How will they know? How will future generations of Philadelphians have any inkling that their city once thrived as a premier manufacturing center, the fine products issuing from its shops, mills, and plants prized by customers around the nation and the world?
There are few traces left of this history—abandoned factory buildings here and there—and the acres and acres of empty lots that form the landscape of decaying neighborhoods that once brimmed with industrial sites and jobs give no clues. The curious onlooker might ask: What was here? What happened? Delving into the past is to find that the decline of Philadelphia manufacture is directly related to its rise, flip sides in effect of the same coin: of the strengths and weaknesses of a particular kind of industrial system that graced the city, one that rested by and large on the production of quality goods.