Ray Suarez: Philadelphia as a Patchwork Nation Industrial Metropolis

BY Ray Suarez  December 7, 2009 at 3:50 PM EST

In a century, Philadelphia has moved from a city of skilled blue collar workers, an economy with more than half its jobs in manufacturing, to a city where one out of 20 workers made things for a living. Depending on your vantage point, the city has made the transition, painful as it was, from the shipyards and factories to the research labs and operating rooms.

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Home to the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and Temple University, along with a host of smaller institutions of higher learning, Philadelphia has bet heavily on schools, medical centers, research and the arts.

Part one of the Patchwork Nation series rolling out online and on television takes a look at the way a big urban area, called an Industrial Metropolis in Patchwork Nation, has managed tough economic times.

Some boosters point to post-industrial economic diversity as the reason why the recession hasn’t been as hard on Philadelphia as other places in the country. More skeptical observers point to continued population loss and increasingly empty neighborhoods as proof that you can’t just look to Center City as an indicator of urban health.

Tune in to the PBS NewsHour Monday tonight to see the first segment in this week’s Patchwork Nation series.