Philadelphia in the Industrial Age

The Industrial Age in America radically transformed nearly every aspect of American daily life after the Civil War (1861-1865). Nowhere was this more evident than in Philadelphia, "the first great industrial city" (Beers, 430). However, as new technology and new modes of transportation changed the nature of work and travel, rapid industrialization also led to a wave of social and economic problems.

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Quaker Life in Philadelphia

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, "Philadelphia had transformed into an industrial city plagued by crime and local unrest and directed by political professionals who ignored moderation and traditional moral standards" (Benjamin, 73). Urbanization in Philadelphia brought to light a number of issues that became the basis for social and political policies. Educational reform, the rising immigrant population, the status of women and African Americans soon took precedence while the rise of factories led to debates over appropriate work hours, fair wages, and the use of child labor.

Members of the Quaker popluation in the city found themselves in powerful positions as "members of the boards of the city's banks, corporations, and social agencies" (Benjamin, viii). Members of the Cope and Evans families, like many other members of the Quaker community, grew concerned over the "moral climate" of the city (Benjamin, 93).

The subsequent Progressive Era saw a wave of legislation for social reform in the nation’s largest cities, including New York City, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

Industrial Revolution Timeline

Move through this timeline to explore the many revolutionary inventions that changed the way of life during the Industrial Age.

Philadelphia Timelapse

The impact of Philadelphia’s growing population was evident in the changing landscape and architecture of the city.