The Irish in Philadelphia: Ten Generations of Urban Experience

By Dennis Clark | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

Interest in urban history is steadily growing as America becomes overwhelmingly a nation of metropolitan complexes with inner cities surrounded by a seemingly endless series of suburbs. Can diverse people live together successfully in these urban centers? Why are some cities quiet and conservative communities and others unstable and conflict-prone? Is there a relationship among economic growth, corrupt machine politics, and social integration?

The answers to these and other questions can only come from detailed studies of actual city experience. Dennis Clark's careful and incisive account of the Irish migration to Philadelphia and its consequences over the past century and a quarter is an important addition to the small number of such studies.

Superficially, Philadelphia is much like those other major cities on the Atlantic seaboard to which the Irish fled after the potato famine. Yet everyone knows that Philadelphia is considerably different from Boston and New York and that the experience of the Philadelphia Irish took a notably different course. The virtue of this book is that it goes far toward explaining "what everyone knows" about Philadelphia but finds hard to pin down.

Clark begins with basics. He points out, for example, the simple fact of Philadelphia's much greater land area compared with that of Boston and Manhattan. Because land was more available, land prices were considerably lower and the population could become more widely dispersed. In one of his best chapters, Clark analyzes Philadelphia's housing. Cheap, available land made possible the low-density neighborhoods

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The Irish in Philadelphia: Ten Generations of Urban Experience
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • One a Tradition Grows 3
  • Two the Famine Generation 24
  • Three City Shelter 38
  • Four Working to Live 61
  • Five Church and School 88
  • Six Clans and Causes 106
  • Seven Hibernia Philadelphia 126
  • Eight the Tradition Persists 145
  • Nine the Urban Irishman 165
  • Notes 185
  • NOTE ON SOURCES 237
  • Index 243
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