Philly's personal timeline, a place to collect and share things from Philly's life.
Created by Phillytransitions on Sep 9, 2009
Last updated: 03/10/10 at 02:13 PM
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When Philadelphia billionaire Stephen Girard died in 1831, he bequeathed much of his fortune to charitable causes, including the creation of Girard College, an orphanage for white males. Girard College remained a segregated institution through the 1960's. Raymond Pace Alexander, one of Philadelphia’s key civil rights lawyers through the 60’s, unsuccessfully tried a series of lawsuits to desegregate the school by challenging Girard's will. In 1965, led by Cecil B. Moore, the NAACP challenged segregation of Girard College with protest. The Girard College protests marked Philadelphia's powerful role in the national civil rights movement and the emergence of young, more militant activists into the movement. Various black Philadelphians, including clergy, youth, seasoned activists, and gangs participated in the protests and were met with police violence. In response to the violence, the NAACP called off the protests on December 17th, but successfully won the desegregation of the orphanage through the court system in 1968.
Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and School Reform Commission of Philadelphia announces a five year strategic plan to reform the School District of Philadelphia. The plan's primary goals is to accelerate success for all the district's children. Other priorities include providing quality choices, recruiting and developing great talent, holding all adults accountable, and building world class operations that support the entire school system.
The Imagine 2014 has since begun to implement reforms that will close the achievement gap between the highest and lowest ranked schools, beginning with identifying and removing teachers performing below a level of acceptable effectiveness (Justin Ching)
The Curse of William Penn, which began when the first building taller than the statue of Philadelphia's founder of City Hall was built in 1987, was broken when the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series on this day. No professional sports team from Philadelphia had won a national championship since One Liberty Place was built in 1987. (Abby Schwartz)
In November of 1994, police received over thirty 911 calls from the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia from frantic neighbors trying to break up a youth riot. From the time of the first call it took 40 minutes for the police to arrive, but by then it was too late; sixteen-year-old Edward Polec had been beaten to death by an angry mob of his peers. The 911 operators treated the calls in a rude, arrogant, and disdainful manner and refused to send proper assistance to the neighborhood at first. Three were fired and three were placed on a leave of absence. The incident highlights what was a widespread discontent with youth violence and police inadequacy in Philadelphia. (Michael Tompkins)
Robbie Burns was a white college graduate (in radiation technology) who was shot dead by two Hispanic males on the corner of Rorer and Westmoreland in Kensington. The following day a large crowd of whites from the neighbourhood gathered at the corner and began marching. They were met by a car carrying the Hispanic Rosato family. The crowd gathered around the car and started to smash the windows. Michael Rosato began shooting and hit three men, though not fatally. This event shows the racial conflict that played out between working class whites and Hispanics (some immigrants some native born) in this racially transitional neighbourhood. From 1980-1990 the Latino population of Kensington rose by 40%, while the white population declined by 14%. In an area of the city hit by deindustrialisation and unemployment, competitiion for jobs and resources often boiled over into violent conflict. Ooffii Hardwick
November 1991 Ed Rendell was elected mayor of Philadelphia, inheriting a city from Frank Rizzo with multitude of problems. He was credited for cutting Philadelphia's $250 million deficit, balancing the budget, starting new revenue-generating plans, and improving many of Philadelphia's blighted neighborhoods. Buzz Bissinger, author of "A Prayer for the City" called Rendell's term of office "the most stunning turnaround in recent urban history." (Michael Tompkins)
Construction of the Helmut Jahn skyscraper, One Liberty Place, was completed in 1987. It was built at a time when many foreign firms were investing in Philadelphia real estate. The building was the first in Philadelphia built taller than the statue of William Penn on top of City Hall. A well known myth, the curse of William Penn, blames the construction of One Liberty Place for the lack of a professional sports championship in Philadelphia. So the story goes, a construction worker put a miniature statue of William Penn on the top of the Comcast Center, now the tallest building in Philadelphia, in 2008. The curse was then broken when the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series that same year. (Abby Schwartz)
The culmination of months of protest, the house of a black family in the mostly white neighborhood of Woodlawn in Southwest Philadelphia was burned. On October 31, a soda bottle was thrown through one of the home's windows, and three weeks later, a group of 400 white neighbors gathered outside the house in protest. This series of events demonstrates the kind of segregation that was imposed in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia in the 20th century. (Abby Schwartz)
On this date, the row house that was home to the radical MOVE organization at 63rd and Osage in West Philadelphia was firebombed by the police of Philadelphia. Responding to a complaint regarding noise and health hazards in the middle-class African-American neighborhood, police dropped a bomb on the roof which resulted in fire. The police allowed the fire to burn, which destroyed much the surrounding neighborhood and killed eleven people. The incident was a symbol of urban mismanagement in the 1980s. It also signified both the tension between African-Americans and Whites and the tension between African-Americans and the police in Philadelphia. EM
Wilson Goode was elected as the first African-American mayor of Philadelphia. Although he held the black electorate, he won only 19% of the white vote. Therefore throughout his term he reached out to the white population and business elites inorder to build a coalition. He is credited with major urban renewal of centre city, most notably the rebuilding of the Philadelphia skyline. However his legacy was marred by his decision to bomb the MOVE house in Powelton village on May 13th 1985. Ooffii Hardwick
The Phillies won the 1980 World Series for the first time in 6 games against the Kansas City Royals. During a time of urban decline through the loss of population, jobs and ultimately tax base, this victory gave the city a sense of pride and cultural renewal. Relief pitcher Tug McGraw, who pitched the final strike of the winning game summed up the city's feelings when he said: "All throughout baseball history, Philadelphia has had to take a back seat to New York City. Well, New York can take this championship and stick it, because we're number one!" He may have just been talking about baseball but since the 19th century New York had outstripped Philadelphia economically, demographically and culturally, however the 1980 World Series gave Philadelphians a little bit more belief and confidence in their city. Ooffii Hardwick
This act was the first major piece of legislation to address the status of refugees in the United States. It resulted in the institution of a political asylum system that reflected international law and allocated funds toward refugee resettlement. In terms of Philadelphia, this act corresponded with an increase in the foreign-born population from the former Soviet Union, Vietnam, Liberia and Cambodia. Between the 1980s to 2000 saw roughly 33,000 refugees arrive in Philadelphia. Resettlement programs speak to the strength of the ties that exist within ethnic groups, as many of them banded together to provide assistance to refugees. For example, community efforts resulted in the creation of the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition. This body was formed in 1984 and provides access to English lessons, health services and other social services to more than 1,500 refugees annually. (P. Ellermann)
In 1970, JB Stetson and Sons hat company stopped manufacturing hats in their factory in the West Kensington area of Philadelphia. The closing of the plant, which at its peak employed 10,000 people, is just one example of the effects of deindustrialization on Philadelphia, a trend that began around 1920. Companies began looking for cheaper labor, taking many first to the Southern United States and then out of the country. Deindustrialization completely altered the economic landscape of Philadelphia, which went from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. (A. Marcus)
3,500 of Philadelphia's high school students marched to the Board of Education's main administration building on the morning of Friday, November 17, 1967. The students were waiting to hear the results of negotiations to bring community control to Philadelphia's public schools. The negotiations wanted to bring more African American teachers to schools to better reach the student population and curb the high dropout numbers. CBS
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, reversed national-origin quotas which previously excluded many immigrant groups from entering the United States. This act effectively overturned such policies as the 1924 National Origins Act which barred the entry of Asians. The opening of borders in 1965 led to a significant increase in immigration to the United States, although Philadelphia did not draw in as many immigrants as other major metropolises at the time. The bulk of immigrants would arrive in later decades, and over half of the Philadelphia’s current foreign-born population would arrive after 1990. However, this time period did mark a significant turning point in the diversity of immigrants. Immigration at the time consisted largely of Europeans, whereas presently Asian and Latin American immigrants make up the majority. (P. Ellermann)
Escalating tensions between black populations in North Philadelphia and the Philadelphia police led to rioting. No one was killed in the riots, but quite a few people were injured and there was lots of property damage. This riot was part of a series of race riots reacting to police brutality in northern cities. This event is indicative of continuing racial iniquities in Philadelphia during the Civil Rights Movements. It also showed the city the importance of Cecil B. Moore as an African American leader. Meg Hess-Homeier
On this date, the the Pennsylvania General Assembly established the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). SEPTA controls the city's buses, trolleys, subways and commuter rail lines (inherited from the Penn Central and Reading railroads) in the city and suburbs. In the 19th century, Philadelphia's public transportation evolved from hacks and omnibuses to horse drawn streetcars to cable cars and electric trolleys. Like its predecessors, SEPTA played a role in remaking the geography of the Philadelphia region. Since its inception, SEPTA has been the host to conflict between Philadelphia's city and suburbs. This conflict epitomizes Philadelphia's lack of a regional perspective. One of the biggest criticisms of SEPTA in this regard is that it favors bringing suburban commuters into the city rather than urban commuters into the suburbs for entry-level jobs. (K. Schwab)
A fierce civil rights advocate, George Schermer created West Mount Airy Neighbors (WMAN) to strengthen community ties and prevent white flight as black families began moving into the neighborhood. Specifically, WMAN targeted discriminatory education and real estate practices to bolster racial harmony. WMAN was influential in the desegregation of one of its elementary schools, as well as targeted harmful practices such as steering and blockbusting. Mt. Airy is widely known for its uniquely integrated community, and research has pointed to the strengths of community groups such as WMAN in attaining its present cohesion. (P. Ellermann)
William Levitt modeled Levittown after his first subdivision, of the same name, in Long Island, New York. Levittown offered working class Philadelphians their chance at the new American ideal of spacious and picturesque home ownership. Levittown was built around the same time as the federal government passed the Federal Highway Act and begun issuing subsidies for suburban home ownership. In combination with these measures, the completion of Levittown and other suburbs in the area facilitated the mass migration of white Philadelphians out of the city. Because of exclusionary devices used by Levitt, the federal government and the National Association of Real Estate Boards, black Philadelphians were unable to attain the new American ideal and were left in the old and run-down city paying high prices for inadequate housing. Despite exclusionary measures, some blacks still attempted to move to Levittown. The first were the Myers who purchased a home there in 1957 and were met with violence from residents who feared black neighbors would lower their property value; they eventually left Levittown.
In an attempt to reform Philadelphia machine politics, the city's Home Rule Charter was rewritten to strengthen the city's overall civil service system. The revision increased the power of the mayor, reorganized City Council, and gave the city planning commission more responsibility. The same year the revised Home Rule Charter was adopted, a Democrat reformer, Joseph Clark, was elected mayor. (Abby Schwartz)
The Fair Employment Practices required that administrators of jobs could not ask applicants any questions in regard to what race the applicant was. The Fair Employment Practices Committee reduced discrimination in the work force. CBS
The Second Great Migration was a huge movement of African Americans from the South to the North, starting around World War II, and lasting through the 1960s. In this time, millions of African Americans left the South for economic and political reasons, and moved to urban centers in the North, notably Philadelphia. This migration dramatically altered the demographics of the city, which had a population that was 5% black in 1900 and a population that was 40% black by 1980 and 46% black by 2000. The migration of African Americans into Philadelphia challenged the place-based identities of white Philadelphians and led to an extremely racially polarized city. (A. Marcus)
After 25 years of play, the Yellow Jackets were granted an NFL franchise and became Philadelphia's first professional football team. The team played its games in Frankford, an industrial neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia. In 1926 the team won an NFL Championship and won 14 games in the regular season, a record that would not be broken until 1984 when the San Francisco 49ers won 15 games. In 1931 the team disbanded. Two years later, Burt Bell and Lud Wray bought the rights to the Yellow Jackets NFL franchise and created from its ashes the Philadelphia Eagles, which are still in existence today. (Michael Tompkins)
May 1915: The RMS Lusitania sank in May 1915. This was the pivotal moment where more Americans desired to go to war with German because they suspected that Germany had torpedoed the American cruise liner. This tragedy had a personal impact on Philadelphia because the ship’s death toll included twenty-seven Philadelphians. Although more Philadelphians wanted to enter WWI, there was still a divide between anti-war and pro-war Philadelphians. This does not mean that Philadelphia was without ethnic and pro-war tensions. Because of its position as the “most American of American cities” its patriotism created anti-German fervor. This fervor manifested itself in acts of vandalism, suspension of the city’s German newspapers, and lighter anti-German instances where sauerkraut was renamed “Liberty cabbage” (N. Nelson).
In the time preceding his control, Philadelphia had lost its identity as a center for arts and haven for artists. The Philadelphia art world had refused many times before to embrace modern art movements, such as its weeklong protest of the Oscar Wilde-Richard Strauss opera Salome in 1909. However, Stokowski’s leadership marked the rise to international fame of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the exception to Philadelphia’s distaste for modern art. Enchanting Philadelphians with his personality and flair, Stokowski captured the minds of otherwise conservatives enough so that they’d accept his program of unconventional music of modern composers with delight. In 1916, he put on a show consisting of more than 1000 musicians and singers on stage in the American premiere of Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony. (Justine Cammisa)
This Philadelphia stadium proved to be the most modern in America. Home to the Philadelphia Athletics, it played a huge part in not only expanding the spectrum of entertainment of the early 20th century, but also the transformation of the sport in general. It held 30,000 spectators and helped baseball finally become a big business. Contrasted with the poorly funded home of the Philadelphia Phillies of the time (NLCS champions in 1915!), it was the first concrete-and-steel arena, and helped put Philadelphia at the head of the move to accessible public transportation, as it was close to the convergence of the railroad lines, trolley lines, and North Philadelphia stations. (Justine Cammisa)
February 1909: The Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railroad Employees (AASERE) went on strike. These employees went on strike because the Philadelphia Transit Company (PRT) refused to acknowledge AASERE’s union or meet any of its demands in PRT’s 1907 contract with Philadelphia. The strike brought Philadelphia transit to a halt. PRT was reluctant to negotiate until mid April, approximately sixty-six days after the strike began. The strikers eventually went back work and receiving pay raises and freedom to join the AASERE. This event was important because it demonstrates big business’s power in the 20th century. Because government was so closely aligned with business, PRT assumed that it would be able to ignore its workers’ needs. The conditions that led up to the strike also demonstrate that Philadelphia had become a metaphorical graveyard for unionism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which greatly contrasted its reputation as the birthplace of American labor unionism in the 1820s (N. Nelson).
The Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company was established in 1907 through the merger of several independent transit companies operating throughout the metropolitan area. Peter A.B. Widener was one of two principles of the company. His ownership of the company exemplifies the way in which Philadelphia's entrepreneurial nouveau riche built their fortunes by investing in the city's expanding infrastructure. The founding of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company also evidences the advent of the streetcar era, which facilitated suburbanization in the Philadelphia region. (B. Sgambati)
The Market Street Subway was opened in March 1907. This event is significant because it was the city’s first underground railway. It connected with the Market Street Elevated, which ran to Sixty-Ninth Street in West Philadelphia. The new line also made the portion of the city beyond Fiftieth accessible to Center City for the first time and transformed it from a country-like environment to a thriving business and residential district within a decade. It also representsPhiladelphia's modernization in the 20th century (N.Nelson).
In April 105, the Finance Committee introduced a bill implementing Israel Durham’s plan for a new lease of the United Gas Improvement Company. The U.G.I, headed by Durham's friend and supporter Thomas Dolan, would pay the city $25 million over a period of three years instead of the previous annual rentals. The bulk payments would provide monetary rewards for Durham’s supporters all over the city. This scandal embodied the political activities of the early 20th century, where corruption ruled. However, it was not met with the same complacency of Philadelphians as previous corrupt politics were. Papers such as The North American, Public Ledger and Press took this opportunity to devote their front pages to criticisms of Durham and company, and on May 3, 5000 Philadelphians gathered in front of the Academy of Music to stage a demonstration. This outcry led Mayor Weaver to publicly agree with the discontented Philadelphians and express his dissent from the Council. Angry Philadelphians made their displeasure clear with rallies and intimidation tactics, appearing at the houses of the councilmen loyal to Durham, who quickly abandoned the gas steal to support Mayor Weaver. On June 1st, the Councils withdrew the U.G.I. ordinance, and the corrupt organization was defeated on the gas issue. The Gas War, as it came to be known, led to the organization of the City Party led by city reformers, optimistic from their gas victory. On election night in fall 1905, Philadelphians, still resentful of the Republican party, defeated them in the “worst defeat sustained by the Organization in its entire history”. (Justine Cammisa)
Muckracking journalist Lincoln Steffens published "Philadelphia: Corrupt and Contented" in McClure's Magazine in 1903. In this article, he addressed Philadelphia's reputation as a city home to rampant political corruption and an ambivalent citizenry that appeared unconcerned with addressing the problems. He also detailed examples of electoral abuses by the city's Republican machine. Steffens' article provides insight into Philadelphia's era of machine politics. He also serves an example of the voice for reform that emerged in the city between the 1880s and 1920s. (B. Sgambati)
W.E.B. Du Bois, working for the University of Pennsylvania, publishes "The Philadelphia Negro" after meticulously researching the 7th ward district of Philadelphia, an area with one of the highest concentrations of African Americans at around 1/3. The book describes the problems afflicitng much of the Black population of Philadelphia at the time, and ultimately blames the treament of Blacks by Whites for many of these problems. It was among the first sociology book of its kind to explore the African American subculture within the context of a larger city. (C. Smith)
Samuel H. Ashbridge served as Mayor of Philadelphia from 1899 to 1903. As the Republican candidate, he received over 84% of the vote during the election. This extremely successful result evidences the fact that, from the 1870s to the 1940s, Philadelphia politics were dominated by the city's Republican machine. Ashbridge also serves as an example of a city politician who sought to maximize personal gain while in office. He was once quoted as saying "I need to get everything out of this office that there is for Samuel H. Ashbridge". (B. Sgambati)
The Romanian Shul, formed in 1892 at 426 Spruce Street in the Society Hill Neighborhood, served Philadelphia’s community of Jewish Romanian immigrants. Today, the building stands as the Society Hill Synagogue. This was a regular phenomenon during this period; there was, for example, also a Hungarian Shul and a Vilna Shul. Additionally, it was not unique to Philadelphia’s Jewish community. Within nearly all ethnic neighborhoods, there were divisions that reflected the particular region, or even city, from which the group of immigrants came. This gave Philadelphia’s ethnic geography another dimension of complexity, and a very distinctive quality as pockets emerged not only of Polish, Italian, or Jewish immigrants, but of much more specialized groups. (Will Darwall)
The Free Library of Philadelphia was founded and created in 1891 and became Philadelphia's first real public library. It was located on 1221-1227 Chestnut Street. It was first financially supported by George Pepper, who donated $250,000 to the library. Later, other renowned individuals, such as P.A.B. Widener, donated a million-dollar gift to the library. This first Free Library of Philadelphia had an enormous impact upon the city, for it further encouraged education progression to the individuals of Philadelphia -- S. Hayden
The Philadelphia Phillies came to the city in 1883 from Massachusetts. They became one of two Philadelphia teams. The other was the Athletics. Prior to coming to Philadelphia, the Phillies were originally called the Worcester Ruby Legs. However, there name was changed to reflect the nickname of the city, Philly. The first owner of the Phillies was Al Reach and he joined the club in 1883. The Phillies first game was played on May 1, 1883 at Recreation Park. Unfortunately, they lost and continued to do poorly their first season (17W -48L). But in1901, the Phillies did much better and were close to winning the championship. However, the Athletics were the stars of Philly during this period. The Phillies lost a lot of their good players and lapsed. However, baseball became one of Philadelphia’s premier sports and in the mid 1890’s Philadelphia was known as “the best baseball city in the world”. ( A. Nunn)
The second major influx of foreign immigrants to Philadelphia occurred from the 1880s to just about 1914. By this time, the major source of immigrants had shifted, as a vast majority came now from eastern and southern Europe. This era’s three largest migrant groups were Italians, Slavs and Poles, and Jews. The Italians were mostly motivated to come to Philadelphia by the collapse of the Italian agricultural economy. The Italians who came were largely men seeking work, who sought to make money and return to their homes in Italy. Because of their strong connections to the places of their homeland, much stronger than other immigrant groups, about half of the Italians who immigrated to Philadelphia during this period returned to Italy. The Slavs and Poles coming to Philadelphia during this period, like the Italians, fled agricultural collapse. Though this group’s immigration to Philadelphia was not as large as it was to other cities, especially Midwestern cities like Chicago, Pittsburgh, and other western Pennsylvania mining towns, they represented a large portion of Philadelphia’s new population. The Jews, more than any other group, came to Philadelphia fleeing violent repression. The repression of Jews in Eastern Europe, which began with the suppression of culture and escalated to direct violence in widespread pogroms, reached its peak during this period. Philadelphia seems to have been particularly attractive to Jews as it was a center of industrial textiles, which had been a Jewish niche in Europe. (Will Darwall)
The Philadelphia Centennial Exposition was held in the year of 1876, which marked the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was a fair that celebrated the prominent innovations and successes of America. It was held in Philadelphia’s renowned Fairmount Park, in which it covered more than 450 acres of land. Several buildings were built, and each exhibited different unique developments in America, such as advancements in industrial, art, and agriculture. During the year of the centennial, over 10 million individuals came to view the celebrated successes of America. --S. Hayden
An African American cricket baseball player, educator, and civil rights activist, Octavius Catto was shot and killed on an election day by a group of Irish men attempting to prevent Black men from voting. Catto was opposed to the Democratic machine politics which the group of Irish men supported. Catto's murderer, Frank Kelly, was not convicted of assault or murder. (C. Smith)
The creation of professional, public fire departments was a trend across the Western World. Philadelphians were no longer subjected to the whim of private Firehouse companies, which were nothing more than glorified gangs. Fires were only put out if the owners had insurance. This new public service was funded by another new reform: citywide taxes. Fire extinction systems therefore evolved from private luxury to public good. (O. Gusman)
This building embodied the new urban infrastructure of Philadelphia. It is located in the heart of the city (Center Square). It had a imposing stature compared to the State House now known as Independence Hall. It equally symbolized the expansion of municipal government (700 rooms). The ornateness of the architecture and construction materials (i.e. marble) reflected the increased importance of municipal government. (O. Gusman)
Fairmount Park was originally created to help deal with the issue of maintaining clean water for the Fairmount Water Works system. The city of Philadelphia believed that having a park nearby the Water Works would decrease the amount of pollution that went into the water. It also was made as a form of escape for the Philadelphian residents, who were bored with the monotonous city lifestyle. The park’s design was greatly influenced by Victorian ideals. The design called for winding roads and a mix of man-made and nature-made wildlife. However in order to build the park, homes in the area known as Flat Iron had to be destroyed. What was beneficial about the creation of the park, was that it provided many jobs for Philadelphia. ( A. Nunn)
This was a consequence of the consolidation trend in the municipal government of Philadelphia. The uniformed policemen physically embodied the law. Patrols replaced the night watches and policemen became more proactive and asserted their power in the city. Prior to this institution, law enforcement was done by common citizens and often led to civil lawsuits rather than criminal charges. (O. Gusman)
The Act of Consolidation was created to make the city of Philadelphia more structured and easier to govern. Another reason for consolidation was for a way to bring tax revenue to the city, which Philadelphia desperately needed. The act called for the consolidation of the surrounding boroughs, townships and districts under one municipal authority, the Philadelphia government. Prior to the consolidation the local governments were unable to combat the problems that existed in their borough, township, etc. Therefore it was necessary for Philadelphia’s government to create one common municipality. However, the government wanted to make sure that the different regions of the city maintained their own local identities. The government did this by creating geographically based council districts that were a part of one overarching government. Furthermore, Philadelphia was one of the first cities to consolidate and stood as a model for other cities. ( A. Nunn)
After passing both houses of legislature, Gov. William Bigler signed the new Philadelphia charter during the night of February second. The charter consolidated the city and the outlying city districts. Philadelphia desperately needed a larger tax base to provide services such as water, sewerage and the paving, lighting and cleaning of streets. Police and firefighters were decentralized and ineffectual and a tax supported, central force was needed. The population had continually been moving and spreading outside of the original city limits. The new charter established new boundaries for the city providing it with the tax dollars it so desperately needed to maintain its health as an urban center.
This outbreak of cholera forced the Sanitary Committee of the Board of Health to reevaluate the cleanliness of the city and address concerns about the often unlivable conditions of the poorer neighborhoods. This also highlighted the connection between disease and sanitation. Efforts were undertaken to clean up the streets in a way never seen before. Further, the city handled the outbreak not through prayer but rather through sanitary measures– a shift in the understanding of the conditions of the poor and sources of disease. This outbreak spurred advances in the medical field as public concern over its health increased. Better health care and physicians were demanded and the medical schools responded accordingly (M. O’Brien).
The Potato Famine in Ireland, during which approximately one million people died and another million immigrated out of the country, was caused by a diseased potato crop and completely decimated the population, a great portion of whom depended on the potato for both livelihood and food. Philadelphia was a magnet for Irish citizens who survived the famine and left Ireland, and the Irish were one of the most important groups of people who came to Philadelphia during the period of "old immigration" (1830s-1860s). The Irish were the worst-received group during that period, characterized as subhuman, and not considered to be white. However, over the course of the 19th century, their position in Philadelphia and American society changed as they used military service and involvement in public works to make claims for full citizenship, and by the turn of the 20th century, most of the animus towards them had faded. (A. Marcus)
The first train of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad arrived in Philadelphia, changing the pattern of bringing supplies in via the canal. On January 10 an engine brought 75 passenger cars with 2150 passengers and three bands from Pottsville to a gala celebration in Philly. Behind the passenger train was another train loaded with 180 tons of coal. In May a line was established for the express purpose of brining coal to the Delaware River. Over the next couple of years the Reading Railroad increases the tonnage of coal that it carried, substantially exceeding that brought through the Fairmount locks and winning the war with the canal company. (M Haviland)
The Bank of the United States, run by Nicholas Biddle, a native Philadelphian, was the largest corporation in the nation and helped to enforce a uniform standard of paper currency. Andrew Jackson, a proponent of hard currency, saw the bank as a "monster" and fought against it throughout his presidency, removing federal deposits from it and eventually driving it into insolvency. Its failure caused many other banks to fail and started a six year depression. (A Nakahara)