Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

City of Homes

Photograph of twin homes in West Philadelphia, 1851.Twin homes in West Philadelphia, 1951. (PhillyHistory.org)

In the late nineteenth century, Philadelphia developed dual personalities.  While industry intensified, making the city a hard-driving, muscular “workshop of the world,” by the 1880s civic boosters also promoted Philadelphia’s more domestic qualities as a “city of homes.”

Philadelphians’ pride in home ownership had deep roots in the founding and growth of the city. But even as the boosters of the nineteenth century celebrated the city’s high proportion of homeowners, aging housing stock and developing slum conditions began to pose challenges. With prosperous residents moving outward as neighborhoods sprouted along new transportation lines, reformers and later government agencies responded to the housing needs of the poor. By the twenty-first century, Philadelphia and the surrounding region retained a housing landscape ranging from eighteenth-century rowhouses to high-rise condominiums.

Topics: Housing

Gallery: Housing

Timeline: Housing

Map: Housing

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