The Legacy of the Industrial City
Like most American cities, Philadelphia combines many contradictory realities. Its public images range from the stodgy WASP fiefdom portrayed in The Philadelphia Story, to political graft and police payoffs, to bombedout neighborhoods, to a gentrified, phoenix-like creature rising from the ashes of its past. None of these images is complete, yet each is a part of the total picture of the city. The contradictions arise partly from a clash between the city's past and its present; although the city was created in response to the political and economic environments of the seventeenth century, it has been recreated repeatedly as those environments have changed. Each re-creation has been incomplete, leaving in place many elements from the past, yet each laid the groundwork on which future changes would have to be based. This book shows how past patterns of work, residence, and public policy created the arena in which the current changing social and economic order makes its own imprint.
A basic premise of the book and of the series of which it is a part is that, to some extent, each city's history needs to be told in its own terms. There is no simple developmental scheme here, no attempt to understand all urban issues as the result of a few universal laws. Although we assume that the local economy operates largely within national and international marketplaces, we understand that the general economic principles at work can produce different patterns in different places. What has happened in Philadelphia is only one of a number of outcomes that could have occurred. For that reason, a substantial part of the task of this book is to understand how Philadelphia's past has interacted with national and international trends to produce particular local patterns.
Yet if our objectives were limited to explaining what has happened in Philadelphia, this book would be of only parochial interest. What makes a study of Philadelphia worthy of broader attention is the extent to which explanations of its development apply to other cities as well. We write of Philadelphia but we believe many of our interpretations can be generalized to other older cities that, like Philadelphia, have deep roots in manufac