An Ethnography of Philadelphia Philadelphia is filled with rich history and is a great example of an American city built on advancement and diversity. Even in the 1900’s which the above picture depicts the tall buildings and carriages show a city already ahead of its time.
The city was founded in 1682 by William Penn. Originally established by Dutch and Swedish settlers in the early 1600’s,Penn was granted the territory by way of charter. He chose the territory between the junction of Delaware and the Schuylkill rivers. This area became known as Philadelphia .
Philadelphia Is located in the southeastern Part of Pennsylvania. Its roots are deeply ingrained into American history. It is the birthplace of our nation and where the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed by our founding fathers. It was the home of Betsy Ross , Benjamin Franklin and the Liberty Bell.
Starting in the 1900’s Philadelphia saw a steady growth of its population. In 1900 the population was 1.3 million. The picture above is of Market street in the center of the city taken in 1904. Notice the public transportation in the form of trolley cars that drove through the center of the streets. This was the beginning of the cities public transportation system. Crowds of people would hope on and hope off when they reached their destinations. This was an efficient way to move about the city.
In the 1900’s Philadelphia’s main industry was composed of manufacturing and industrialization. During this time Pennsylvania was the second largest state in manufacturing goods. These industries created an employment boom which was attractive to the new immigrants entering the country. The picture above is of women winding silk at the Sauguoit Silk Manufacturing Company in Philadelphia, PA.
The influx of German, Italian and Irish immigrants into Philadelphia and the rise of industrialization transformed the city into a prosperous and diverse area. The German immigrants moved to North Philadelphia (Germantown), the Italian immigrants moved to South Philadelphia and the Irish immigrants moved to Northeast Philadelphia. Many of the jobs were located in the City Center so they chose to migrate to areas that were close to it.
On March 4, 1907 a high speed elevated subway line debuted. Service operated from west Philadelphia to Center City. In 1908 service was extended to reach 2 nd , Chestnut and South Streets. This gave residents new options for travel.
After WWII Philadelphia saw a huge decrease in the industrial Industry. Businesses were moving to the suburbs and out of the city center. There was also a demographic change happening. This trend was known as “white flight”. Many middle and upper class whites were moving out of the urban areas and into more segregated suburban neighborhoods.
From the 1900’s to the 1950’s Philadelphia saw a steady increase in its population. By 1950 the population peaked at over 2 million. It was during this decade that the Philadelphia decline began. Notice the trolley cars are still in existence but there is the addition of the automobile. The car allowed people to move out of the City Center and into the suburbs. Commuting became a viable option for those who wanted to live a simpler and quieter life.
From the 1950’s to present day, the city of Philadelphia has seen a lose of nearly 554,055 residents. This brings its population in 2008 to approximately 1.5 million. There has been many theories as to why the city has seen such dramatic decreases in its population . One well regarded theory is the lack of job growth and development of nonmanufacturing jobs in the city.
Recently Philadelphia has realized the importance of a diverse job market. Relying less on low paying manufacturing jobs and more on information and service-based industries. Not only do these jobs pay better but they have growth potential. Such fields as medical, insurance and telecommunications have established headquarters and/or satellite offices in the city.
Philadelphia is a diverse city with various ethnic groups. Current statistics say that the city is made up of 45% white, 43.2% African American, 8.5% Hispanic, .4% Asian and 4.7% other races. Unfortunately the diversity seen in the city is not seen in most of the suburban neighborhoods. Neighborhoods made up of predominantly one race can be seen throughout Philly.
Philadelphia encompass at least a dozen neighborhoods. Many of these neighborhoods are segregated into black, white or Hispanic. Older neighborhoods tend to be predominantly African American, Hispanic neighborhoods occupy the corridor on the eastern side of north Philadelphia and the areas just north of Center City are overwhelmingly white. Notice in this picture the two and three family homes, these are extremely common in many of the African American and Hispanic neighborhoods.
City Center is the main area in Philadelphia. It is the central hub for employment. and tourism. Most of the museums, landmarks and government buildings are located in City Center. Many of the people who work in the city commute from the suburbs by train or car. Neighborhoods directly surrounding City Center include Chinatown, the Delaware River Front, Olde City, Rittenhouse Square, Society Hill and Washington Square. These neighborhoods are considered exclusive and not highly populated.
The wealthiest Philadelphians tend to reside in downtown Philadelphia within the limits of Olde Town and Society Hill. These are areas in close proximity to the Delaware River. As you move from the center of downtown to the surrounding parts of Philadelphia there are very distinctively pockets of segregated ethnic and racial groups. These groups are not located in an one particular area.
Each area in Philadelphia has its own distinct character and history. One such area is Germantown. It was originally settled by German immigrants who were promised religious tolerance. There are many historic homes located here but due to disrepair and an influx of low income residents the neighborhood has become run down. The picture above is in Germantown located between Indiana Avenue and Germantown Avenue. This picture of Germantown is similar to the one in Slide 12. Both areas are void of trees and grass and the homes are mostly two and three floor apartments.
One of the few neighborhoods that can boast of a high diversity rate ethnically, racially and economically is Mt. Airy, located in north west Philadelphia. The greatest concentration of Jewish people live in Mt. Airy. Its population is 40,000 residents who work in various jobs and range in age from young to old.
The beauty and history of Philadelphia has been tarnished by its ranking as one of the most dangerous cities in the country with a population over 500,000. According to crime statistics it ranks 7 out of 10. The Philadelphia police department from 2001 to 2006 reported an increase in murder, robbery and aggravated assault. The only violent offense that has seen a decline is rape.
Philadelphia is not a city of wealth. The average income in 2007 was $30,746, 22.9% of the population lives below the poverty line. The unemployment rate in 2006 was 6.2%. This rate is on the rise and only getting worse by the current economical problems plaguing the country. The economy is also suffering because of the decline in tourism.
Bibliography Independence Hall Association “A brief history of Philadelphia” Available from: http://www.ushistory.org/philadelphia/philadelphia.html K., Louis, 2001, William Penn Available from: http://www.williampenn.org/ United States Census Bureau “Quick Facts”, 2006 Available from: http://www.census.gov/ Info Please, “Population of the 20 Largest U.S. Cities, 1900–2005” Available from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0922422.html The Philadelphia Police Department, 2006 “Crime Statics” Available from: http://www.ppdonline.org/hq_statistics.php