,000 Jews in the city, a figure which probably doubled by 1860, when Mikveh Israel and Rodeph Shalom had been joined by five more congregations: Beth Israel (1840, merged into Beth Zion in 1964); Keneseth Israel (1847); Bene Israel (1852, disbanded 1879); Beth El Emeth (1857, dissolved about 1890); and Adath Jeshurun (1858).

National Influence of the Community During the 19th Century

Beginning with the election of Isaac *Leeser to the pulpit of Mikveh Israel in 1829, and continuing until about 1906 when the *American Jewish Committee was formed in New York City in partnership with Philadelphia Jews, the Philadelphia Jewish community was innovating, pioneering, and, in many ways, the most influential Jewry in the U.S. Religiously, the dominant pattern was a moderate traditionalism. In spite of New York City's numerical superiority – and perhaps because New York's Jewry was so immense and diverse as to be unmanageable, uncontrollable, and diffuse – it was in Philadelphia that new ideas for the shaping of U.S. Jewish communal life were tested. Such creative religious and lay leaders of Philadelphia as Leeser, Sabato *Morais, Abraham *Hart, Moses Aaron *Dropsie, Mayer *Sulzberger, and Joseph *Krauskopf were as concerned with the future and fate of Jewish life throughout the country as they were with developments on the local scene. Other factors which contributed to the achievements of Philadelphia's Jews were the city's tradition of intellectual and cultural excellence, which spurred its Jews to match the activity of their non-Jewish neighbors; the geographical location of the city and its commercial and financial links with the South and Midwest, which brought it into frequent and instructive contact with Jews in other parts of the country; and a less frenzied pace of life than New York City's, which perhaps granted the leisure and perspective necessary for intelligent assessment of current and future needs. At any rate, it was in this community that Leeser's Occident, prayer book, and Bible translations were published – sources of incalculable Jewish cultural and religious enrichment throughout the country. It was in Philadelphia that Leeser issued a call for an organized U.S. Jewish community in 1841. In 1845 he organized the American Jewish Publication Society in Philadelphia, and, upon its failure, and that of a New York-based successor organization, the present Jewish Publication Society was formed in 1888. Leeser's Hebrew Education Society high school, the first in the land, was founded in 1849. He also opened the first Jewish theological seminary in the country, Maimonides College, in Philadelphia in 1867. The first U.S. Jewish teachers' college, Gratz College, established under the provisions of the will of Hyman *Gratz (1776–1857), began in 1897. In Philadelphia, too, *Dropsie College (later University), the first postgraduate institution for Jewish learning in the world, was opened in 1907, bringing to Philadelphia as its president the learned Cyrus *Adler, who for several decades was the representative of U.S. Jewry. In New York the Jewish Theological Seminary was founded by a Philadelphia rabbi, Sabato Morais, who was its first president.

[Bertram Wallace Korn]

Mass Immigration and Communal Chaos

Philadelphia's concern for national Jewish undertakings was virtually overwhelmed by the East European immigration, which began to pour into the city toward the end of the 19th century. A fairly homogenous community of approximately 12,000 in 1880 was inundated by 15 times its number within 35 years: There were upward of 200,000 Jews in the city by 1915. A majority of Philadelphia's Jewish immigrants came from the Ukraine. East European Jews were the largest immigrant group in Philadelphia by 1920. The process of Americanization, adjustment, and integration began all over again, accompanied by a vast proliferation of lodges, landsmannschaften, synagogues, and societies, numbering more than 150 in 1904 and twice that in 1920. Most of the community energy was channeled into social welfare and personal aid. The Jewish Foster Home (1855) and the Jewish Hospital (1866), formerly fairly modest institutions, struggled to keep pace with incessant need. Jewish women formed the Jewish Maternity Hospital in 1871. Another Jewish medical institution, Mt. Sinai Hospital, was created in 1900 to serve the immense Jewish population in south Philadelphia. The Jewish Sheltering Home (1882) developed into the Home for the Jewish Aged (1899). Single middle-class women led by Fanny Binsingwanger established the Young Women's Union to assist the new immigrants, opening what eventually became the Neighborhood Centre, a settlement house at 4th and Bainbridge in 1900. In 1901, with Jacob *Gimbel of the department store family as its first president, the new Federation of Jewish Charities was formed through the merger of a number of societies, including the United Hebrew Charities (founded in 1869) which had been supported by the proceeds of an annual Hebrew Charity Ball since 1855.

Federation of philanthropic endeavor did not, however, connote communal unity. As wide a gulf as anywhere in the nation existed between German and East European Jews, between Reform and Orthodox, and between Zionists and anti-Zionists. Within the field of philanthropy itself, family and business associations of the German Jews, and anti-, or at least non-Zionist views continued to dominate the Federation of Jewish Charities (fjc) until the end of World War ii. The German Jews kept aloof from the newer immigrants in the Mercantile Club (1853) and Philmont Country Club (1906), where their social gatherings were held; only in the Locust Club (1920), beginning in the 1940s, were social distinctions overlooked and, ultimately, ignored. In religious life, leaders such as Orthodox Rabbi Bernard L. *Levinthal and Reform Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf were personally friendly. However they rarely joined together except for specific causes as when they sold war bonds together during World War i, stood for election in the American Jewish Congress campaign of 1917, or supported expansion of Jewish education. Philadelphia, essentially a conservative city, preserved traditional characteristics dating back to colonial times; it also maintained social barriers that excluded Jews longer than in most other cities.

Toward a United Community: Post-World War i

After the war, Jews from the immigrant neighborhoods of Port Richmond, Northern Liberties, and South Street, relocated to heavily Jewish areas including South Philadelphia, Strawberry Mansion, and West Philadelphia. Organized Jewish education, largely community-sponsored, expanded after the war. The Associated Talmud Torahs, founded by the short-lived Kehillah (1911–early 1920s) in 1919 educated mostly boys and the Hebrew Sunday School Society enrolled mostly girls. In addition, numerous Yiddish supplementary schools, including Zionist, socialist, and communist branches opened by the 1920s.

The Reform and Orthodox movements were relatively weak. By the mid-1930s there were about more than 100 Orthodox congregations (many quite small); over 30 Conservative, and two Reform synagogues. English-speaking traditional synagogues, as well as some fairly liberal ones, identified as Conservative. With the exception of Mikveh Israel, few English-speaking Orthodox congregations existed until the late 1930s.

Overseas events provided the catalyst for cooperation. In June 1919, tens of thousands of Jews demonstrated against pogroms in the new state of Poland. In the 1930s under the impact of the depression, of overseas needs provoked by Hitlerism, and of the simultaneous rise of U.S. antisemitism, the Philadelphia Jewish community began to coalesce. In 1937, the first Allied Jewish Appeal campaign was conducted for funds to assist the yishuv and the victims of German oppression, supported by 9,000 donors raising $258,000. In 1938 the second aja drive, just after *Kristallnacht, reached 37,000 donors, including many working class and lower-income Jews able to give small amounts, raising $741,000. In 1939, there were 48,000 donors to the aja, 74% of whom contributed less than $10. A total of $902,000 was raised that year.

Overseas needs drove the expansion of Jewish fundraising during and after World War ii. For the first time, a community structure with mass participation was established on an ongoing basis. A council of local defense agencies was organized, resulting in the establishment of the Jewish Community Relations Council in 1938. Zionism, long only a small part of the Jewish scene, was growing in influence. Judge Louis Levinthal became head of the national Zionist Organization of America in 1943. Rose Bender (1895–1964) became the first woman executive director of a zoa office in 1945. In the same period, the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism (acj; 1943) was founded by Philadelphia rabbis and laymen, among them leaders of the Federation.

Post-World War ii: Community Change

Throughout the postwar period, Philadelphia Jewish life centered on Jewish neighborhoods and the dominant pattern of moderate traditionalism. Unlike some American cities, even at the close of the century close to half the Jews lived in the city of Philadelphia itself, with others living in contiguous innerring suburbs. In these neighborhoods, informal interactions reinforced synagogues and Jewish organizations.

Following World War ii, many Jews relocated to newer Jewish neighborhoods in the city (West Oak Lane, Mt. Airy, Overbrook Park, and especially the Northeast) or to inner ring suburbs such as Elkins Park–Old York Road and Lower Merion. Established synagogues moved, and new Jewish institutions were founded. Older Jewish neighborhoods, including Strawberry Mansion and South Philadelphia, declined due to the attractions of newer housing and in the former case racial conflict.

The merger in 1944 of several children's agencies into the Association for Jewish Children, was the first of a number of steps in the gradual restructuring of the community. The three Jewish hospitals merged into the Albert Einstein Medical Center in 1951. At the same time, many leaders were ambivalent about religious expression. The hospital's Frank Memorial Synagogue, opened in 1901, was closed in 1957. (An increased interest in Jewish identity led to its restoration in 1984.) Old hostilities and loyalties were overcome through the final merger of the Federation of Jewish Charities and the Allied Jewish Appeal into the Federation of Jewish Agencies (fja) in 1956.

Jewish education began to shift from communal auspices to congregational ones, still largely neighborhood-based. Akiba Hebrew Academy, a community secondary school, opened amid controversy in 1946. An Orthodox day school opened the same year and a Solomon Schechter day school (Conservative) opened in 1956. Gratz College reorganized and moved from North Philadelphia into a new building in Logan in 1962.

The Young Men's Hebrew Association and the Neighborhood Center were united in 1965, with a projected network of leisure time agencies throughout the metropolitan area. By 1970 most of the old institutional rivalries had been forgotten. The younger leaders did not know whose grandmother had been Ukrainian, or whose great-grandfather had been German. Money for Israel was raised and bonds for Israel were sold in the very synagogues whose former rabbis had created the anti-Zionist acj. Although a local Synagogue Council had failed in the 1950s, a flourishing Board of Rabbis testified to increased cooperation among Conservative, Orthodox, Reform and from the 1970s, Reconstructionist rabbis. The fja itself had moved far beyond its conceptual origins as a fund-raising agency and was functioning vigorously in broad areas of social planning.

1970s and 1980s: Transitions and New Voices

Philadelphia Jewish life continued to be neighborhood-based, even with increasing dispersion. By 1970, the Jewish population was concentrated in the Center City, Greater Northeast, Old York Road Suburban, West Oak Lane–Mt. Airy, Wynnefield, and Main Line sections, with growing centers in Levittown and Norristown.

There were over 100 congregations in the Philadelphia area of which approximately 50 were Conservative, 45 Orthodox, and 15 Reform. Some of the Orthodox congregations were quite small, and some were served by Conservative rabbis. While two of the largest Reform congregations in the country were located in Greater Philadelphia, the dominant religious thrust of the community was Conservative. Since most Reform congregations were formed after the war, they had fewer internal struggles regarding modifying the more radical reforms instituted by some older Reform congregations. Several Conservative congregations (including Adath Jeshurun, Beth Hillel-Beth El, and Germantown Jewish Centre) include participatory ḥavurah minyanim led by members, established in the 1970s and early 1980s. A resurgent interest in Orthodoxy was stimulated through work of branches of the Lubavitch movement and by a nationally known talmudic yeshivah established in Philadelphia by students of Rabbi Aaron *Kotler in 1952.

By the late 1960s, barriers to Jewish participation in civic and professional life were declining. Representative Jews were appointed to the boards of practically every bank in the city, as they had long served on the boards of the community's cultural and educational institutions. Many major corporations were actively soliciting applications for employment as executive trainees from young Jews, and almost every major law firm included a few Jews. In law, medicine, and other prestigious Philadelphia professions, Jewish leaders and pioneers were numerous. For example, in 1971, Martin Meyerson was named president of the University of Pennsylvania, the first Jewish head of an Ivy League college. Marvin Wachman served as president of Temple University from 1973 to 1982. Arlen *Specter served as district attorney (1966–74) and later as U.S. senator from 1981. His wife, Joan Specter, was a city council member (1980–1996.) David Cohen (1914–2005) was a formidable liberal member of city council from 1968 to 1971 and 1980–2005.

Although Jews occupied a significant place in the political and economic life of the area, Jews themselves were still rigorously and consciously excluded from most of the town and country clubs which represented the last strongholds of old Philadelphia "society."

By the 1980s, declining social boundaries meant that Jews no longer needed to affiliate with Jewish social clubs or charities. Increasingly, a challenge was to bring younger participants and potential donors into Jewish life.

[Bertram Wallace Korn /

Robert P. Taback (2nd ed.)]

Philadelphia continued national leadership in several areas. Local Holocaust survivors established one of the first outdoor public monuments in the U.S. in Center City in 1964. Local Jews played leading roles in the Soviet Jewry movement, and an annual rally each year was a prominent event in the 1970s and 80s.

The Jewish Renewal movement created one of its centers from the 1970s, stimulated by Rabbi Zalman *Schachter-Shalomi as well as by Rabbi Arthur *Green and Arthur *Waskow, all of whom lived in West Mount Airy. Other new organizations, including the National Havurah Committee, the Shomrei Adamah Jewish ecology movement, and the Shalom Center were based there. The Federation of Reconstructionist Congregations and Havurot joined the rabbinical college in Philadelphia in 1987.

By the 1980s, Jewish population had shifted again. In 1986, the Federation opened Mandell Education Campus in Melrose Park, including Gratz College (about 2 miles (3 km) north of its former home), the new Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education, day care, a Conservative day school, and other agencies.

A 1984 study estimated that about 53 percent of area Jews lived within the Philadelphia city limits. Sixty percent of the area's Jews were concentrated in four areas: Northeast Philadelphia, Center City, the City Line area, and the northern suburbs. The dominant religious group remained Conservative. Amy *Eilberg, the first woman Conservative rabbi, was from the city and served in Philadelphia congregational and chap-laincy positions in the 1980s.

The 1990s and Beyond: Dispersion and New Initiatives

Geographic dispersion increased by the 1990s. In 1996–97, 48 percent of Jewish households were within the city, a number in decline. A few urban neighborhoods such as Mt. Airy and Center City, and some inner suburbs such as Lower Merion and Elkins Park-Old York Road, maintained significant Jewish populations, as did the Orthodox enclaves in the city's Northeast and Overbook Park. These were a declining percentage of the region's Jewish population. Outside these neighborhoods, most Jewish movement was to suburban areas marked by commuting synagogues rather than neighborhood synagogues – only a few members lived within a mile or two (1.6–3 km) of the congregation.

Philadelphia Jewish life has been neighborhood-based. Increasing population dispersal meant that fewer Jews had neighbors or classmates who were Jewish. The Jewish community struggled to define itself with less geographic concentration. The Federation structure was changed to include four quasi-autonomous suburban regions, serving Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware counties. The Jewish Community Centers determined that building new physical structures was no longer efficient after the 1980s and established four jccs without walls in suburban counties. The Philadelphia Geriatric Center, renamed the Abramson Center for Jewish Living, relocated from urban Logan adjacent to Albert Einstein hospital, to suburban North Wales in 2002.

In 1990 the Federation of Jewish Charities adopted the name Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. The Federation and some of its agencies began to place greater emphasis on Jewish values, education, and observance. The Jewish Exponent, founded 1887, is the official organ of the Federation, which also publishes Inside, a quarterly magazine.

The community showed continued vitality. Since 1990, several new Reconstructionist and Orthodox congregations opened in the city itself and in the suburbs. Existing congregations in the suburbs from all movements expanded, although there were closures and mergers, particularly in Northeast Philadelphia. Six neighborhoods had eruvim (Sab-bath boundaries) in 2005. Both one Reform and one Conservative congregation opened mikva'ot after 2000. The Conservative movement continued a major role, with 38% identifying as Conservative, 28% as Reform, 12% as no denomination, 5% traditional, and 4% each as Orthodox, Reconstructionist, and secular humanist in 1997. Philadelphia was the only major U.S. city where the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly played a major role in kashrut supervision. Almost all Conservative congregations were formally egalitarian by the 1990s, but only a handful of women rabbis served that movement locally, unlike the Reconstructionist and Reform movements. There was a low level of formal affiliation. In 1997 only 37% of the population was affiliated with a synagogue.

A 2002 survey found 97 synagogues (excluding 8 in Chester county): 33 Orthodox, 28 Conservative, 21 Reform, 8 Reconstructionist, and 7 "other." Many of the synagogues and Jewish community centers have day care or nursery school programs. There are six elementary Jewish day schools, a middle school, and three high schools. Most children received their education in supplemental congregational schools. The Community Hebrew Schools, descendant of the 1838 Hebrew Sunday School Society, announced plans to close in 2006.

[Lillian Youman and

Robert P. Taback (2nd ed.)]

Jews were prominent in the wider community and government, particularly from the 1990s onward. Judith Rodin, president of the University of Pennsylvania from 1994 to 2004, was the first woman to head an Ivy League university. Stefan Presser (1953–2005), a forceful advocate for the poor and disabled and for church-state separation, served from 1983 to 2004 as legal director of the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union. Christie Balka served from 1997 as executive director of the Bread and Roses Community Fund, an umbrella group raising funds for local social change organizations. Shelly Yanoff, an advocate for health care for children, was executive director of Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth from 1986.

In the 1990s, Jews held the city's three highest elected offices, as well as serving in Congress, the state legislature, and as leaders in suburban communities. Edward *Rendell served as the first Jewish mayor of Philadelphia (1992–99), and later as governor. Lynne Abraham, a former judge, was district attorney of the city from 1991 and Jonathan Saidel was elected city controller four times from 1990. Allyson Y. Schwartz was a state senator representing the city and suburbs from 1991 to 2005, when she took office as a U.S. congresswoman for a city-suburban district. Businessman Sam Katz was the unsuccessful Republican candidate for Philadelphia mayor in 1999 and 2003.

Jewish population declined from an estimated 240,400 (256,100 people living in Jewish households, including non-Jews) in 1983–84 to 206,100 in 1996–97 (241,600 in Jewish households.) The decline (including some movement to Southern New Jersey) would have been greater had not some 30,000 immigrants arrived from the former Soviet Union, especially Ukraine. In 1996–97 12% of Jewish residents (15,200 people) lived in "poor" households with incomes under $15,000. Including these, almost 23% of the population (57,000 people) lived in low-income households. There were many elderly Jews, new immigrants, and single parents among the poor and near poor.

Philadelphia remained a center for Jewish studies. In addition to Gratz College and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, opened in 1968, several other centers were established. Dropsie University, affected by the rise of Judaic studies in secular universities, closed in 1986, eventually becoming the University of Pennsylvania Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. Temple University established the Feinberg Center for American Jewish history in 1990. The Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center opened in 1972. The National Museum of American Jewish History, opened on Independence Mall in 1976, planned a major expansion in 2005.

[Robert P. Taback (2nd ed.)]


E. Wolf and M. Whiteman, History of the Jews of Philadelphia (1957). add. bibliography: D. Ashton, Rebecca Gratz: Women and Judaism in Antebellum America (1997); L. Sussman, Isaac Leeser and the Making of American Judaism (1995); M. Friedman (ed.), Jewish Life in Philadelphia, 1830–1940 (1983); idem (ed.), When Philadelphia Was the Capital of Jewish America (1993); idem (ed.), Philadelphia Jewish Life, 1940–2000 (20032); G. Stern (ed.) Traditions in Transition: Jewish Culture in Philadelphia, 1840–1940 (1989); Summary Report: Jewish Population Study of Greater Philadelphia, 1996–1997; J. Schwartz, "Census of U.S. Synagogues," in: ajyb 2002; A. Harrison, Passover Revisited: Philadelphia's Efforts to Aid Soviet Jews, 1963–1998 (2001): R. Tabak, "The Transformation of Jewish Identity: The Philadelphia Jewish Experience, 1919–1945" (Ph.D. diss., Temple Univ. 1990); R. Peltz, From Immigrant to Ethnic Culture: American Yiddish in South Philadelphia (1998); D. Ashton, The PhiladelphiaGroup and Philadelphia Jewish History: A Guide to Archival and Bibliographic Collections (1993); H. Boonin, The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia: A History and Guide, 1881–1930 (1999).


views updated May 18 2018


Philadelphia was founded by William Penn in 1681 as the seat of government for Pennsylvania, the colony that had been granted to him by King Charles II. Penn hoped to provide a haven for fellow members of the Society of Friends, otherwise known as the Quakers. The Friends left their mark on America in many ways, but none perhaps was so great as the heritage of tolerance signified by the name Philadelphia, which means "City of Brotherly Love." The city's reputation for tolerance made it the perfect location for the cultural, as well as geographic, center of what would one day become the United States.


The key to Philadelphia's phenomenal growth lay in trade. Dozens of charters for new cities were written in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, but Philadelphia was uniquely situated to take advantage of a growing economic boom in export flour. Delaware Valley farms produced two wheat harvests a year. Unlike tobacco, another major export of the colonies that was shipped in its raw form and finished abroad, wheat was milled into the final product, flour, at hundreds of watermills scattered around the countryside. Barrels of flour arrived in Philadelphia by cart from as far south as Virginia and on small, flat-bottomed boats called shallops from Chesapeake and Delaware Bays.

Flour barrels reexported from Philadelphia had the added advantage of being literally branded as proof that Pennsylvania stood behind the quality of the flour inside. By the end of the colonial period, the government of Pennsylvania recognized seven different grades, the highest called "super fine" and marketed to Europe. Pennsylvania flour was sold in the West Indies, South Carolina, the sugar islands of Madeira and the Azores, southwestern Europe, and even New England.

The city's most useful product was information at a time when information from overseas markets traveled no faster than a sailing ship. News of the best prices for export flour spread even before an incoming ship had completely docked. Merchants gathered at coffeehouses in the center of the city quickly put together "ventures" to send new shipments out to the most promising market. It did not take long for Philadelphia also to become a center for the reexport of manufactured products such as cloth that was sold first in the city's hinterland and eventually to coastal cities throughout America.

growth of the cities

From roughly 1720—around the time when Pennsylvania passed laws to certify the quality of export flour and print a local paper money supply—to the end of the century, Philadelphia grew rapidly. Influenced by the planned rebuilding of London after the

great fire in 1666, Penn had imagined a beautiful city with wide boulevards, attractive city parks, and rows of brick townhouses backing up to gardens and trees. The rapidly growing population, however, apparently wished to settle as near to the city's center at Second and Market Streets as was physically possible. Residents defied Penn's plans by crisscrossing the wide city blocks with alleys and spilling over the city's northern and southern boundaries into the suburbs of Southwark and Northern Liberties.

By 1790, forty-five thousand people lived in Philadelphia and the urbanized area around it, an area defined not by the rectangular plan of Penn's design, but rather by a semicircle two miles along the Delaware River and, at its widest point along Market Street, one mile west of the river. Warehouses crowded along the waterfront, along with tightly packed housing for tailors. Mariners stayed along the south border of the river, while the shipbuilding industry dominated the riverside to the north.

The city boasted over three hundred inns, taverns, and boardinghouses and five hundred shopkeepers and grocers. Scattered throughout the city and living in shacks along the alleys or on the top floors of sturdier buildings, common laborers (black as well as white) accounted for one in twelve city residents. The city's formal market ran the length of Market Street, which along with Second Street divided the city into identifiable sectors.

prominent philadelphians

The city had three hundred self-identified merchants, including seven who specialized in the Chinese trade alone. Twenty-five identified themselves as brokers or dealers, thirty-one specialized in the flour trade, twenty-four in lumber, eight in iron, and eight in tea. Young merchants tended to live in or near the

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warehouses on the docks. The measure of success, however, was being able to move to the category of "gentleman" and live in Society Hill.

The enclosure of Dock Street, previously a foul-smelling open sewer, created a boom in building for the upper class in an area still called Society Hill in the early twenty-first century. It was centered on its own smaller market on Second Street south of Market. Thomas Willing, Benjamin Chew, Samuel Powell, William Shippen, and Robert Wharton—all famous merchants in their day—lived on Third and Fourth Streets. Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Rush also lived nearby. Wealthy widows from the Mifflin, Wharton, Gilpin, Bartram, and Hamilton families were neighbors in this new wealthy enclave.

The role of Independence Hall on Fifth and Chestnut led other wealthy residents to begin to build finer houses along Market on the western outskirts of the city. The most notable of these new residences was that of financier Robert Morris at Fifth and Market Streets. Morris loaned his home to George Washington during the latter's two terms as president of the United States. Thomas Jefferson stayed in this neighborhood while writing the Declaration of Independence and later when he was in the new national government. New houses there and in Society Hill were built further apart than elsewhere, and so the wealthy could avoid the chaos that characterized other sections of town. When a household member was ill, for example, sawdust was spread over the cobblestones in front of the house to keep the area quiet. Even sawdust could not have shut out the din of overcrowded blocks through most areas of the city.


The majority of shopkeepers and artisans operated to the northwest of Society Hill, clustering along Market Street, on Second Street, and also on Sixth Street north of Market. Approximately sixty different types of shopkeepers operated in the block surrounding the permanent market, along with numerous artisans and some professionals.

The variety of occupations offers a glimpse of the complexity of the city in 1790. There were twenty-three ministers, five sextons, twenty-eight clerks, ninety-eight schoolmasters or mistresses, fourteen university professors, fifty-five physicians, twenty-four pharmacists, five midwifes, nine bleeders, three dentists, one dispensary, and a "doctress." Thirty-one manufacturers specialized in carriages, thirty-seven as printers, twenty-four as chandlers, twenty-three as potters, fifteen as watchmakers, ten as clock-makers, thirteen as bookbinders, and ten as brush-makers. There were also comb makers, plane makers, sieve makers, soap boilers, card makers, three umbrella makers, two whip makers, seven pump makers, seven millstone makers, two engine makers, four fan makers, three parchment makers, five engravers, and glassblowers, along with a chaise maker, wire cage maker, cane maker, whalebone cutter, and pottery wheel maker. Other manufacturers made musical, mathematical, and obstetrical instruments; cigars; organs; trunks; hair powder; and hanging paper.

The city had 54 barbers, 192 innkeepers, 110 boardinghouses, 249 shopkeepers, 44 tobacconists, and 61 hucksters. In addition to 153 blacksmiths and 30 ironmongers, the city was home to 18 nail-makers, 25 silversmiths, 16 tinsmiths, 10 coppersmiths, brass founders, typefounders, block makers, gunsmiths, goldsmiths, cutlers, pewterers, and a steelmaker, wire maker, file cutter, and button mold maker. There were 131 butchers, 117 bakers, 34 brewers, and 18 sugar bakers or refiners, along with cake bakers, pastry cooks, chocolate makers, hardtack bakers, a mustard maker, and a confectioner.

To the southwest of the homes of the wealthy arose a city-within-a-city, home to a growing number of free blacks and slaves who had escaped from southern states across the Pennsylvania border to safety. Dr. Israel Butterfield, the first known African American physician and a leader in the fight against yellow fever, lived here.

City restrictions against "noxious" occupations had forced the wholesale butcher trade into a region of its own, Spring Garden, between the Northern Liberties and Germantown. Tanners and ropemakers also lived and worked outside the city proper. Carpenters lived on the outskirts of the city next to the new homes being built.

Whereas it was rare in the countryside for a woman to continue maintaining her own household after widowhood, female-headed households accounted for 10 percent of the total in Philadelphia. Wealthy widows, or gentlewomen, lived in Society Hill or the older sections once occupied by the wealthy closer to the river. Widows and women identified by a specific trade lived along with other shopkeepers and artisans in the northwest. It was standard practice in both shopkeeping and artisanal households for women to keep the books (including Debbie Franklin, Benjamin's common-law wife). After the death of a husband, it was easier for a woman to continue shopkeeping, or even directing the labor of artisans, than continuing to operate a farm on her own. There were also trades such as midwifery, cake baker, and mantua maker that were run by women.

environment and institutions

The bulk of the city was crowded and noisy. At its most densely populated point, twenty-four-hundred people lived in a single city block in an era when houses could be constructed only to four stories in height. The poorest of residents squeezed into shanties along alleys in the rain, living outdoors when the weather permitted. The children of the middling and upper classes spent a lot of their time outdoors by choice; those of the lower classes ran in little packs through the streets. By the first decade of the new nation, the city had exceeded a safe rate of population density, leaving it vulnerable to the nation's first major outbreak of disease, a yellow fever epidemic.

By the 1790s Philadelphia had a university and a medical school; two banks; the nation's first fire departments, insurance companies, and free library; and Benjamin Franklin's American Philosophical Society—so named to signify the role of the city as the center of America, not just the Delaware Valley.

the declaration and the constitution

The city would become best known for the legislative hall, known as the State House, that was built in the 1730s and 1740s to house the colonial legislature. A bell on top, ordered by the governor, had the inscription "Proclaim Liberty throughout the Land." Because of Philadelphia's central location along the coast—and its noted inclusiveness with regard to religion and creed—the city became home to both Continental Congresses through most of their operation. The Declaration of Independence was written in Philadelphia, signed in the State House—which became Independence Hall—and read to the public for the first time on its steps.

When the loose confederation of nation-states that had successfully won independence from Great Britain began to fall apart after the war, a convention was called in 1787, again in Philadelphia, to write a stronger constitution that would create by peaceful means an effective centralized government. Pennsylvania was the second state to ratify the new Constitution. Ironically, Pennsylvania was also the center of a revolt against the document, ending in a compromise by which a Bill of Rights was appended as the first amendments to the Constitution.

in the new nation

Had Philadelphia remained the capital of the new United States, it might have become a city with the size and prominence of Paris, as many educated residents dreamed. However, during the Revolution a group of Pennsylvania militiamen had marched on the Continental Congress, then meeting in Philadelphia, requesting (rather forcefully) that they be paid. From a distance, the request seems perfectly reasonable—but the manner, which Congress found frightening, led instead to its move across the river into New Jersey for a time. When the convention convened in the same building to write the Constitution, members remembered that particular outburst and insisted that there be a separate district for the nation's government so that the real or imagined failings of the state government would not directly impact the workings of the new federal government.

When the Constitution was approved in 1788, the mechanics of Philadelphia mounted a grand parade, by their own accounts, down a street that would forever be known as Arch Street because of the construction of a triumphant arch just for the occasion. Each artisan specialty marched, often with an accompanying float, in honor of the new nation. The first national capital under the new Constitution was New York City, where George Washington was inaugurated as president in April 1789. The following year, however, the federal government moved to Philadelphia. Briefly, the economic, political, and social centers of the new nation were all in Philadelphia. However, the federal government moved south to the new District of Columbia in 1800 and New York City gained primacy in international finance and domestic trade in the nineteenth century, particularly after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825.

The first decades of the nineteenth century were not easy for Philadelphia, but the city continued to grow nevertheless. Philadelphia merchants continued to prosper in the China and West Indies trade. The city also remained a reexporter to southern ports and, through New Orleans, parts of the Ohio River Valley. The old artisan system of master-journeyman-apprentice died out, but Philadelphia remained a center of specialized manufacture, particularly with regard to machinery and fabrics. The city was no longer the financial capital of the nation, but in a period where the major money supply came from private banks, the city did not lack for either banks or money. Finally, the city grew as a center of abolitionist thought, and as the northern terminus of the Underground Railroad, it drew slaves to the city-within-a-city of free blacks and to numerous surrounding rural African American settlements.

After an ill-fated effort to create its own Main Line Canal westward through the mountains, the city ceded the route to the newly created, private Pennsylvania Railroad, which by the 1850s would dominate inland railroad trade. In the 1840s German and Irish immigration through the port of Philadelphia led to renewed growth in the backcountry and provided a labor force of young adults willing to take on whatever work was necessary. The city's rebirth was not easy. Journeymen struggled to find a niche in the new world of wage labor, and nativist riots led to the establishment of the nation's first Catholic parochial school system. By 1850, however, the city was once again on the rise, a center of international and national trade as well as custom manufacturing in textiles and machinery. Philadelphia's particular gift then and in the future would be the ability to reshape itself as the nation changed around it.

See alsoAmerican Philosophical Society; China Trade; City Growth and Development; City Planning; Foreign Investment and Trade; Immigration and Immigrants; Pennsylvania; Social Life: Urban Life; Work: Artisans and Crafts Workers, and the Workshop .


Bridenbaugh, Carl, and Jessica Bridenbaugh. Rebels and Gentlemen: Philadelphia in the Age of Franklin. New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1942.

Doerflinger, Thomas M. A Vigorous Spirit of Enterprise: Merchants and Economic Development in Revolutionary Philadelphia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986.

Foner, Eric. Tom Paine and Revolutionary America. Updated ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Jensen, Arthur L. The Maritime Commerce of Colonial Philadelphia. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1963.

Klepp, Susan E. Philadelphia in Transition: A Demographic History of the City and Its Occupational Groups, 1720–1830. New York: Garland, 1989.

Lapsansky, Emma Jones. Neighborhoods in Transition: William Penn's Dream and Urban Reality. New York: Garland, 1994.

Nash, Gary B. Quakers and Politics: Pennsylvania, 1681–1726. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1968.

Newman, Simon P. Embodied History: The Lives of the Poor in Early Philadelphia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003.

Ryerson, Richard Alan. The Revolution Is Now Begun: The Radical Committees of Philadelphia, 1765–1776. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978.

Schweitzer, Mary M. Custom and Contract: Household, Government, and the Economy in Colonial Pennsylvania. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987.

——. "The Spatial Organization of Federalist Philadelphia." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 24 (1993): 31–57.

Smith, Billy G. The "Lower Sort": Philadelphia's Laboring People, 1750–1800. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990.

Thompson, Peter. Rum Punch and Revolution: Taverngoing and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.

Tolles, Frederick Barnes. Meeting House and Counting House: The Quaker Merchants of Colonial Philadelphia, 1682–1763. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1948.

Tully, Alan. William Penn's Legacy: Politics and Social Structure in Provincial Pennsylvania, 1726–1755. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977.

Warner, Sam Bass, Jr. The Private City: Philadelphia in Three Periods of Its Growth. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1968.

Wulf, Karen A. Not All Wives: Women of Colonial Philadelphia. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2000.

Mary Schweitzer


views updated May 18 2018


Struggling to avoid being eclipsed by the economic upstart New York, Philadelphians entered the second quarter of nineteenth century with a self-conscious appreciation of their own sophistication mixed with anxiety over losing their supremacy. Since the mid-eighteenth-century, Philadelphia—measured by the breadth and value of its international markets, its infrastructure and cosmopolitan population, and the number and variety of its civic institutions—ranked just behind London as the second most dynamic city in the powerful British Empire. Those who experienced Philadelphia between 1820 and 1870 witnessed an acceleration of that dynamic.

But sophistication and acceleration proved insufficient. New York soon overtook Philadelphia in population and wealth. However, Philadelphia retained some unique attributes that earned it a distinctive niche in American economy and culture.


In 1845, when William Henry Fry (1813–1864) unveiled his grand opera Leonora, Philadelphia was reminded that though it might no longer be the biggest and the richest, it was often still a city of innovation. Fry's opera—the first created by an American composer—was performed, with a sixty-piece orchestra, at the Chestnut Street Theatre. More than a decade later the work was translated into Italian and performed in New York.

Philadelphia was already sensitive to its own history. The Germantown bank cashier John Fanning Watson, a self-styled historian, had published in 1830 his Annals of Philadelphia. In this volume Watson was a trailblazer in using first-person interviews to capture how eighteenth-century Philadelphians viewed their world and their story. Watson had much to celebrate: the 1820s had brought the refurbishing of the Philadelphia State House, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Now enshrined in a spiffedup park, the statehouse reminded Philadelphians that they were part of the founding of the great experiment that was America. That same decade had seen the establishment of two other institutions devoted to promoting the city's image: the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Franklin Institute—the former for "elucidating the natural, civil and literary" history of Pennsylvania and the latter to "promote the mechanick" arts by sponsoring scientific education for those involved in manufacturing. Over the succeeding decades dozens of such organizations sprang up, aimed at celebrating, educating, protecting, or reforming the citizenry or to encourage Philadelphia's economic innovation. The city was poised to dazzle residents and tourists alike.

Philadelphians were justly proud of their social and economic innovation. In the 1830s a parade of foreign observers stopped in to view Eastern State Penitentiary, the new prison system housed in the stately building designed by the distinguished architect John Haviland (1792–1852). Haviland, who had earned his reputation by creating the Philadelphia Arcade, another shrine—this one to the city's burgeoning businesses—had also designed the city's innovative Pennsylvania Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. Eastern State provided state-of-the-art housing for local criminals; the arcade was the city's most modern conglomeration of shops and stores; and the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb reflected the growing sense of public responsibility for needy citizens.

Tourists were well-rewarded for their visits. The Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville's Observations on the Penitentiary System in the United States, and Its Application in France were published by Philadelphia's Carey, Lea, and Blanchard in 1833. Two years later the same firm published the diary of the British actress Fanny Kemble, who found Philadelphia equally fascinating. (The publisher Henry Carey was the successor to his father's firm, Matthew Carey and Company, which dominated the U.S. publishing industry of the 1820s. Another Carey son, Edward, partnered with Abraham Hart in 1829 to form Carey and Hart, which also joined the ranks of the best-known publishing houses in the United States.) Transformed by the 1830s from a seaport city to a seat of urban industry, Philadelphia had an up-and-coming middle class, newly moneyed and anxious to take its place among the ranks of consumerism. Weathering two economic downturns in 1837 and 1843, it could still dream, and its dreams could still draw praise.

Having been the nation's innovator in developing a public water delivery system—designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe in 1800—the city leaders took the bold step of buying up private riverside property in the 1840s in order to protect the purity of the water supply. So began Fairmount Park, which remains one of the world's largest contiguous city parks. Indoor plumbing, domestic gas service, and public street lighting followed close behind. With advances in lithography (pioneered in the 1820s by Cephas G. Childs, then later expanded by the partnership of George Lehman and Peter S. Duval), this urban development was well-documented in pictures as well as words. And one of America's first daguerrotypes immortalized the early years of Central High School, an institution that has retained its reputation as one of the nation's premier public schools.

By 1854, when the city and the surrounding county were consolidated into one municipality, the region encompassed a population that had almost doubled over the previous decade. Not only bigger—grown from one square mile to more than one hundred square miles—the city was also increasingly cosmopolitan, embracing (if sometimes contentiously) multiple nationalities, religions, and races. Elizabeth M. Geffen records that in 1850 the visiting Hungarian countess Theresa Pulszky saw "the stamp of wealth and commerce wherever we cast our glance on the buildings and inhabitants," while a British visitor of the same time found "something more than usually wonderful in the growth of Philadelphia" (p. 314).

Much of Philadelphia had been born out of Benjamin Franklin's (1706–1790) boundless energy and initiative, and his legacy stretched far beyond his death. So while New York outstripped it in size, Philadelphians more than kept pace in imagination.


Part of Philadelphia's "something wonderful" was a vigorous publishing industry. In fact Philadelphia entrepreneurs were leaders in the new profession of "publisher"—a career developing in the early nineteenth century from the marriage of what the historian Rosalind Remer calls "printers and men of capital." The 1830s modern publisher was, in many cases, a printer who had developed new strategies for enhancing his income. The first step was often for a skilled printer to team up with a savvy businessman who had access to ready funds. Hence many a mid-nineteenth-century publishing firm had two or more names—the craftsman plus the backers who had the ear of Philadelphia's powerful banking and insurance industry. In the early national period the First Bank of the United States and the Bank of Pennsylvania had dominated the American economy. Then the Second Bank of the United States, occupying the impressive Greek revival structure built for it by William Strickland in the 1820s, meant that Philadelphia was the seat of a deep well of capital from which to draw. The city also was home to an extensive community of wealthy individuals, whose informal investment network kept much of Philadelphia's business afloat.

Sometimes book producers sought to raise the visibility of their wares by relocating from the periphery to the commercial centers of the city. Other schemes for expansion were more aggressive. The bookseller William Woodward hired ministers to carry religious books to sell as they fanned out into the hinterland. After 1834, when Philadelphia instituted public education administered by local school boards, school-books became another valuable staple. The textbook firm of McCarty and Davis introduced both traveling salesmen and the branch store to expand their publishing empire as far afield as Tennessee, Louisiana, and Missouri. McCarty and Davis next secured their market by producing inexpensive almanacs, do-it-yourself legal works, and novels. Their mission was assisted by the tumbling costs of production and materials beginning in the 1820s, culminating in the transition from rag paper to wood-pulp sheets by the end of the 1850s.

Philadelphia still holds the distinction of having the oldest continuously operating lending library in the English-speaking world: the Library Company of Philadelphia. An important aspect of Benjamin Franklin's legacy, the library helped to sustain the stream of publishing by encouraging a reading public and building rich and international collections for its upper-class members. But Library Company members were only one element of the reading public. School texts, such as The Arithmetical Expositor, authored by Enoch Lewis in 1824 and reissued several times in succeeding decades, produced steady profits for the publisher Kimber and Sharpless. Lindley Murray's English Grammar, which first appeared in 1800, brought more than six decades of profits for Philadelphia book trade. And Jacob Snider's 1833 edition of the Bible, printed in embossed letters for students at the new Pennsylvania Institution for the Instruction of the Blind, reinforced the city's sense of nurturing innovation.

Popular periodicals also enlivened readers' days. Zachariah Poulson took over John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole's American Daily Advertiser in 1800, publishing it until 1839, when it was overshadowed by the more aggressive Public Ledger, founded in 1836. Philadelphia's first "penny paper"—a modern news sheet that took full advantage of inexpensive production techniques—the Ledger initiated the policy of hiring teams of reporters and home delivery boys to ensure that their customers got the hottest news—and they got it right at their own front doors. The Ledger soon had the largest circulation in Pennsylvania.

Godey's Lady's Book outpaced the Ledger, garnering a readership that stretched across the North and the South and by the 1850s claimed some 150,000 subscriptions for its monthly offerings. In a career that began in 1830 and ran for more than six decades (to 1898), Godey's Lady's Book both created and responded to the new woman who eagerly awaited its features of fashion, fiction, and music. Lavishly illustrated and richly focused on romantic images of domesticity and motherhood, Godey's was perhaps the supreme symbol of modern publishing possibilities and the sophisticated urban audience.

The city's publishing enterprise also spawned some surprising offspring. Mathias Baldwin (1795–1866), who began as a manufacturer of bookbinders' tools in Philadelphia in the 1820s, had turned his metalworking know-how to more ambitious directions by the 1830s: he began producing steam-driven locomotives. By the time of his death in 1866, his factory at Broad and Spring Garden Streets had employed hundreds of immigrant workers to build more than one thousand of these machines, which he sold all over the world. In turn his factory had given rise to Midvale Steel, which turned out metal parts to supply the Baldwin Locomotive Works, beginning in 1867.


Partly resulting from the enduring influence of its Quaker founders, antebellum Philadelphia was host to two unique realities: a vigorous energy for social reform and a large and flourishing African American population. Often these two realities fed off each other. Since the eighteenth century, a number of Philadelphia Quakers had been active in antislavery agitation. As abolitionist ferment increased during the 1830s—sometimes intertwining with the women's rights movement—Philadelphians, especially Philadelphia Quakers, joined forces with African Americans in other cities like Boston and New York in pursuit of racial justice. Their various activities have left much evidence in the form of paper and ink. In 1838, for example, the five-year-old Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society (PFASS, an interracial organization) built its own meeting place—Pennsylvania Hall—only to have it destroyed by a white mob that resented their cross-racial socializing. J. T. Bowen's lithograph immortalized the event.

Not all abolitionists were as wedded to racial equality as was the PFASS, but the debate about how to end slavery and the fate of freed people helped enliven Quaker periodicals such as the Friend, which began publishing in 1827. The Friends Intelligencer, by William Moore, joined the conversation in 1844, as the voice of the schismatic Hicksite Quakers tended to embrace a more radical antislavery strategy than did their more conservative Orthodox rivals. And the mathematics text writer Enoch Lewis took advantage of his captive school audience to insert short notes promoting racial justice and antimilitarism.

Travelers—black and white—found Philadelphia to be a crucial stop on any American tour, and inevitably they reported on the city's race relations and black enterprises. Tocqueville remarked upon the psychological freedom of the city's black population and upon the anxiety it caused many white residents. The Philadelphia experience figured prominently in the narrative of fugitive slaves, such as Ellen and William Craft, who fled to the city from Georgia in 1848 and documented their story in the memoir Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom (1860). Henry "Box" Brown's daring escape from Richmond, Virginia, by means of having himself nailed into a 2-foot-by-2-foot crate and shipped as "dry goods," ended with his being uncrated in Philadelphia and being immortalized in an image created by Peter Kramer and then lithographed by Louis Napoleon Rosenthal. The black historian William Wells Brown complained of Philadelphia's "colorphobia" (Weigley, p. 363), but when Martin Delany, the era's premier black political commentator, recounted his Philadelphia experience in his 1859 novel Blake; or, The Huts of Africa, he praised the array of organizations resulting from black enterprise. Little wonder that when Frank J. Webb wrote The Garies and Their Friends, America's second novel by a black author (published in New York in 1857), he set the story in Philadelphia's upper-class black community.

Philadelphia's black leaders early enjoined the city's literary discourse with their own set of concerns. As early as the 1790s yellow fever epidemic, black spokesmen developed a protest voice that swelled over the decades to include the wealthy sailmaker James Forten's Series of Letters by a Man of Color, published in pamphlet form in 1813, then republished in the nation's first black newspaper, Freedom's Journal, in 1827. Forten's son-in-law, Robert Purvis, took up the cause in 1837, authoring an "Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens, Threatened with Disfranchisement, to the People of Pennsylvania," which also appeared in a black newssheet, the Colored American. Such abolitionist literature, which poured forth from black Philadelphians, was often published by sympathetic local Quaker printers, culminating in the 1872 publication of The Underground Rail Road, penned by the black Underground Railroad organizer William Still and published by the abolitionist Quaker firm of Porter and Coates. Perhaps the most enduring legacy of black Philadelphia, however, is the Christian Recorder, founded in 1852 by the city's Mother Bethel AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church. The only African American news sheet to publish continuously through the Civil War, the Christian Recorder stood, for many decades, as an authoritative voice of black Philadelphia and indeed of black America.

The Philadelphia that lost its supremacy never regained its first-place status. Nevertheless, creating its own niche in publishing, reform, finance, and indus-try, it remained an important stop on the American tourist trail. With its cosmopolitan population, reform initiatives, and innovative manufacturing strategies, it remained a major port and manufacturing center in the decades following the Civil War.

See alsoAbolitionist Writing; Banking, Finance, Panics, and Depressions; Blacks; Foreigners; Literary Marketplace; New York; Publishers; Quakers; Slave Narratives; Tourism


Primary Work

Watson, John F. Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania:In the Olden Time; Being a Collection of Memoirs, Anecdotes, and Incidents of the City and Its Inhabitants, and of the Earliest Settlements of the Inland Part of Pennsylvania. 1830. Philadelphia: The Author, 1844.

Secondary Works

Geffen, Elizabeth M. "Industrial Development and Social Crisis, 1841–1854." In Philadelphia: A Three-Hundred-Year History, edited by Russell Weigley, pp. 307–362. New York: Norton, 1982.

Hamm, Thomas D. The Transformation of AmericanQuakerism: Orthodox Friends, 1800–1907. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.

Lapsansky, Emma J. "Building Democratic Communities, 1800–1850." In Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth, edited by Randall M. Miller and William Pencak, pp. 153–202. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002.

Lapsansky, Phillip. "Graphic Discord: Abolitionist and Anti-abolitionist Images." In The Abolitionist Sisterhood: Women's Political Culture in Antebellum America, edited by Jean Fagan Yellin and John C. Van Horne, pp. 201–230. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994.

Lehuu, Isabelle. Carnival on the Page: Popular Print Media inAntebellum America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Remer, Rosalind. Printers and Men of Capital: PhiladelphiaBook Publishers in the New Republic. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.

Wainwright, Nicholas B. "The Age of Nicholas Biddle, 1825–1841." In Philadelphia: A Three-Hundred-Year History, edited by Russell Weigley, pp. 258–306. New York: Norton, 1982.

Wainwright, Nicholas B. Philadelphia in the Romantic Age of Lithography. Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1958.

Weigley, Russell. "The Border City in Civil War, 1854–1865." In Philadelphia: A Three-Hundred-Year History, edited by Russell Weigley, pp. 363–416. New York: Norton, 1982.

Wolf, Edwin, and Marie Elena Korey. Quarter of aMillennium: The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1731–1981; A Selection of Books, Manuscripts, Maps, Prints, Drawings, and Paintings. Philadelphia: Library Company, 1981.

Zboray, Ronald J. A Fictive People: Antebellum EconomicDevelopment and the American Reading Public. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Emma J. Lapsansky-Werner


views updated May 14 2018


Philadelphia through the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was the largest and most important city in the British North American colonies and then in the early American republic. For more than one hundred years thereafter, it was among the greatest manufacturing centers in the country. One of its nicknames, "Workshop to the World," was entirely justified. With economic read-justments after World War II, however, Philadelphia began a long decline and slipped from being the third largest U.S. city to its ranking as fifth in the 2000 census. Although the economy of the region remains strong, the contemporary urban core shares many of the problems common to postindustrial cities. The downtown area, however, known in Philadelphia as Center City, is thriving, in no small part due to the presence of the many LGBT residents and businesses that were committed to the area long before there were signs of economic revival. This broad picture is necessary to contextualize the history of sexual and gender minorities in Philadelphia.

There are few sources upon which to base a detailed LGBT history before the late nineteenth century. With most of that early period, all that exists, or has been discovered so far, are legal documents, so little social or cultural history is possible. What antigay laws there were, as was the case with many laws on other subjects, completely ignored women. Pennsylvania was probably the most tolerant colony in general, and its relatively light penalties for sodomy reflected that ethos, though other crimes that were perceived as being of a moral nature, such as adultery, fornication, and lying, were criminal there (but not in other colonies or in England) and could have severe sentences. The death penalty for sodomy was abolished by a 1676 English law that applied the ultimate sanction only to murder. Later statutes did apply the death penalty, but only to cases of "buggery" by "negros." In 1718 it was once again applied to whites as well. True to its original position, Pennsylvania, after joining the union, became the first state to revoke the death penalty for sodomy. Obviously, there are many gaps in the LGBT record. One topic that bears investigation is the role of sexual minorities among Pennsylvania Germans. According to the 1790 census, this group made up 31 percent of the new state's population, just slightly less than the Anglo-American plurality.

Two events, one obscure, one well-known, typify the place of gay men in late-nineteenth-century Philadelphia (and are emblematic of the larger American experience). A young effeminate man was sent by his mother to the Insane Department of Philadelphia's public hospital in 1886 largely because he was suffering from extreme delusions. What is unclear from the report of the case is whether or not it was the delusions that got him there or the fact that he was inclined to masturbate and fondle or fellate other men. This example of the medicalization of a lower-class individual stands in contrast with the meeting of two gay artistic titans. Oscar Wilde was not yet at the pinnacle of his career when he visited the United States in 1882, but he was well on his way. At first the American poet Walt Whitman was not particularly interested in Wilde. Wilde, however, extravagantly praised him in a public speech in Philadelphia, and Whitman invited him to Camden, New Jersey, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. They talked of prosody, the future of literature, and the contrasts between the United States and England. For his part, Wilde was deeply moved by visiting "the grand old man," and, according to his companion, was mostly deep in thought on his trip back to Philadelphia.

Whether or not Whitman's presence nearby was responsible, Philadelphia seems to have had more than its share of artists who were either attracted to members of the same sex or whose work was homoerotically charged. Whitman's close relationship with the artist Thomas Eakins is well documented, not least in Eakins's portrait (said to be Whitman's favorite) and photographs of the poet. The Charlotte Cushman Club, founded originally by the famous nineteenth-century actress, provided hotel space for visiting actresses and other social venues for lesbians beginning in 1907.

The record broadens and grows much more detailed after 1900. With it comes a broader perspective on LGBT life. Clues to the lives of ordinary people become more abundant. Rittenhouse Square in central Philadelphia is mentioned many times in various early-twentieth-century sources as being a location for gay cruising and socializing. Social workers and newspapers began to note the growing presence of gender nonconformists. Even various LGBT folk customs are recorded, including dress habits, cruising techniques, and argot. One of historian Jonathan Ned Katz's more striking examples involves a straight detective and his friends being solicited on a Philadelphia street by a male cross-dresser. Though some early-twentieth-century writers were struck by the differences that were displayed by inverts in various U.S. cities, the detective recognized their commonalities.

Katz also made translations of relevant passages from pioneer scholar and activist Magnus Hirschfeld's monumental The Homosexuality of Men and Women (1914). In the early twentieth century, Hirschfeld comprehensively covered what was known about homosexuality in his day. In addition to surveying the literature, he did a world tour to discover what he could. In the United States, he was told that Philadelphia had a hidden but active world available to sexual minorities. A letter he received from a Colorado professor corroborated this perception in describing a Turkish bathhouse frequented by about sixty homosexuals in Philadelphia every Saturday night.

The scattered references to same-sex desire continued through the 1930s and deserve fuller investigation. One of the most intriguing is a photograph of Ray St. Clare and Sepia Mae West that appeared in the Philadelphia Tribune, the city's African American newspaper, on 13 February 1936. Headlined "Funny what love will do," its subject is a couple in wedding attire. Sepia is described in the caption as being one of Philadelphia's most prominent female impersonators. Evidently, the wedding was the "largest ever given in any nite [sic ] club." There are accounts of similar ceremonies from that era and for the next few decades as well.

World War II was a dividing line in Philadelphia, just as it was elsewhere in the United States. Though not as important an embarkation point for returning veterans as New York City, New Orleans, and San Francisco, it was nonetheless a large navy and army city with enough of an institutional and commercial base to provide support for LGBT returning veterans. The focus of the emerging LGBT community was in Center City, where most of the nightlife was concentrated. Though some LGBT bars were established before the war, many more can be documented from the 1950s and later periods. The majority of them were in Center City, but some were located in North Philadelphia, a predominantly African American neighborhood; on the docks; and even in some suburbs.

Characteristically, many late-night restaurants catered to the LGBT bar crowd. The most well-known of these was Dewey's, which in 1965 was also the site of one of the first, if not the first, demonstrations for equal treatment of LGBT people in a commercial establishment. The management there refused to serve LGBT people, fearing they drove away other customers. A local activist group, the Janus Society, sponsored two sit-downs, the first leading to several arrests.

Walt Whitman remained controversial even long after his death in 1892. John Wanamaker, the department store founder, refused to stock Whitman's work early in the twentieth century, but the poet did not really become an irritant until mid-century. A new bridge spanning the Delaware River (separating Philadelphia from New Jersey) was scheduled to be named for him. For the burgeoning conservative Roman Catholic movement of the 1950s, it was a disgrace to name the bridge after someone these Catholics thought degenerate. There were, however, also pressures supporting the name. Several scholars wrote to the river's governing body in favor of Whitman's name, and some religious officials did so as well. The two-year controversy had ended by 1957, the year the structure opened as the Walt Whitman Bridge, but it was long remembered by Philadelphians. Subsequently, Whitman, by virtue of having the bridge named after him, became a source of pride for gays. Three decades after the bridge's completion, a public service announcement produced by the Philadelphia Lesbian and Gay Task Force presented a young man (with the bridge prominently in the background), who, shortly after coming out, wondered why his teachers had never told him that Whitman was gay.

During the 1960s, there were more important developments than the bridge controversy. The establishment of several LGBT activist organizations during that decade provided staying power, visibility, and continuity for the community that enhanced its long-term viability. Of course, they created tension as well. The Mattachine Society came to the city in 1960, about a decade after its founding in Los Angeles. Ultimately, the local group changed its name to the Janus Society of the Delaware Valley. Over time, Philadelphia was distinguished in at least two ways from the homophile movement elsewhere. At least in the early years, there seemed to be better relations between men and women there than in other cities. And ultimately, those attached to the movement by the mid-1960s became more radicalized than was the norm. After conflicts developed between men and women, most lesbians left the Janus Society to devote their energies instead to a revived Mattachine chapter, a chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, and a local Homophile Action League. The most visible signs of radicalization in Philadelphia, if the sit-ins at Dewey's are not provocative enough, were the protests at Independence Hall, Philadelphia's global symbol of freedom, on the Fourth of July from 1965 through 1969.

The social life of LGBT people was also enlarging considerably. Spruce Street was becoming the "main street" of "the life" in the city. Most of the bars and restaurants were there or nearby. The Allegro, between Broad and Fifteenth, was very popular for more than two decades until it closed in 1983. The corner of Spruce and Broad Streets was the LGBT assembly point for the New Year's Mummers Parade, a major Philadelphia event. Henri David's drag parties were well known. Henry McIlhenny, who was from a wealthy and socially prominent Philadelphia family, held famous gay parties at his mansion just off of Rittenhouse Square. Atlantic City became, more than ever, a resort destination with a "gay beach" for Philadelphia men and women. The annual June parades celebrating LGBT pride became regularized in the early 1970s.

Philadelphia during the 1960s and 1970s also had one of the most repressive police commissioners in the country. Frank Rizzo, who later became mayor, was notorious for turning a blind eye to violations of everyone's civil rights. For sexual and gender minorities, police abuse took the form of the usual tactics of raiding bars and petty harassment of any street activity that could be considered a misdemeanor, no matter how insignificant. The police were especially virulent on the so-called merry-go-round, a cruising circle that was partly located on Spruce Street, near Schuylkill River Park. So closely is the park identified with the LGBT community that many people, including straights, still know the park as Judy Garland Park, after the gay icon.

The Eromin Center ("Eromin" for erotic minorities) was established in 1973. It was a clearinghouse to serve the psychological needs and sexual health concerns of LGBT people and was one of the first of its kind. With an outpatient clinic that provided group and individual therapy, among other services, its importance to the community was greater than the numbers it served (which were considerable). In a sense, it was like a glue for the community and a safety net. It lasted until the late 1980s. About the same time, an early manifestation of an LGBT community center occupied a small building on Kater Street, near Fifth. Another locale for service was the Christian Association on the University of Pennsylvania campus. During the 1970s and 1980s it housed a peer education group for LGBT people and was also the venue of an annual cultural festival that drew performers and speakers from all over the world.

AIDS consumed most of the community's energies in Philadelphia, as it did elsewhere, in the 1980s and after. The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) was the locus of action on a variety of fronts. It applied pressure on medical and social service institutions in the city to provide for people with AIDS. Once governmental and private organizations were established, ACT UP held them to account on a variety of points, including race, gender, and class issues. In Philadelphia its protest function was most dramatically evident on 12 September, 1991, when an estimated 7,500 people from many constituencies demonstrated outside the Hotel Atop the Bellevue, where President George H. W. Bush was attending a Republican fund-raising dinner. When ACT UP protestors staged their signature die-in, an ersatz coffin inadvertently fell over the barricades. The police then charged the crowd with night-sticks and arrested eight protesters. A civilian panel condemned the police tactics. The city itself would settle a separate federal suit filed by ACT UP on behalf of fourteen people and five other groups who alleged that the police had violated their civil rights during the demonstration.

Though not a project of ACT UP in the formal sense, AIDS activist Kiyoshi Kuromiya's Critical Path AIDS Project was a cutting-edge adjunct to the group's work. His long, creative, activist credentials were put to good use in the struggle against AIDS. Critical Path was a newsletter for those with AIDS that combined practical information with serious scientific articles. Recognizing that "information is power," Kuromiya was among the first to use the Web to disseminate information about AIDS, and became internationally famous. Though the print version ceased when Kuromiya died in 2000, the Web site continued to be maintained.

Early-twenty-first-century Philadelphia has a large LGBT population, and though it is not as prominent on the national scene as the LGBT communities in many other cities are, it is substantial enough to support a variety of institutions and activities. The "gayborhood," as it has come to be called here, is centered east of Broad Street, on Thirteenth Street, between Walnut and Pine.

The William Way Community Center was founded in 1996 and in 1997 purchased the Engineers' Club building in Center City. Even before purchasing the building, the center had been awarded a $300,000 grant by the federal government's Department of Housing and Urban Development, for renovations. The four-story building houses the Philadelphia LGBT Library and Archives and has offices for more than ten organizations, in addition to sponsoring its own support and social service groups. Today nearly three thousand people use the building each month.

Another center serves the LGBT community at the University of Pennsylvania. Founded in 1982, it became the first such center in the nation to have its own building. David Goodhand and Vincent Griski met at the university in 1983 and became early Microsoft employees. In 2000 they made a substantial gift to the university. The university administration decided to use the funds to provide a committed building to the center.

The Equality Forum began as Pridefest America in 1993 and is held every year in late April and early May. Programming has included seminars on the entire gamut of LGBT topics, from the arts and cinema to political and health issues. Performances and exhibits of all kinds are also part of its mission. Over the years, it has gone from a three-day to a week-long event.

Philadelphia has long languished, caught in an awkward place in the Northeast Corridor. With the nation's financial capital to the north, its governmental capital to the south, and its star on the national stage long past, the city could have easily gone into irreversible, permanent decline. That it has not done so is due, at least in part, to the vibrant LGBT population that has made up a large part of the city's urban center for more than fifty years.


Azzolina, David S. "The Circle Always Grew: Folklore and Gay Identity, 1945–1960." Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1996.

Ellmann, Richard. Oscar Wilde. New York: Knopf, 1988.

Katz, Jonathan Ned. Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary. New York: Harper, 1983.

——. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A: A Documentary History. New York: Meridian, 1992.

Nickels, Thom. Gay and Lesbian Philadelphia. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia, 2002.

Philadelphia Gay News, 3 January 1976–3 December 1982.

Stein, Marc. City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945–1972. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Weigley, Russell F., ed. Philadelphia: A 300-Year History. 2d ed. New York: Norton, 1982. The best history of the city.

David Azzolina

see alsobarber, samuel, and gian carlo menotti; bentley, gladys; cornwell, anita; cushman, charlotte; drum; eakins, thomas; erickson, reed; gittings, barbara, and kay tobin lahusen; hart, alan; homophile movement demonstrations; janus society; kuromiya, kyoshi; locke, alain; polak, clark; radicalesbians; rights of association and assembly; tsang, daniel; whitman, walt; wittman, carl.

Philadelphia: Economy

views updated May 23 2018

Philadelphia: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Manufacturing and the related distribution sector were traditionally the backbone of the Philadelphia economy. Since the end of World War II this industrial base has declined, as it has in many of the established industrial cities of the Northeast and upper Midwest, as many firms moved to new locations in the suburbs or migrated to other regions of the country. Today, the region has evolved into a more diverse economy geared toward information and service-based businesses.

Computer-based businesses, finance, telecommunications, insurance companies, and the printing and publishing industries are doing well. The biomedical field, encompassing hospitals, medical schools, pharmaceutical firms, research institutions, manufacturers of medical instruments and supplies, and medical publishing, is flourishing in Philadelphia. As manufacturing continues to recede, the city's educational and health institutions have come forward as important drivers of the regional economy. Education currently represents about 12 percent of city and 7 percent of suburban employment. Health services constitute about 18 percent of city jobs and 12 percent of those in the suburbs.

Few cities in the country can match Philadelphia's historic attractions, and the city plays host to millions of tourists each year. Thus, tourism remains an important segment of the local economy.

The Greater Philadelphia region has become one of the major corporate centers in the United States. Many companies are locating or expanding facilities in the area. They are attracted by the area's location at the center of the country's largest market, the access to transportation, the availability of medical, engineering, and business schools to supply technical talent, and the open land for industrial park development. Center City is still the financial, governmental, and cultural hub of the region. Concerted efforts over the last several years by government, business leaders, and concerned citizens to improve Philadelphia's reputation as a corporate host have borne fruit, and the city is continuing to be discovered as an attractive place to live and work.

Items and goods produced: chemicals, pharmaceuticals, office and computing equipment, telecomunications from fiber optics to celluar technology, instruments, biomedical products, fabricated metal products, paper products, processed foods, clothing, petrochemicals, machinery

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Businesses

Both Philadelphia and Pennsylvania sponsor programs to encourage business retention and growth.

Local programs

The city's three empowerment zones provide additional tax incentives and financing to transform these areas into thriving neighborhoods for businesses and workers. Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation enables the city to provide low-cost financing for acquisition, construction, and equipment. The city is eligible to receive state grants for site preparation and infrastructure for industrial development. Other programs provide individual businesses with low interest loans.

State programs

Funding programs offered by the state include bond financing, grants, loans and loan guarantees, tax credits and abatements, and technical assistance. The Key-stone Opportunity Zone has designated some 500 acres in a dozen zones throughout the Philadelphia area as exempt from state and local business taxes; these areas will remain virtually tax-exempt until 2013. Four state Enterprise Zones in Philadelphia are eligible for numerous incentives, including state tax credits, security rebates, low-interest loans, and technical assistance. The state's Job Creation Tax Credits program provides $1,000-per-job tax credit to approved businesses that agree to create jobs within three years.

Job training programs

The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) assists in the development of the workforce by partnering with the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation (PWDC), the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center, and the Collegiate Consortium to provide job training, program funding, and technical assistance. The PIDC offers a broad spectrum of qualified workers, and can customize programs such as on-the-job training, for which the employer receives some reimbursement; targeted programming for specific populations; customized training for specific job skills; recruitment, and referral and assessment aid. The PWDC Transitional Workforce Division provides training, support, education, employment, and other services to some of the region's most needy job seekers.

Development Projects

Since the completion of new international and commuter terminals, along with enhanced airport roadways at Philadelphia International Airport, other improvements included the consolidation of Terminals B and C, which resulted in a new food, beverage, and retail gallery.

The University of the Arts, on the heels of a new academic building with a recital hall, classrooms, a studio theater, dance studios, and lecture halls, has $379 million worth of new and planned investments proposed for the Avenue of the Arts District. A nearly $200 million family-oriented entertainment complex at Penn's Landing, to serve as the locus of a revitalized waterfront, opened in mid-2001. The $255 million Regional Performing Arts Center, a 5,000-seat venue on the Avenue of the Arts, opened in 2002. A $65 million master site plan for Independence National Historic Park was completed in late 2002.

In 2004 the School District of Philadelphia, in cooperation with the Microsoft Corporation, broke ground on the School of the Future, ushering in a new era of technology and education. The school, which is the first of its kind designed to be a model for improved instructional development through the use of technology, is expected to open in 2006 and cost an estimated $50 million. After receiving a $30 million commitment from the City of Philadelphia, the Free Library is preparing to renovate its Beaux Arts building and add 160,000 square feet of additional space. Final plans for the project were expected to be in place by December 2005. The city's Neighborhood Transformation Initiate has gained national attention as one of the most comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategies ever attempted. The plan has created a framework for making neighborhoods cleaner and safer. A $100 million neighborhood revitalization project in the Cecil B. Moore Avenue area of North Philadelphia resulted in the completion of nearly 300 new homes. Plans are currently underway for a new mixed-use community along the Delaware River. The mayor's new Livable Neighborhoods Program focuses on improving Philadelphia's older neighborhoods.

The New River City initiative involves stimulating private investment along the city's waterfront. During 2004, the mayor and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation announced a master plan that includes the potential for $2 billion of private investment and the creation of 25,000 new jobs. The lower Schuylkill River will be home to a newly constructed River Park and Trail as well as a host of new residential projects and a 700,000-square-foot office tower. Also underway are redevelopment plans for the Civic Center and main Post Office. Improvements are also planned for the North and Central Delaware riverfront zones.

The Pennsylvania Convention Center will soon undergo major new construction that will double the existing facility. When the project is completed, the Center will have 541,000 square feet available, two ballrooms totaling 93,000 square feet, 87 meeting rooms, and a fully equipped main kitchen.

Economic Development Information: Philadelphia City Planning Commission, One Parkway Bldg., 1515 Arch Street, 13th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102; telephone (215)683-4615; fax (215)683-4630; email [email protected]. Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, 2600 Centre Square West, 1500 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19101; telephone (215)496-8020

Commercial Shipping

Philadelphia's port, together with the ports in southern New Jersey and Delaware, form the Ports of Philadelphia. The Ports of Philadelphia, the largest freshwater shipping complex in the world, handle the largest volume of international tonnage on the East Coast. Major imports include crude oil, fruits, iron, steel, and paper. Exports include scrap metal and petroleum products. Most of the terminals in the city are owned by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. With an infusion of state funds for capital improvements and the development of a new intermodal yard to serve three railroadsthe Chessie, CSX, and the Canadian Pacificthe Philadelphia terminals are poised for growth. Philadelphia's Port, Penn's landing, is the largest freshwater port in the United States.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

In the past, Philadelphia's economy was dominated by manufacturing, providing half of the city's jobs. But as manufacturing decreases, now accounting for just 5 percent of the city's employment, education and health have emerged as principal drivers of the local economy, accounting for 12 percent and 18 percent of the city's jobs, respectively. In addition, Philadelphia promotes itself as a center for biomedical and pharmaceutical companies. Few cities have the historical past of Philadelphia, and it remains a mecca for tourists.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Philadelphia city/county area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 655,800

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 11,200

manufacturing: 32,100

trade, transportation, and utilities: 90,400

information: 13,500

financial activities: 48,300

professional and business services: 84,100

educational and health services: 182,700

leisure and hospitality: 53,400

other services: 28,000

government: 112,200

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $15.73

Unemployment rate: 4.5% (April 2005)

Largest employersNumber of employees
Federal Government52,000
City of Philadelphia30,000
Philadelphia School District26,000
University of Philadelphia (incl. hospital)22,605
Jefferson Health System14,317
Temple University12,000
Merck and Company10,000

Cost of Living

Housing prices in Philadelphia tend to be lower than those in comparably sized cities, and are among the lowest in the Northeast, with a median home price of just $59,700 in 2002. The housing stock dates from the 18th and 19th centuries and the city encourages preservation of the existing stock with federal, state, and private aid. The tax burden overall is high relative to other large cities nationwide.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Philadelphia area.

2004 ACCRA Average House Price: Not reported

2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported

State income tax rate: 3.07%

State sales tax rate: 6.0%

Local income tax rate: 2.8%

Local sales tax rate: 1.0%

Property tax rate: 8.26% on every $100 assessed

Economic Information: Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Business 200 S. Broad St., Suite 700, Philadelphia, PA 19107; telephone (215)545-1234

Philadelphia: Recreation

views updated May 23 2018

Philadelphia: Recreation


Philadelphia ranks third in the nation among cities with the greatest number of historic sites. Notable among them are Independence National Historical Park, dubbed "the most historic square mile in America," where the many landmarks either remain intact as they existed 200 years ago or have been restored. Independence Hallwhere the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were writtenis among the park's 26 interesting sites, which also include the Liberty Bell Pavilion, the Second Bank of the United States, and City Tavern, a reconstruction of the Revolutionary-era inn that operates today, serving visitors fare commonly prepared 200 years ago.

Historic homes throughout the city are open to the publicincluding Franklin Court and the Betsy Ross Houseand many architectural styles are represented. Several historic churches also remain in Philadelphia. Other points of interest are the United States Mint and Penn's Landing, where harbor tours are available. The city is known, too, for its fine parks, including Fairmount Park, reportedly the largest landscaped urban park in the world and site of the nation's first zoo. The Park contains more than 200 pieces of sculpture. Philadelphia and its environs can be toured by bus or trolley.

Arts and Culture

Philadelphia's efforts to strengthen its downtown artistic attractions are centered on a 3.5-mile-long stretch along Broad Street dubbed the Avenue of the Arts. The Academy of Music, opened in 1857, is located there in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which includes Verizon Hall, Perelman Theater, Innovation Studio, and the Merck Arts Education Center. The Kimmel Center is also home to the world-class Philadelphia Orchestra, Philly Pops, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ballet, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, American Theater Arts for Youth, and several others.

The Arden Theater is a professional regional theater, offering theatrical and educational programs and productions. Other leading Philadelphia theater groups include the Philadelphia Theatre Company, the Venture Theatre, Freedom Theatre, Hedgerow Theatre, Society Hill Playhouse, and the Media Theater for Performing Arts. Broadway and off-Broadway productions are presented at Forrest Theater and at the Merriam Theater at the University of the Arts. The Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania presents the annual Dance Celebration, children's shows, and other performances in its three theaters. Several other university-affiliated theaters stage productions as well.

The Pennsylvania's Ballet's annual performance of The Nutcracker has become a holiday tradition. Dance performances are also presented at the Annenberg Center and by other leading troupes such as Philadanco and the Leon Evans Dance Theatre.

Considered one of the world's great art museums, the Philadelphia Museum of Art houses more than 500,000 works dating from the Western Middle Ages onward; Asian art is also represented. The Museum also runs the Rodin Museum, said to possess the largest collection of that artist's sculptures outside of Paris, and historic houses in Fairmount Park (seven of these are open to the public at Christmas, decorated as they might have been when built). The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, one of the oldest art museums and schools in the country and deemed an architectural masterpiece, displays more than seven thousand works of American art dating from 1750. The Barnes Foundation Gallery features more than 1,000 rarely seen works by the Impressionists and other nineteenth-century painters. The Academy of Natural Sciences Museum, the nation's oldest institution of its kind, features such exhibits as "Butterflies" and "Raptors: Hunter of the Sky". A national memorial to Benjamin Franklin, the Franklin Institute Science Museum and Planetarium features fascinating exhibits that move and can be moved, and it houses many of Franklin's personal effects. Philadelphia's newer museums include the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum, the Mummers Museum, and the Port of History Museum at Penn's Landing; the latter features changing local and international exhibits of arts and crafts and photography. The Perelman Antique Toy Museum and the Please Touch Museum specialize in childrens' interests. In addition, many small museums are housed in restored buildings throughout the city.

Arts and Culture Information: Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, 1616 Walnut, Suite 600, Philadelphia, PA 19103-5306, telephone (215)557-7811

Festivals and Holidays

Philadelphia welcomes the new year with its famous New Year's Day parade, featuring 30,000 Mummers (costumed and/or masked musicians and actors). February features the Philadelphia's Pepsi String Band Show of Shows, an indoor musical extravaganza, which leads to March's Philadelphia Flower Show (considered the top such event in the country), the St. Patrick's Day Parade, and the Book and Cook Festival, which teams famous cookbook authors with local chefs to create culinary wonders. The arrival of spring is heralded in Philadelphia by Valborgsmassoafton (Spring Festival), a Swedish tradition. During its annual Sunoco Welcome America! Philadelphia celebrates the Fourth of JulyIndependence Daywith gusto: four nights of music, fireworks, a food festival, and a parade culminate in the Mummers' performance of a special summer "strut" at Independence Hall. The Philadelphia Festival in August, one of the country's oldest outdoor musical events, has become an end-of-summer ritual for "folkies" from around the country. The Craft Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in November, sponsored by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has had a great influence on the current American crafts revival. Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day Parade in November is the oldest of its kind in the country.

The city in addition hosts the PECO Energy Jazz Festival, Jam on the River, Army-Navy Football Game, and many other ethnically-related festivals, music festivals, and art fairs.

Sports for the Spectator

With more than 200 years of athletic competition history, Philadelphia is considered a premier sports city. Along with a busy annual sports calendar, first-class facilities, 10 professional teams, and more than 60 intercollegiate athletic programs, the city has also hosted many premiere sporting events such as the 2002 NBA All-Star Game. The nation's fourth largest media market, Philadelphia boasts extensive athletic facilities, including the Liacouras Center at Temple University and Wachovia Complex, where the National Hockey League Flyers host games during the season. Two new state-of-the-art facilities contribute to Philadelphia's reputation as a top sports location: the National Football League Eagles' new home, Lincoln Financial Field, opened in August 2003, while the Major League Baseball Phillies' new ballpark, Citizens Bank Park, opened in April 2004.

Suburban to Philadelphia are a number of racetracks offering thoroughbred racing from summer through winter and trotter racing in the summer only. The Wings indoor lacrosse team add variety to the city's sports offerings.

Collegiate athletic events of all kinds are regularly scheduled at the many colleges and universities in the area.

Sports for the Participant

While Philadelphia's park system includes hundreds of parks and playgrounds, Fairmount Park is the center of the city's recreational activities. Located throughout its 9,204 landscaped acres are 215 miles of trails; baseball diamonds and tennis courts; football, soccer, cricket, field hockey, and rugby fields; golf courses; a rowing course and a stocked trout stream; and a variety of other recreational opportunities. The RiverRink at Penn's Landing offers public skating days and evenings from November through February.

The city maintains six municipal golf courses. Indoor tennis is available at the University of Pennsylvania's Robert P. Levy Tennis Pavilion.

Shopping and Dining

Philadelphia is a city of shops rather than huge merchandising outlets. From major department stores, such as Strawbridge's, to complexes such as The Shops at Liberty Place, to the boutiques and specialty shops of Rittenhouse Row, the city is brimming with fine shopping. A downtown area renaissance has attracted many new stores and shopping areas. Casual South Street offers a colorful variety of galleries, avant garde fashions, antique shops, and bookstores. Society Hill, a restored colonial neighborhood, is home to a waterfront shopping complex. The Bourse, across from Independence Hall, houses a collection of specialty shops and restaurants in a restored Victorian stock exchange. A few blocks away is Pine Street's Antique Row. The Gallery at Market East contains more than 230 shops and restaurants. Jewelers' Row is one of the world's largest and oldest diamond centers. The stretches north, south, and west of downtown contain several shopping centers, including the Shops of Chestnut Hill in the historic Germantown neighborhood, and the lively Italian Market.

Philadelphia has been called one of the best restaurant cities in the country, and its Le Bec Fen is a local favorite. New restaurants are proliferating in Philadelphia, and national and international cuisines are well represented in the city's restaurants, where dining styles range from casual to elegant. Seafood is a local favorite, as are Philadelphia cheese-steaks and soft pretzels with mustard. Early in colonial history, Pennsylvania Dutch scrapplean aromatic mixture of cornmeal and pork scraps formed into a loafbecame essential to the proper Philadelphian's breakfast menu, and this specialty can still be found on regional bills of fare, as can Philadelphia Pepper Pot, a peppery tripe soup. At the Reading Terminal Market, formerly a hub for trains and food distributors, 80 merchants cater to the lunchtime crowd, offering unusual multiethnic fare ranging from Mexican mole to Mennonite-made shoo-fly pies.

Visitor Information: Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1700 Market Street, Suite 3000, Philadelphia, PA 19103; telephone (215)636-3300


views updated May 29 2018


USA, 1993

Director: Jonathan Demme

Production: TriStar Pictures; colour, 35mm; sound; running time: 120 minutes. Filmed in Philadelphia, 1993.

Producer: Edward Saxon, Jonathan Demme; screenplay: Ron Nyswaner; photography: Tak Fujimoto; editor: Craig McKay; assistant director: Ron Bozman, Drew Ann Rosenberg; production design: Kristi Zea; art director: Tim Galvin; music: Howard Shore; sound editor: Ron Bochar; sound recording: Chris Newman, Steve Scanlon.

Cast: Tom Hanks (Andrew Beckett); Denzel Washington (Joe Miller); Jason Robards (Charles Wheeler); Mary Steenburgen (Belinda Conine); Antonio Banderas (Miguel Alvarez); Ron Vawter (Bob Seidman); Robert Ridgley (Walter Kenton); Charles Napier (Judge Garnett); Lisa Summerour (Lisa Miller); Joanne Woodward (Sarah Backett); Roberta Maxwell (Judge Tate); Roger Corman (Mr. Laird).

Awards: Oscar for Best Actor (Hanks), 1993.



Kael, Pauline, Pauline Kael on Jonathan Demme: A Selection of Reviews Accompanying the Retrospective Jonathan Demme, an American Director, Minneapolis, 1988.

Bliss, Michael, and Christiana Banks, What Goes Around Comes Around: The Films of Jonathan Demme, Carbondale, 1996.

Falaschi, Francesco, Jonathan Demme, Milan, 1997.


McCarthy, T., Variety (New York), 20 December 1993.

Bruzzi, S., Sight and Sound (London), March 1994.

Taubin, A., "The Odd Couple," in Sight and Sound (London), March 1994.

Mueller, Matt, "The Philadelphia Story," in Empire (London), March 1994.

Derrett, A., in Film Score Monthly (Los Angeles), no. 44, April 1994.

Grundman, R., and P. Sacks, Cineaste (New York), No. 3, 1994.

Pearson, H., Films in Review (New York), No. 3/4, 1994.

Harty, K.J., "The Failures of Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia" in Four Quarters (Philadelphia), Spring 1994.

Stanbrook, Alan, Sunday Telegraph, 9 October 1994.

Mechar, K.W., "'Every Problem Has a Solution': AIDS and the Cultural Recuperation of the American Nuclear Family in Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia," in Spectator (Los Angeles), vol. 15, no. 1, 1994.

Cante, R., "A Report from Philadelphia and Somewhere Else," in Spectator (Los Angeles), vol. 15, no. 2, 1995.

Weis, E., "Sync Tanks," in Cineaste (New York), vol. 21, no. 1/2 1995.

Sandler, A., "Philadelphia Suit Near Accord," in Variety (New York), 12/18 February 1996.

Evans, G., "Philadelphia Story Raises Muddy Issues in Filmmaking," in Variety (New York), vol. 362, 18/24 March 1996.

Evans, G., and A. Sandler, "TriStar Settles Philadelphia Suit," in Variety (New York), vol. 362, 25/31 March 1996.

Van Fuqua, Joy, "'Can You Feel It, Joe?': Male Melodrama and the Family Man," in Velvet Light Trap (Austin), no. 38, Fall 1996.

Kenny, Glenn, "Jonathan Demme," in Premiere (Boulder), vol. 12, no. 3, November 1998.

* * *

Knowing old heads around Hollywood shook with dismay when Jonathan Demme revealed his plan to follow up the surprisingly successful The Silence of the Lambs with another of the risky ventures he was noted for, a major production featuring homosexuality and AIDS. Films about homosexuality (since a revision in the Production Code in 1969 made the word even mentionable in films), from the camp The Gay Deceivers (1969) to the James Ivory/Ismail Merchant adaptation of E.M. Forster's long suppressed novel Maurice (1986), had never done well at the box office. Films dealing with AIDS, such as Longtime Companion, had played to small audiences on the small art theatre circuit. It can be argued that the cinema is developing a new, more mature audience as Philadelphia was a financial and critical success in a year that saw Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List and Ivory/Merchant's Remains of the Day. Nor did Philadelphia stir up as much controversy as nervous exhibitors had feared from protesting religious fundamentalists and other reactionary lobbies. Probably these pressure groups had given up any hope for an industry that wallowed in decadence and indecency. Surprisingly most objections to the film came from the expanding gay press that thought Demme should have taken a more militant line demanding action to conquer AIDS, the modern plague. Tom Hanks, who won the 1993 Academy Award for best actor for his extraordinarily demanding performance as AIDS victim Andrew Beckett, acknowledged this protest and explained to interviewer David Thomson:

I think it's all very legitimate criticism . . . I'm not surprised at all that . . . anybody who is part of that aspect of the gay community that is, what? Counter-culture or whatever. What they wanted was something that was going to represent their lives. Philadelphia didn't do that. . . . But past that, you have to say, yes, that's true, but look what the movie is for what it is, not what it is not.

The storyline is for the most part straightforward. The mise-enscène is, with one startling exception, as naturalistic as possible, especially in colour. An outstandingly promising and personable young lawyer is entrusted with a top assignment by the most prominent and respected law firm in the city. (Viewers may wonder why Philadelphia, not particularly prominent in the AIDS crisis, was chosen as the setting. The city has a traditional reputation in the United States for producing the sharpest lawyers, trained, like Beckett, at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.) The firm claims that he has been dismissed for inefficiency and failure to live up to his promise; but he claims that he was fired when they discovered he had AIDS, and he sues on the grounds that it is against the law to fire an individual for a disability that does not prevent the fulfillment of his or her duties. No other lawyer, however, is willing to oppose the powerful firm until Beckett breaks through the prejudices of a former adversary, struggling black lawyer Joe Miller, who wins the case. Justice is done in legalistic terms, but everyone loses. Beckett dies shortly after the jury decides in his favour; the old law firm loses a good deal of money and some of its long-cherished reputation; the Beckett family loses a brilliant son; and the future of Joe Miller and of Beckett's Hispanic-American lover do not appear promising despite their immediate financial rewards.

The film is not about AIDS as a social and political problem. It uses the enormous present concern over the epidemic as a means to an end in broaching a far larger, timeless problem. The issue that concerns the filmmakers is based upon a distinction that has been crucially central to the American protest movements—whether this is a nation based upon people or upon law, as Andrew Beckett makes clear when he justifies his suit by explaining, "I love the law, to see justice done."

The film is a very rare example of the oldest form of drama in the European tradition, classical tragedy in a medium that has been almost entirely exploited by melodrama. So far the most substantial and challenging reservations about the film have been directed at the sudden change three-quarters of the way through, from the neutral naturalism of the visual image to an unprecedented surrealistic sequence during an interview between Beckett and Joe Miller, his attorney. Miller has been trying to keep his client's mind on the testimony that he will give the next day; but Beckett becomes evasive and puts on a recording of Maria Callas singing the aria "La Momma Morta" from Umberto Giordano's opera André Chénier. The screen is suffused with a demonic red glow as a smouldering fireplace blazes forth, symbolizing the passionate fire burning in Beckett.

The producers tried to cut this episode, and many reviewers have found it irrelevant and fatuous; but Demme and Hanks fought to retain it, even though its significance has been generally misunderstood. Typical of the bewildered reaction is Alan Stanbrook's comment in The Sunday Telegraph that "many will wince at the embarrassing scene where Hanks tries to explain what opera means to gays." As Hanks stressed in this interview, the film does not attempt to represent some collective psyche of the gay community. The episode is a strictly personal statement, as he moves from routine questions about the litigation into the vision that explains his sometimes inscrutable behaviour, when Beckett speaks for himself as an "adventurous spirit," declaiming histrionically over the soaring music: "I am divine. I am oblivious. I am the god come down from the heavens to earth to make of earth a heaven."

This reference to divinity establishes the link between classic tragedy and the film. Whether intentionally or not, scriptwriter Roy Nyswaner echoes the myth of Philocetes, a great bowman, who is banished during the Trojan War by his fellow Greeks to a deserted island when a snakebite gives him a noxious and incurable wound; but they must bring him back as a seer decrees that Troy can only be taken with his bow and arrows. Philocetes comes to a happier end than Andrew Beckett, but their relationship is highlighted by one of the key lines in the film as the jury playing the role of the classic chorus decides that when the firm gave Beckett the big assignment, they were sending in not a disappointing employee, but their "top gun."

Even more pervasive as a subtext throughout the film is the myth of Icarus, the son of the ingenious Daedulus, who made the men wax wings with which to fly out of the labyrinth where they were imprisoned. Icarus flew too close to the sun and the wax melted, so that he fell to his death in the sea. Andrew Beckett is another "adventurous spirit" who has flown too high and taken too many risks. In the surrealist opera episode, viewers are presented a glimpse beneath the quotidian reality of the legal proceedings into the inner vision of Andrew Beckett, who is motivated by a principle that David Thomson finds at work in some of Hank's other films, that "Fantasy soars above any hope of duty or intelligence." Beckett is brilliant, seeking to end injustice and make a heaven on earth; but he is also oblivious to dangerous risks in his pursuit of the ideal. This complex and still puzzling film shows the possibilities rarely realized so far of using the cinema to update classic myths as they have been used in the past in literature to probe our present condition.

—Warren French

Philadelphia: History

views updated May 18 2018

Philadelphia: History

Quakers Receive Pennsylvania Grant

At the time the first settlers of European descent arrived in the area now known as Philadelphia, it was inhabited chiefly by Native Americans who called themselves Lenni-Lenape; settlers called them Delawares. Intertribal warfare had weakened the native tribes, and the advance of colonial settlement pushed them farther west, causing great hostility.

The Netherlands laid claim to the area in 1609 when Henry Hudson, an Englishman in the Dutch service, sailed into Delaware Bay, and around 1647 the Dutch began to build trading posts. The Dutch were ousted by the English in 1664.

In 1681 England's King Charles granted William Penn the territory now known as Pennsylvania in exchange for a debt owed Penn's father. Penn, wealthy and well educated, had committed himself to the Society of Friends, also called Quakers, who practiced a form of religion generally regarded by society with suspicion because of its tenets and its insistence upon simplicity in speech and dress. Penn himself had been imprisoned four times for voicing his beliefs, and King Charles was only too happy to be rid of him and his followers.

Although he had been granted all the land in Pennsylvania, Penn chose to buy the claims of any native people still living there, which set a new standard in colonial settlers' relations with Native Americans. Penn dispatched his cousin to lay out a city, which he called Philadelphia, from the Greek for "brotherly love," and which Penn envisioned as a haven for his fellow Quakers to enjoy freedom of worship and the chance to govern themselves. He charged his cousin with laying out a "greene Country Towne, which will never be burnt, and always be wholesome." The city was laid out in a grid, with large lots, wide streets, and a provision for five city parks, four of which still survive. Historians note that Philadelphia was one of the first cities in the New World built according to a plan.

The Quakers were not only humanitarians but shrewd businesspeople as well. They offered large tracts of land at reasonable prices and advertised throughout Europe for settlers. Attracted by the liberality and tolerance of the Quaker government, and looking for better economic opportunities, thousands of immigrant families soon began arriving, including a group of German Quakers who established the first German settlement in America.

Prosperity and Culture Distinguish City

From the beginning Philadelphia was a leading agricultural area, and because of its location at the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, shipyards flourished. Farm products were exchanged for sugar and rum in the West Indies, and these in turn were exchanged for English manufactured goods. Abundant natural resources, including coal and iron, helped Philadelphia become an early industrial leader. Other significant early industries included home manufacture of textiles, printing, publishing, and papermaking. By the 1770s Philadelphia was one of the most important business centers in the British Empire.

This prosperity and William Penn's principles attracted the best minds of the day to Philadelphia. Among the city's illustrious early residents was the young Benjamin Franklin, scientist and intellectual. His many accomplishments include the publication of the Pennsylvania Gazette, one of the best of the colonial newspapers; he also established the colonies' first hospital, first free library, and first learned society, the American Philosophical Society. Perceiving the need for higher education, Franklin was instrumental in the founding of the institution that later became the University of Pennsylvania.

During the late 1700s many fine private and public buildings were constructed in Philadelphia, such as Andrew Hamilton's Independence Hall. Oil painting flourished, and Philadelphia came to be known as an "Athens of America." By 1774 a sophisticated populace was chafing at the restrictions placed on them by the British king. Because of Philadelphia's strategic location near the middle of colonial settlement, and the importance of winning Quaker support, the delegates who formed the First Continental Congress in 1774 chose Philadelphia as the site for their discussions. The Second Continental Congress proclaimed the colonists' Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, and when the Revolutionary War broke out in full force, Philadelphia became the capital of the revolutionary movement. Following the American patriots' victory at Yorktown, the Constitutional Convention delegates met in Philadelphia, and in 1787 they framed the document that was to become the basis of America's governmental structure. Philadelphia then served as the capital of the United States from 1790 to 1800.

In the early 1800s Philadelphia began an ambitious program of building canals and railroads and developing coal fields, thus laying the foundation of its industrial power. Philadelphia's railroad lines, which by 1834 comprised a quarter of the nation's total, expedited the development of industry.

New Residents Meet Modern Challenges

When the issue of slavery became acute, many African American leaders centered their activities in Philadelphia, and the city became the focal point of one of the most important African American communities in the nation. Philadelphia's industrial strength contributed to the Union's military and economic advantage over the South during the Civil War of 1861 to 1865.

Pennsylvania had been one of the first colonies to admit Catholics and Jews. The increasing demand for factory workers in the late 1800s and early 1900s attracted hundreds of thousands of immigrants of Irish, German, Italian, and Polish descent, who created many distinctive ethnic neighborhoods throughout the city. At the same time, the development of the railroad made commuting easier, and the city's elite began moving to the suburbs thatas they grew up along the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroadbecame known as the "Main Line." By the 1930s the modern city had emerged, with outlying residential districts segregated by income, race, and ethnic origin.

Philadelphia's industrial progress brought with it the exacerbation of differences in wealth. After the Great Depression of the 1930s Philadelphia became a union town, and labor strikes were common. Political machines that had emerged after the Civil War became sophisticated in the ways of manipulating the political processes, particularly through the new immigrant groups. Discrimination in housing resulted in overcrowded African American districts. During the 1960s Philadelphia was shaken by race riots born of decades of inadequate housing and discriminatory practices.

A reform movement, begun in 1939, prompted Philadelphia in 1951 to adopt a new city charter and elect Mayor Joseph Clark, who began a vast urban renewal program. Slated for completion in the early 21st century, this program called for the improvement of highways and the transportation system, housing projects, and the building of more libraries, parks, and shopping and recreation centers. However, a recession and mounting social problems saw Philadelphia teetering on the edge of bankruptcy by the early 1990s.

Economic Woes Reversed

A former prosecutor, Edward G. Rendell, was sworn in as the mayor in 1992, promising "dramatic change from top to bottom." On his watch Rendell was credited with bringing labor costs into line, rallying Philadelphia's business community, bringing back strong bond ratings, and securing the 2000 Republican National Convention, as well as spurring a resurgence in development in the city, from a new $500 million convention center, to the $330 million Avenue of the Arts.

In 2000, John Street became mayor of Philadelphia. The former Philadelphia city council president had worked with Rendell and helped save the city of Philadelphia from bankruptcy, turning a $250 million deficit into the largest surplus in Philadelphia history in 1998. A lawyer and one-time activist, Street is the city's second African American mayor. Now entering his second term, Street continues to serve as a role model for his teenage son and all the city's young people of color.

Historical Information: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107; telephone (215)732-6200; fax (215)732-2680; email [email protected]


views updated May 23 2018


PHILADELPHIA. Founded in 1682, Philadelphia has throughout its long history been notable for its religious and ethnic diversity, importance as a center of trade

and commerce, and role in perpetuating learning and the arts. Although many have quipped that its moniker as the City of Brotherly Love is something of a misnomer—Philadelphia sports fans once famously booed Santa Claus at halftime of a professional football game—its significance in American history is undeniable.

During the colonial period, Philadelphia embodied its founder William Penn's ethos of religious pluralism and tolerance. By the mid-eighteenth century, Philadelphia was home to more religious denominations than any other American city, featuring vibrant Quaker, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, and Moravian congregations, among others. Philadelphia was also early America's most cosmopolitan city, with significant numbers of Swede, German, and Scottish settlers in addition to its English majority. Colonial Philadelphia was home to several notable intellectual institutions, including the Library Company (the oldest lending library in America), the American Philosophical Society (the oldest scientific association in America), and the College of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania), the only nondenominational college in colonial America. In 1776, Philadelphia was the largest city in colonial British America with 28,400 residents. Its pivotal role in the Revolutionary and early national eras testifies to its status as early America's first city; it served as the site for the Continental Congress from 1774 through 1783, for the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and as the new nation's capital from 1790 to 1800. Perhaps the two most important founding documents in American history, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, were written in the City of Brotherly Love. It continued as an important intellectual and cultural center through the early nineteenth century; the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts, founded in 1805, was the new nation's first art school.

The early nineteenth century saw New York eclipse Philadelphia as the United States' largest and most significant commercial city. Despite Philadelphia's financial significance—it was home to both the First and Second Bank of the United States—the rapid settlement of upstate New York and the consequent expansion of New York City's hinterland fueled its growth at Philadelphia's expense. Despite this economic change, Philadelphia continued to be a center of religious and ethnic diversity during the antebellum era. Home to one of the largest free African American populations in the United States, Philadelphia also played a pivotal role in black religious life. Fighting racial discrimination in the city's churches, the minister Richard Allen culminated a long struggle for independence with the organization of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the nation's first black religious denomination. Perhaps because of its religious diversity, Philadelphia was also the site of fierce and often violent conflict. The 1840s and 1850s saw nativist Protestants incite riots against local German and, especially, Irish Catholic immigrants; in 1844, nativists even burned several Catholic churches to the ground. Antebellum Philadelphia continued to be a significant commercial and industrial center, a leader in the textile, shipbuilding, and locomotive industries. The city expanded, and its population reached 565,529 by the eve of the Civil War—the second largest city in the United States. By the time of the city's Centennial Exposition in 1876, Philadelphia was one of the largest cities in both Europe and America, surpassed only by New York, London, and Paris.

Although during the Gilded and Progressive Eras Philadelphia continued to be an important cultural and educational center, the city began to decline economically in the twentieth century. The city's economy, based mainly on light manufacturing, metal products, textiles, food products, and chemical industries, as well as the largest refining operations on the east coast, began to stagnate during this period. Nevertheless, the city maintained a world-class stature in the arts through institutions like the Academy of the Fine Arts (where artists and teachers like Thomas Eakins had helped build an American art movement in the late nineteenth century), The Philadelphia Orchestra (founded in 1900), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (founded in 1928). The city was by then also home to more than a dozen colleges and universities and six medical schools.

Despite a brief upturn around World War II—largely the result of wartime military production and the efforts of reform mayors like Joseph S. Clark Jr. and Richardson

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Dilworth after the war—the city suffered from the same urban decline that afflicted most American industrial cities in the twentieth century. In an effort to attract middle-class and upper-class residents back to Philadelphia, the city made pioneering efforts at urban renewal and revitalized certain neighborhoods, but failed to stem the tide out of the city as a whole. Philadelphia's population began to drop in the postwar period. Following a high of 2,072,000 residents in 1950, the city's population had declined by more than 18 percent by 1980, losing nearly 300,000 residents from 1970 to 1980 alone.

Most of this change was the result of "white flight" to the region's rapidly growing suburbs; the city's minority population reached 40 percent during this period. Racial and political tensions accompanied these economic and demographic changes, epitomized by Frank L. Rizzo. A former police chief who served two terms as mayor in the 1970s, Rizzo was extremely popular among Philadelphia's white ethnic population for his aggressive efforts against crime, while the city's African Americans felt he pandered to white fears through his blatant efforts to link crime and race. In the 1980s, W. Wilson Goode, the city's first African American mayor, won acclaim for handling race relations well but received criticism for alleged administrative incompetence. Under Edward G. Rendell's mayoral administration in the 1990s, the city's fortunes improved somewhat. Following near-bankruptcy in 1991, Rendell was able to put the city on firmer financial footing and largely stem the flow of jobs and residents out of the city to the suburbs. Despite Rendell's success, in 2002 it was still uncertain whether his administration marked a temporary aberration in Philadelphia's history or a true revitalization for one of the United States' oldest, most historically significant, and culturally important cities.


Bissinger, Buzz. A Prayer for the City. New York: RandomHouse, 1997.

Nash, Gary B. First City: Philadelphia and the Forging of Historical Memory. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001.

Warner, SamBass, Jr. The Private City: Philadelphia in Three Periods of Its Growth. 2d ed. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987.

Weigley, Russell F., ed. Philadelphia: A 300-Year History. New York: Norton, 1982.


See alsoPennsylvania .

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