History of Philadelphia

The history of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, goes back to 1682, when the city was founded by William Penn.

Before then, the area was inhabited by the Lenape (Delaware) Indians and Swedish settlers who arrived in the area in the early 1600s. Philadelphia quickly grew into an important colonial city and during the American Revolution was the site of the First and Second Continental Congresses. After the Revolution the city was chosen to be the temporary capital of the United States. At the beginning of the 19th century, the federal and state governments left Philadelphia, but the city remained the cultural and financial center of the country. Philadelphia became one of the first U.S. industrial centers and the city contained a variety of industries, the largest being textiles.

After the American Civil War Philadelphia's government was controlled by a corrupt Republican political machine and by the beginning of the 20th Century Philadelphia was described as "corrupt and contented." Various reform efforts slowly changed city government with the most significant in 1950 where a new city charter strengthened the position of mayor and weakened the Philadelphia City Council. At the same time Philadelphia moved its support from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, which has been predominant in local politics for many decades. The city's population began to decline in the 1950s as mostly white and middle class families left for the suburbs. Many of Philadelphia's houses were in poor condition and lacked modernized utilities, and gang and mafia warfare plagued the city. Revitalization and gentrification of certain neighborhoods started bringing people back to the city. Promotions and incentives in the 1990s and the early 21st century have improved the city's image and created a condominium boom in Center City and the surrounding areas that has slowed the population decline.


Before Philadelphia was founded, the area was inhabited by the Lenape (Delaware) Indians. The Dutchman Mey (after whom Cape May, New Jersey is named) explored what is now Delaware Bay in the 1620s, and the Dutch built a fort on the west side of the bay at Swanendael. In 1637, Swedish, Dutch and German stockholders formed the New Sweden Company to trade for furs and tobacco in North America. Under the command of Peter Minuit, the company's first expedition sailed from Sweden late in 1637 in two ships, Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip. Minuit had been the governor of the Dutch colony, New Netherland, centered on Manhattan Island, from 1626 to 1631. The ships reached Delaware Bay in March 1638, and the settlers began to build a fort at the site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware. They named it Fort Christina, in honor of Sweden's twelve-year-old queen. It was the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley. [Swedish Colonial Society Web site] Part of this colony eventually included land on the west side of the Delaware River from just below the Schuylkill River.

The first English settlement was around 1642 when 50 Puritan families from the New Haven Colony in Connecticut led by George Lamberton attempted to establish a theocracy at the mouth of the Schuylkill River. The New Haven Colony had earlier struck a deal with the Native Americans to buy much of New Jersey south of Trenton (although the tribes Lenape were to be accused of selling the same land twice). [ [http://www.colonialwarsct.org/1638_new_haven.htm 1638 - New Haven - The Independent Colony - colonialwarsct.org - Retrieved November 12, 2007] The Dutch and Swedes in the area burned their buildings. A Swedish court under Swedish Governor Johan Björnsson Printz was to convict Lamberton of "trespassing, conspiring with the Indians." [ [http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/LAMBERTON/2004-09/1095663881 Lamberton L Archives - rootsweb.com - Retrieved November 11, 2007] ] The New Haven colony received no support and Puritan Governor John Winthrop testified that the New Haven colony was dissolved owing to summer "sickness and mortality." [ [http://www.usgennet.org/usa/nj/state1/new_sweden.htm - New Sweden - usgennet.org - Retrieved November 12, 2007] ] The disaster was to contribute to New Haven's ultimate loss of its home colony to the Connecticut Colony.

In 1644, New Sweden supported the Susquehannocks in their victory in a war against the English Province of Maryland. A series of events led the Dutch — led by governor Peter Stuyvesant — to move an army to the Delaware River in the late summer of 1655. Though New Netherland now nominally controlled the colony, the Swedish and Finnish settlers continued to enjoy a degree of local autonomy, having their own militia, religion, court, and lands. This status lasted officially until the English conquest of the New Netherland colony, in October 1663-1664, and continued unofficially until the area was included in William Penn's charter for Pennsylvania, in 1682. [cite book |last=Brookes |first=Karin |coauthors=John Gattuso, Lou Harry, Edward Jardim, Donald Kraybill, Susan Lewis, Dave Nelson and Carol Turkington |editor=Zoë Ross |title=Insight Guides: Philadelphia and Surroundings |edition=Second Edition (Updated) |year=2005 |publisher=APA Publications | pages = pages 21 - 22 |id=ISBN 1585730262 ] By 1682 the area of modern Philadelphia was inhabited by about fifty Europeans, mostly subsistence farmers. [cite book | author = Weigley RF et al (eds) | title = Philadelphia: A 300-Year History | publisher = W. W. Norton & Company | year = 1982 | location = New York and London | pages = page 3 | id = ISBN 0-393-01610-2 ]

In 1681, as part of a repayment of a debt, Charles II of England granted William Penn a charter for what would become the Pennsylvania colony. Shortly after receiving the charter, Penn said he would lay out "a large Towne or Citty in the most Convenient place upon the [Delaware River| [Delaware] River] for health & Navigation." ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 4] Penn wanted the city to live peacefully in the area, without a fortress or walls, so he bought the land from the Lenape. The legend is that Penn made a treaty of friendship with Lenape chief Tammany under an elm tree at Shackamaxon, in what is now the city's Kensington section. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 4 - 5] Penn envisioned a city where all people regardless of religion could worship freely and live together. Being a Quaker, Penn had experienced religious persecution. He also planned that the city's streets would be set up in a grid, with the idea that the city would be more like the rural towns of England than its crowded cities. The homes would be spread far apart and surrounded by gardens and orchards. The city would grant the first purchasers, the landowners who first bought land in the colony, land along the river for their homes. The city, which he named Philadelphia ("philos", "love" or "friendship", and "adelphos", "brother"), would have a commercial center for a market, state house, and other key buildings. [cite book |last=Avery|first=Ron | title = A Concise History of Philadelphia | publisher = Otis Books | year = 1999 | location = Philadelphia | pages = page 19 | id = ISBN 0-9658825-1-9 ]

Penn sent three commissioners to supervise the settlement and to set aside 10,000 acres (40 km²) for the city. The commissioners bought land from Swedes at the settlement of Wicaco and from there began to lay out the city towards the north. The area went about a mile along the Delaware River between modern South and Vine Streets. Penn arrived in Philadelphia in October 1682. He felt the area was too cramped and expanded the city west to the bank of the Schuylkill River, making the city a total of 1,200 acres (4.8 km²). Streets were laid out in a gridiron system. Except for the two widest streets, High (now Market) and Broad, the streets were named after prominent landowners who owned adjacent lots. The streets were later renamed in 1684; the ones running east-west were renamed after local trees and the north-south streets were numbered. Within the area, four squares (now named Rittenhouse, Logan, Washington and Franklin) were set up as parks open for everyone. Penn designed a central square at the intersection of Broad and what is now Market Street that would be surrounded by public buildings. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 7]

Some of the first settlers lived in caves dug out of the river bank, but the city grew with construction of homes, churches, and wharves. The new landowners did not share Penn's vision of a non-congested city. Most people bought land along the Delaware River instead of spreading westward towards the Schuylkill. The lots they bought were subdivided and resold with smaller streets constructed between them. Before 1704, few people lived west of Fourth Street. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 14 - 16]

Early growth

Philadelphia grew from a few hundred inhabitants in 1683 to over 2,500 in 1701. The population was mostly English, Welsh, Irish, Germans, Swedes, Finns, Dutch, and African slaves. Before William Penn left Philadelphia for the last time on October 25, 1701 he issued the Charter of 1701. The charter established Philadelphia as a city and gave the mayor, aldermen, and councilmen the authority to issue laws and ordinances and regulate markets and fairs. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 26]

As Philadelphia became established it gradually became an important trading center. Initially the city's main source of trade was with the West Indies. However Queen Anne's War, which lasted between 1702 and 1713, cut off trade and hurt Philadelphia financially. The end of the war brought brief prosperity to all of the British territories, but a depression in the 1720s stunted Philadelphia's growth. The 1720s and '30s saw immigration from mostly Germany and Northern Ireland to Philadelphia and the surrounding countryside. The countryside around Philadelphia was soon turned into farmland and exports of breadstuffs, along with lumber products and flax seeds, to Europe and elsewhere in the American colonies helped bring Philadelphia out of the depression. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 35 - 37]

Philadelphia's pledge of religious tolerance attracted many other religions beside Quakers. Mennonites, Pietists, Anglicans, Catholics, and Jews had moved to the city and soon Quakers were a minority although they were still powerful politically. However, there were still political tensions between and within the religious groups. A series of riots in 1741 and 1742, whose causes ranged between bread prices and drunken sailors, climaxed in October 1742. The "Bloody Election" riots had sailors attack Quakers and pacifist Germans whose peace politics were strained by the War of Jenkins' Ear. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 60] The city was also plagued by pickpockets and other petty criminals. Working in the city government had such a poor reputation that fines were imposed on citizens who refused to serve an office after being chosen. One man fled Philadelphia to avoid serving as mayor. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 62]

In the first half the 18th century, the city was dirty, with garbage and animals littering the streets. The roads were unpaved and in some cases impassable. Early attempts to improve quality of life were ineffective as laws were poorly enforced. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 59] However, by the 1750s, Philadelphia was turning into a major city. Structures such as the Christ Church and the Pennsylvania State House, better known as Independence Hall, were giving the city a skyline. Streets were paved and illuminated with gas lights. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 68 - 69] Philadelphia's first newspaper, Andrew Bradford's "American Weekly Mercury", began publishing on December 22, 1719. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 65]

The city also developed culturally and scientifically. Schools, libraries and theaters were founded. James Logan arrived in Philadelphia in 1701 as a secretary for William Penn. He was the first to help establish Philadelphia as a place of culture and learning."Insight Guides: Philadelphia and Surroundings", page 25] Logan, who was the mayor of Philadelphia in the early 1720s, created one of the largest libraries in the colonies. He also helped guide other prominent Philadelphia residents, which included botanist John Bartram and Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin arrived in Philadelphia in October 1723 and would play a large part in the city's development. To help protect the city from fire, Franklin founded the Union Fire Company. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 61] In the 1750s Franklin was named one of the city's post master generals and he established postal routes between Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and elsewhere. He helped raise money to build the American colonies' first hospital, which opened in 1752. That same year the College of Philadelphia, another project Franklin led, received its charter of incorporation. Threatened by French and Spanish privateers, Franklin and others set up a volunteer group for defense and built two batteries. When the French and Indian War began Franklin was able to allow the creation of militias. During the war, the city became home to many refugees from the west. When Pontiac's Rebellion occurred in 1763, refugees again fled into the city, including a group of Native Americans hiding from other Native Americans angry at their pacifism and violent white frontiersmen. A group called the Paxton Boys attempted to enter Philadelphia and kill the Native Americans, but was prevented by the city's militia and Franklin who convinced them to leave. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 103 - 108]


In the 1760s the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts, combined with other frustrations, were causing anger against England in the colonies, Philadelphia included. Both the Stamp and Townshend Acts led to boycotts of the importation of British goods. After the Tea Act in 1773, there were threats against anyone who would store tea and any ships which brought tea up the Delaware. In December, after the Boston Tea Party, a shipment of tea had arrived on the ship the "Polly". The captain left after a committee told him to leave without dropping off his cargo. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 118]

A series of acts in 1774 further angered the colonies and there was a call for a general congress. The Massachusetts Assembly of June 17, 1774 suggested the general congress meeting be held in Philadelphia. The First Continental Congress was held in September in Carpenters' Hall. The American Revolutionary War began after the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April, 1775 and the Second Continental Congress met the next month at the Pennsylvania State House where they would sign the Declaration of Independence more than a year later. Besides being the location of the Continental Congress, Philadelphia was important to the war effort, as Robert Morris described "You will consider Philadelphia, from its centrical situation, the extent of its commerce, the number of its artificers, manufactures and other circumstances, to be to the United States what the heart is to the human body in circulating the blood." ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 134]

Philadelphia was vulnerable to attack by the British. There were efforts to help protect the city from invasion from Delaware Bay and to recruit more soldiers, but there was no serious defense for the city. In March 1776 two British frigates began a blockade of the mouth of Delaware Bay and the British were moving south through New Jersey. In December the fear that the city was about to be invaded led to half of Philadelphia's population fleeing the city, including the Continental Congress which had fled to Baltimore. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 128 - 129] General George Washington pushed back the British advance at the Battles of Princeton and Trenton and the refugees and Congress returned. In September 1777 the British invaded Philadelphia from the south. General George Washington intercepted them at the Battle of Brandywine but was driven back. Thousands fled north into Pennsylvania and east into New Jersey; Congress fled to Lancaster then to York. British troops marched into the half-empty Philadelphia on September 23 to cheering Loyalists crowds. ["Insight Guides: Philadelphia and Surroundings", page 31]

The occupation lasted ten months; with the French now helping the Americans, the last British troops pulled out of Philadelphia on June 18, 1778 to help defend New York City. The American troops arrived the same day and began reoccupying the city under supervision of Major General Benedict Arnold, who had been appointed the city's military commander. The city government returned a week later and the Continental Congress returned in early July. While no longer under serious threat by the British, Philadelphia was experiencing serious inflation issues, with the poor suffering the worst. This led to unrest in 1779, with people blaming the upper class and Loyalists. One riot in January which had sailors striking for higher wages ended up dismantling ships. The Fort Wilson Riot on October 4 had a group of men target James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence but accused of being a Loyalist sympathizer. Soldiers broke up the riot, but five people had died and seventeen were injured. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 146 - 147]

Temporary capital

Following the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783, the United States Congress had moved out of Philadelphia, eventually settling in New York City. Besides the Constitutional Convention in May 1787, United States politics was no longer centered in Philadelphia. Philadelphians tried to lobby and petition the Congress to move back to Philadelphia or southeastern Pennsylvania. However, a permanent capital was selected to be along the Potomac River and Philadelphia was selected to be the temporary United States capital for ten years starting in 1790. Congress occupied the Philadelphia County Courthouse, which became known as Congress Hall, and the Supreme Court worked at City Hall. Robert Morris donated his home on Market Street to be the residence for President Washington. ["Insight Guides: Philadelphia and Surroundings", page 33]

With the end of the war the city began cleaning up the damage and after 1787 the city's economy experienced accelerated growth. The growth was interrupted by yellow fever outbreaks in the 1790s. Benjamin Rush identified the first outbreak in August 1793. Fear of contracting the disease caused thousands to flee the city and trade virtually stopped as people were fearful of coming to the city or interacting with its inhabitants. The fever abated at the end of October with the onset of colder weather. The death toll is believed to be more than 5,000, about a tenth of the population. Yellow fever continued to resurface over the next few decades with none as bad as the one in 1793. The closest came in 1798 where again thousands fled the city and led to the deaths of an estimated 1,292. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 180 - 187]

Industrial growth

. After the war, Philadelphia's shipping industry never returned to its pre-embargo status and New York City would soon become the United States' busiest port and largest city. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 212 - 214]

The embargo and lack of foreign trade helped establish factories in and around Philadelphia to make goods that were no longer available from foreign markets. Manufacturing plants and foundries were built and Philadelphia became an important center of paper-related industries and the leather, shoe, and boot industries. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 235] Coal and iron mines, and the construction of new roads, canals, and railroads helped Philadelphia's manufacturing power grow and the city became the United States' first major industrial city. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 208] Major industrial projects included the Waterworks, iron water pipes, a gasworks, and the U.S. Naval Yard. Along with its industrial power, Philadelphia was also the financial center of the country. Along with chartered and private banks, the city was the home of the First and Second Banks of the United States, Mechanics National Bank and the first U.S. Mint. ["Insight Guides: Philadelphia and Surroundings", page 35] Cultural institutions such as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Athenaeum and the Franklin Institute also developed. Public education became available after the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Free School Law of 1834. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 340]

Immigrants, mostly from Germany and Ireland, streamed into the city, swelling the population of Philadelphia and its suburbs. ["Insight Guides: Philadelphia and Surroundings", page 37] In Philadelphia, as the rich moved west of 7th Street, the poor moved into the upper class' former homes, now converted into tenements and boarding houses. Many small row houses crowded alleyways and small streets, and these areas were filthy, filled with garbage and the smell of manure from animal pens. During the 1840s and 1850s, hundreds died each year in Philadelphia and the surrounding districts from diseases like malaria, smallpox, tuberculosis, and cholera, with the poor being affected the worst. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 318]

Along with sanitation, violence was a serious problem. Gangs like the Moyamensing Killers and the Blood Tubs controlled various neighborhoods. During the 1840s and early 1850s when volunteer fire companies, some of which were infiltrated by gangs, responded to a fire, fights with other fire companies would usually break out. The lawlessness among fire companies virtually ended in 1853 and 1854 when the city took more control over their operations. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 346 - 348] The 1840s and 50s also saw a lot of violence directed against immigrants. Nativists had a strong presence in the city and often held mostly anti-Catholic, anti-Irish meetings. Violence against immigrants also occurred, the worst being the nativist riots in 1844. Violence against African Americans was also common during the 1830s, 40s, and 50s. Deadly race riots led to African American homes and churches being burned. In 1841, Joseph Sturge commented "...there is probably no city in the known world where dislike, amounting to the hatred of the coloured population, prevails more than in the city of brotherly love!" ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 353] Despite the formation of several anti-slavery societies, and being a major stop on the Underground Railroad, much of Philadelphia was against the abolitionist movement. Abolitionists were also the target of violence which included several of their meetinghouses being burned.Fact|date=April 2008

The lawlessness and the difficulty in controlling it, along with a large population shift just north of Philadelphia, led to the Act of Consolidation in 1854. The act passed on February 2, made Philadelphia's borders coterminous with Philadelphia County, incorporating various districts, boroughs, townships, and any other unincorporated communities within the county. [cite web |url=http://www.ushistory.org/philadelphia/philadelphia.html |title=A Brief History of Philadelphia |accessmonthday=December 14 |accessyear=2006 |work=Philadelphia History |publisher=ushistory.org ]

Once the American Civil War began in 1861, Philadelphia's southern leanings changed and hostility moved from abolitionists to southern sympathizers. Mobs threatened a secessionist newspaper and the homes of suspected sympathizers and were only turned away by the police and Mayor Alexander Henry. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 394] Philadelphia supported the war with soldiers, ammunition, war ships and was a main source of army uniforms. Philadelphia was also a major receiving place of the wounded, with more than 157,000 soldiers and sailors treated within the city. Philadelphia began preparing for invasion in 1863, but the southern army was repelled at Gettysburg. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 396 - 410]

Late 19th century

In the years following the Civil War Philadelphia's population continued to grow. The population grew from 565,529 in 1860 to 674,022 in 1870. By 1876 the city's population stood at 817,000. The dense population areas were not only growing north and south along the Delaware River, but also moving westward across the Schuylkill River. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 420] A large portion of the growth came from immigrants, still mostly German and Irish. In 1870 twenty-seven percent of Philadelphia's population was born outside the United States. By the 1880s immigration from Russia, Eastern Europe, and Italy started rivaling immigration from Western Europe. Much of the immigration from Russia and Eastern Europe were Jews. In 1881 there were around 5,000 Jews in the city and by 1905 there were around 100,000. Philadelphia's Italian population grew from around 300 in 1870 to around 18,000 in 1900, with the majority settling in South Philadelphia. Along with foreign immigration, domestic immigration from African Americans gave Philadelphia the largest African American population of a Northern U.S. city. In 1876 there were around 25,000 African Americans living in Philadelphia and by 1890 the population was near 40,000. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 488 - 491] While immigrants moved into the city Philadelphia's rich emptied out. During the 1880s much of Philadelphia's upper class moved into the growing suburbs along the Pennsylvania Railroad's Main Line west of the city. ["Insight Guides: Philadelphia and Surroundings", page 39]

Politically the city was dominated by one party, the Republican Party, and a political machine. The Republicans dominated the post-war elections and corrupt officials made their way into the government and continued to control the city through voter fraud and intimidation. The Gas Trust was the hub of the city’s political machine. The trust controlled the gas company which supplied gas for lighting to the city. The board came under complete control by Republicans in 1865, and they used their power to award contracts and perks for themselves and their interests. Some government reform did occur during this time. The police department was reorganized and volunteer fire companies were eliminated and were replaced by a paid fire department. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 437 - 439] Education was reformed as well with a compulsory school act passed in 1895 and the Public School Reorganization Act which freed the city's education from the city's political machine. Higher education changed as well. The University of Pennsylvania moved to West Philadelphia and reorganized to its modern form and Temple University, Drexel University and the Free Library were founded. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 498 - 501]

One of the biggest projects of the time was the Centennial Exposition, a World's Fair that celebrated the United States Centennial. The Exposition was held in Fairmount Park and exhibits included Alexander Graham Bell's telephone and the Corliss Steam Engine. The Exposition began on May 10, 1876 and when the fair ended on November 10 over nine million people had visited the fair. [cite book |last=Gross |first=Linda P. |coauthors=Theresa R. Snyder |title=Philadelphia's 1876 Centennial Exhibition |year=2005 |publisher=Arcadia Publishing |id=ISBN 0-7385-3888-4 |pages=pages 7 - 8] Another project was the construction of a new city hall. Construction of Philadelphia City Hall was graft-ridden and it took twenty-three years to complete. The building was completed in 1884 and was the tallest building in Philadelphia until the 1980s. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 506]

Philadelphia's major industries of the era were the Baldwin Locomotive Works, William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Company, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Westward expansion of the Pennsylvania Railroad helped Philadelphia keep up with nearby New York City in domestic commerce as both cities fought for dominance in transporting iron and coal resources from Pennsylvania. Along with the Pennsylvania Railroad, Philadelphia's other local railroad was the Reading Railroad, but after a series of bankruptcies it came under control of New Yorkers. However the Panic of 1873, which occurred when the New York City branch of the Philadelphia bank Jay Cooke and Company failed, and another panic in the 1890s hampered Philadelphia's economic growth. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 429 - 433] While the depressions hurt the city, the depressions’ effect on Philadelphia was less serious than it was in other cities because of the variety of industries that inhabited the city. There were numerous iron and steel-related manufacturers, including Philadelphian-owned iron and steel works outside the city, most notably the Bethlehem Iron Company. The largest industry in Philadelphia was textiles. Philadelphia produced more textiles than any other U.S. city and in 1904 textiles employed more than 35 percent of the city's workers. The cigar, sugar, and oil industries also made an impact on the city. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 480 - 481] During this time the major department stores, Wanamaker's, Gimbels, Strawbridge and Clothier, and Lit Brothers, sprung up along Market Street. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 485 - 486]

Early 20th century

In the beginning of the 20th century Philadelphia had taken on a poor reputation. People both inside and outside of the city commented that Philadelphia and its citizens were dull and contented with its lack of change. "Harper's Magazine" commented that "The one thing unforgivable in Philadelphia is to be new, to be different from what has been." ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 535] Along with the city's "dullness" Philadelphia was known for its corruption. The Republican controlled political machine, run by Israel Durham, permeated all parts of city government. One official estimated that US$5 million was wasted every year from graft in the city's infrastructure programs. The majority of Philadelphians were staunchly Republican, but voter fraud and bribery were still common. Reformers had some success, the first in 1905 when election reforms such as the providing of personal voter registration and the establishment of primaries for all city offices was enacted. However, Philadelphians quickly became complacent and the reforms did not prevent control from the city's political bosses and the city government went back to its characteristic corruption. After 1907 Boss Durham retired and his successor, James McNichol, never controlled much outside North Philadelphia. The Vare brothers, George, Edwin, and William had created their own organization in South Philadelphia and, in the lack of central authority, Senator Boies Penrose took charge. Reformers saw success again in 1910 when infighting between McNichol and the Vares allowed reform candidate Rudolph Blankenburg to be elected mayor. During Blankenburg's time as mayor there were numerous cost-cutting measures and improvements to city services, but Blankenburg only served one term and the machine again gained control. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 537 - 547]

The policies of Woodrow Wilson's administration reunited reformers with the city's Republican Party and World War I temporarily halted the reform movement. In 1917 the murder of George Eppley, a police officer defending City Council primary candidate James Carey, ignited the reformers again and led to the shrinking of the City Council from two houses to just one, and gave council members an annual salary. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 563 - 564] With the death of McNichol in 1917 and Penrose in 1921, William Vare became the city's political boss. In the 1920s the public flaunting of Prohibition laws, mob violence, and police involvement in illegal activities led Mayor W. Freeland Kendrick to appoint Brigadier General Smedley Butler of the U.S. Marine Corps as director of public safety. Butler cracked down on bars and speakeasies and tried to stop corruption within the police force, but political pressure made the job difficult and Butler saw little success. After two years, Butler left in January 1926 and most of his police reforms were repealed. On August 1, 1928 Boss Vare suffered a stroke and two weeks later a grand jury investigation into the city's mob violence and other crimes began. Numerous police officers were dismissed or arrested as a result of the investigation, but the investigation provided no permanent change. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 578 - 581] However 1928 was a turning point for the city's Republican Party when strong support for Presidential Democratic candidate Al Smith among some Philadelphians marked the city's first movement away from the Republican Party in the 20th century. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 586]

During this time Philadelphia continued to grow with immigrants coming from Eastern Europe and Italy and African Americans from the South. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 529 - 531] Foreign immigration was briefly interrupted by World War I when the city's factories, including the new U.S. Naval Yard at Hog Island, constructed ships, trains, and other items needed in the war effort. In September 1918 the influenza pandemic arrived at the Naval Yard and began to spread. Some days saw several hundred people die and by the time the pandemic began to subside in October, over 12,000 people had died. [cite web | last=Armstrong | first=James F. |url=http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/influenza%20phil%201918.htm |title=Philadelphia, Nurses, and the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918 | date=November 7, 2005 |accessmonthday=March 25 |accessyear=2007 |work=Influenza of 1918 (Spanish Flu) and the US Navy |publisher=Naval Historical Center ] The rising popularity of automobiles led to widening of roads and creation of Northeast (Roosevelt) Boulevard in 1914, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 1918, the changing of many existing streets to one-way streets in the early 1920s, and the Delaware River (Benjamin Franklin) Bridge in 1926. Philadelphia began to modernize with the ever more frequent construction of steel and concrete skyscrapers, the wiring of old buildings for electricity and the city's first commercial radio station. [cite journal | quotes=no | first=Todd | last=Bishop | year=2000 | month=January 7 | title=The Media: One revolution after another | journal=Philadelphia Business Journal | url=http://philadelphia.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/stories/2000/01/10/story3.html] Other projects included the city's first subway constructed in 1907, the less than successful Sesqui-Centennial Exposition in South Philadelphia, and the opening of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1928. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 525 - 526] ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 593 - 596]

Depression and World War II

In the three years after the stock market crashed in 1929, fifty Philadelphia banks closed. Of those only two were large, Albert Greenfield's Bankers Trust Company and the Franklin Trust Company. Savings and loan associations also faced trouble with mortgages of 19,000 properties being foreclosed in 1932 alone. By 1934, 1,600 of 3,400 savings and loan associations had shut down. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 607 - 609] Hospitals were reporting definite cases of starvation as early as 1931 and unemployment peaked in 1933 when 11.5 percent of whites, 16.2 percent of African Americans, and 19.1 percent of foreign-born whites were out of work. Mayor J. Hampton Moore blamed people's economic woes, not on the Depression, but on laziness and wastefulness, and claimed there was no starvation in the city. Soon after Moore's observations, he fired 3,500 city workers, instituted pay cuts, forced unpaid vacation and reduced the number of contracts the city awarded. This saved Philadelphia millions of dollars, and the efforts kept the city from defaulting on its debts, but were unpopular among the unemployed. The city relied on state money to fund relief efforts, and when Moore's successor, S. David Wilson, became mayor he instituted numerous programs financed by the New Deal's Works Progress Administration despite condemning the program during his mayoral campaign. At its peak in 1936, 40,000 Philadelphians were working in WPA financed jobs. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 611 - 613]

Encouragement from the state and the creation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations turned Philadelphia into a union city. Dissatisfaction with working conditions caused numerous strikes in the already existing textile unions and the creation of the CIO led to the organization of labor unions in other industries and more strikes. Another significant change during the 1930s was the rise of the Democratic Party in Philadelphia. With the newly organized Independent Democratic Committee, Philadelphia's Democrats organized and expanded. In 1936, the Democratic National Convention was held in Philadelphia and the majority of Philadelphians reelected Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt as President and put Democrats in Congress and the Pennsylvania Assembly. City government remained Republican, but Republicans increasingly were elected by small margins. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 618 - 622]

The beginning of World War II in Europe and the threat of the U.S. becoming involved helped bring Philadelphia out of the Depression as new jobs appeared in defense-related industries. After the U.S. became involved in the war in 1941 the city mobilized. Philadelphia consistently met war bond quotas and when the war ended in 1945 there were 183,850 Philadelphians in the U.S. armed forces. With many Philadelphians in the military there was a labor shortage and businesses turned to women and workers from outside the city. This caused problems in 1944 when African Americans were promoted to motormen and conductors on Philadelphia Transportation Company's public transportation vehicles. Other PTC worker's protested the move and began a strike that nearly immobilized the city. President Roosevelt sent troops to replace the workers. After an ultimatum the workers returned after six days of striking. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 635 - 644]

Reform and decline

After World War II ended Philadelphia was experiencing a serious housing shortage. Around half of the city's housing had been built in the 19th Century, and many lacked proper facilities, were overcrowded, and in poor condition. Adding to the housing problem was white flight as African Americans and Puerto Ricans moved into new neighborhoods resulting in racial tension. After a population peak of over two million residents in 1950 the city's population declined while the suburban neighboring counties grew. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 669 - 670] Philadelphia lost five percent of its population in the 1950s, three percent in the 1960s and more than thirteen percent in the 1970s. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 707] Manufacturing and other major Philadelphia businesses were also leaving or shutting down. Development projects included University City in West Philadelphia, the area around Temple University, the removal of the "Chinese Wall" elevated railway and development of Market Street East, specifically the construction the Gallery at Market East. There was gentrification of certain neighborhoods such as Society Hill, Rittenhouse Square, Queen Village, and the Fairmount area. The airport expanded, the Schuylkill Expressway and the Delaware Expressway (Interstate 95) were built, SEPTA was formed, and there was residential and industrial development of undeveloped land in Northeast Philadelphia. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 695 - 702, 720] Preparations for the United States Bicentennial in 1976 began in 1964. By the early 1970s US$3 million had been spent but no plans were set. The planning group was reorganized and multiple city wide events were planned. Events included the already planned completions of the restoration of Independence National Historical Park and the completion of Penn's Landing. Less than half the expected visitors came to the city for the Bicentennial, but the event inspired future annual neighborhood events and fairs. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 725 - 731]

Richardson Dilworth was selected as the Democratic candidate in the 1947 election, but lost to incumbent mayor Bernard Samuel. However, during the campaign Dilworth made numerous and specific charges about corruption within city government, which led to the City Council to set up a committee to investigate, which was followed by a grand jury investigation. The five year investigation and its findings garnered national attention. US$40 million in city spending was found to be unaccounted for and the president judge of the Court of Common pleas had been tampering with court cases. The fire marshal went to prison and an official in the tax collection office, a water department employee, a plumbing inspector, and head of the police vice squad committed suicide after criminal exposures. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 652] The public and the press demanded reform and by the end of 1950 a new city charter was drafted. The new charter strengthened the position of the mayor and weakened the City Council. The Council would be made of ten councilmen elected by district and seven at large. City administration was streamlined and new boards and commissions were created. After the 1951 election Joseph S. Clark became the first Democratic mayor in eighty years. Clark filled administration positions based on skill and not on political connections and worked to weed out corruption left over from previous administrations. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 654 - 657] Despite reforms and the Clark administration a powerful Democratic organization ended up replacing the old Republican one. ["A Concise History of Philadelphia", pages 75] Clark was succeeded by Richardson Dilworth who mostly continued the policies of his predecessor. Dilworth resigned to run for governor in 1962 and city council president James H. J. Tate became the city's first Irish Catholic mayor. Tate was elected mayor in 1963 and reelected in 1967 despite opposition from reformers who opposed Tate for being an organization insider. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 661]

As elsewhere in the United States the 1960s was a turbulent decade for the city. There were numerous civil rights and anti-war protests including large protests led by Marie Hicks to desegregate Girard College. [cite journal | quotes=no | first=Gayle | last=Ronan Sims | year=2007 | month=April 21 | title=Marie Hicks, 83, the Rosa Parks of Girard College | journal=The Philadelphia Inquirer | url=http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20070421_Marie_Hicks__83__the_Rosa_Parks_of_Girard_College.html | format=dead link|date=June 2008 – [http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=author%3ARonan+Sims+intitle%3AMarie+Hicks%2C+83%2C+the+Rosa+Parks+of+Girard+College&as_publication=The+Philadelphia+Inquirer&as_ylo=2007&as_yhi=2007&btnG=Search Scholar search] ] Students took over the Community College of Philadelphia in a sit-in, race riots broke out in Holmesburg Prison and a 1964 riot along West Columbia Avenue killed two people, injured over 300 and caused around US$3 million in damages. Crime was also a serious problem. Primarily drug related gang warfare plagued the city and in 1970 crime was rated the city's number one problem in a City Planning Commission survey. The court system was overtaxed and the tactics of the police department under Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo were controversial. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", page 675 - 678] However Frank Rizzo was given credit for preventing the level of violence seen in other cities at the time and was elected mayor in 1971. The outspoken Rizzo, who was reelected in 1975, was a divisive figure who had loyal supporters and passionate opponents. Police and fire departments and cultural institutions were well supported under Rizzo, but other city departments like the Free Library, the Department of Welfare and Recreation, the City Planning Commission and the Streets Department experienced large cuts. ["Philadelphia: A 300-Year History", pages 722 - 724] The radical back-to-nature group called MOVE formed in 1972 and tension soon developed with the city. The first major clash occurred in 1978 at the group's Powelton Village headquarters resulted in the death of a police officer and nine MOVE members were sent to prison. The second major clash occurred in 1985 when a stand off occurred at the group's new headquarters in Southwest Philadelphia. The stand off ended when police dropped a satchel bomb from a helicopter on the house. The bomb set off a fire that killed eleven MOVE members, including five children, and destroyed sixty-two neighboring houses."A Concise History of Philadelphia", pages 78 - 79]

Crime continued to be a problem in the 1980s. Deadly mafia warfare plagued South Philadelphia, drug gangs and crack houses invaded the slums of the city, and the murder rate skyrocketed. William J. Green became mayor in 1980 and in 1984 W. Wilson Goode became Philadelphia's first African American mayor. Development continued in areas in Old City and South Street, and large glass and granite skyscrapers were constructed in Center City. City employee labor contracts signed during the Rizzo administration helped set up a city financial crisis that Green and Goode were unable to prevent and left the city near bankruptcy at the end of the 1980s. ["Insight Guides: Philadelphia and Surroundings", page 44 -45]

Into the 21st century

Ed Rendell was elected the city's first Jewish mayor in 1992. When Rendell became mayor the city had numerous unpaid bills, the lowest bond rating of the top fifty largest U.S. cities, and a budget deficit of US$250 million. Rendell was able to attract investment in the city and was soon able to stabilize the city's finances and even produce small budget surpluses. Revitalization of parts of Philadelphia continued in the 1990s. In 1993 a new convention center was opened creating a hotel boom with seventeen hotels opening between 1998 and 2000 and the city began promoting its historic sites, festivals, and entertainment to attract tourists. ["Insight Guides: Philadelphia and Surroundings", page 46] In 2005 "National Geographic Traveler" named Philadelphia America's Next Great City citing its recent revitalization and general cityscape. [cite journal | last=Nelson | first=Andrew | title=Next Great City: Philly, Really | journal=National Geographic Traveler | month=October | year=2005 | url=http://www.nationalgeographic.com/traveler/features/philly0510/philly.html ]

Former city council president John F. Street was elected mayor in 1999 and city revitalization continued into the 21st century. The Street administration targeted some of the city's worst neighborhoods for revitalization and has seen considerable progress.cite journal | last=Scully | first=Sean | title=The 5 Best Big-City Mayors | journal=Time | date=April 17, 2005 | url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1050214-8,00.html ] Tax breaks created in 1997 and 2000 helped create a condominium boom in Center City, increasing the population of Center City and helping slow down the city's forty-year population decline. The population of Center City rose to 88,000 in 2005 from 78,000 in 2000 and the number of household grew by 24 percent. [cite journal | last=Chamberlain | first=Lisa | title=Tax Breaks Drive a Philadelphia Boom | journal=The New York Times | date=January 8, 2006 | url=http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/01/08/realestate/08nati.html ] Corruption still continued into the 21st century. A series of scandals in the 1990s plagued the police department which included the systematic underreporting of crime to give the impression of low crime rates. The Street administration has also been plagued with scandal where people in his administration were accused of awarding contracts based on campaign donations for Street's 2003 reelection campaign. There has also been a rise of violent crime after a decline in the 1990s. In 2006 Philadelphia's murder rate was 27.8 per 100,000 inhabitants versus a rate of 18.9 in 2002. [cite journal | last=Maykuth | first=Andrew | title=Phila. leads big cities in murder rate | journal=The Philadelphia Inquirer | date=June 5, 2007 | url=http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/20070605_Phila__leads_big_cities_in_murder_rate.html | format=dead link|date=June 2008 – [http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=author%3AMaykuth+intitle%3APhila.+leads+big+cities+in+murder+rate&as_publication=The+Philadelphia+Inquirer&as_ylo=&as_yhi=&btnG=Search Scholar search] ]

ee also

*List of mayors of Philadelphia



*Swedish Colonial Society. No date. [http://www.colonialswedes.org/History/History.html A Brief History of New Sweden in America.]


*cite book |last=Avery |first=Ron | title = A Concise History of Philadelphia | publisher = Otis Books | year = 1999 | location = Philadelphia | id = ISBN 0-9658825-1-9
*cite book |last=Brookes |first=Karin |coauthors=John Gattuso, Lou Harry, Edward Jardim, Donald Kraybill, Susan Lewis, Dave Nelson and Carol Turkington |editor=Zoë Ross |title=Insight Guides: Philadelphia and Surroundings |edition=Second Edition (Updated) |year=2005 |publisher=APA Publications |id=ISBN 1585730262
*cite book | author = Weigley RF et al (eds): | title = Philadelphia: A 300-Year History | publisher = W. W. Norton & Company | year = 1982 | location = New York and London | id = ISBN 0-393-01610-2

Further reading

*Myers, Albert Cook. 1912. Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey and Delaware, 1630-1707. Charles Scriber's Sons.

External links

* [http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/ PhillyHistory.org]

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