City of Homes


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.

Related Topics: Housing







Related Reading

Ames, Kenneth. “Robert Mills and the Philadelphia Row House.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 27, 2 (May 1968): 140-146.

Bauman, John F. Public Housing, Race, and Renewal: Urban Planning in Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1987.

Conn, Steven. Metropolitan Philadelphia: Living with the Presence of the Past. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006.

Rilling, Donna J. Making Houses, Crafting Capitalism: Builders in Philadelphia, 1790-1850. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001.

Sutherland, John F. “Housing the Poor in the City of Homes: Philadelphia at the Turn of the Century.” In The Peoples of Philadelphia: A History of Ethnic Groups and Lower-Class Life, 1790-1940. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1973.

Herman, Bernard L. Town House: Architectural and Material Life in the Early American City, 1780—1830. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.

Related Collections

Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia.

Philadelphia City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia.

Urban Archives, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, 1900 N. Thirteenth Street, Philadelphia.


Connecting the Past with the Present, Building Community, Creating a Legacy