By the first half of the 20th century, Philadelphia was a thriving metropolis with a robust economy fueled by a strong manufacturing base. At its peak, its population grew to more than 2.1 million people.
In the 1950s, Philadelphia was hit hard as our national economy shifted away from heavy manufacturing. As factories closed or moved away, Philadelphia witnessed an unprecedented population loss of over a half a million people, who left the city to hunt for work. Some neighborhoods lost half to two thirds of their residents leaving a staggering 26,000 vacant homes, 31,000 vacant lots and 2,500 vacant industrial and commercial buildings. As a result, Philadelphia's neighborhoods were plagued with crack dens, drug pushers, and prostitution.
Fortunately, the people here have revived the city in the spirit of the first Philadelphia, called by its founder William Penn, "a holy experiment." Their efforts have led to a renaissance in our nation's first city. This is the story of their sustainable success.