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National History Day 2006
"Taking A Stand"



"As public historian for the Philadelphia City Archives , I have found many interesting examples of Philadelphia citizens taking a stand for environmental safety, equal rights, and government accountability."

Dona W. Horowitz-Behrend Ph.D



1. Taking a Stand for Racial Equality:
Octavious V. Catto

Octavious Catto, an Afro-American leader and educator took a stand for racial equality in Philadelphia after the Civil War. He was murdered walking home from the school that he founded. Transcripts of the trials of his murderers; descriptions of his funeral, the largest held in Philadelphia at that time; and his death certificate are at the City Archives.


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Docket of the Court of Quarter Sessions,
Volume 128, page 79

(Philadelphia City Archives Record Group 21-2)

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Weekly Return of Interments in the Lebanon Cemetery, Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia for
the week ending 20 October 1871

(Philadelphia City Archives Record Group 76.21)


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Returns of Death in the City of Philadelphia for:

Octavius V. Catto 10 October 1871
Isaac Chase 10 October 1871
Jacob Gordon 11 October 1871

(Philadelphia City Archives Record Group 76.21)

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Nash, Gary B.
First City: Philadelphia and the Forging of Historical Memory .

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002. pp. 252-254.


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Afrolumens project
Biography of Octavious V. Catto:

"Forgotten Black hero of Philadellphia"
by Andy Waskie, Ph.D.


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City Of Brotherly Mayhem
Philadelphia Crimes and Criminals by Ron Avery

Chapter 2 - An Election Day Murder

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Atwater Kent Collection- Taking a Stand

Octavius V. Catto, African American Elks Lodge Banner, 1903

Maker unknown; velvet, gold embroidery, fringe, and wood. AKMP Collection Fund purchase and conservation, 2004-5.

In the 19th century racial and ethnic segregation led communities to form their own benevolent associations. These groups provided people with opportunities for socializing and mutual aid. Many associations continue to exist today. The African American Elks Lodge in Philadelphia carries the name of Octavius V. Catto, a dynamic 19th century community activist and brilliant educator. Catto was a leader in the Pennsylvania Equal Rights League and in its fight to desegregate streetcars. Rioters trying to keep blacks from the polls murdered Catto on Election Day 1871.

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2. Taking a Stand for Equality in Housing and Employment: The Commission on Human Relations.

The materials from the Commission on Human Relations chronicle both citizens and government taking a stand for equality in housing and employment. Examples are Annual Reports from the early fifties that include sections on fair employment practices and preparing residents for changing neighborhoods. Later attempts to mediate violence between Anglo and Hispanic gangs in Kensington; blacks and whites in Southwest Philadelphia; and the extensive support given to Southeast Asian newcomers in the early eighties are chronicled in reports and publications by the commission from 1950-1988.

148.1 Annual Reports-1950, 1953-59,61-67,1974,1975

1948-49: Fair Employment Practice Commission-City of Philadelphia. 1st Annual Report.

1956: In Folder: What to do 1 a program for leaders in changing neighborhoods. prepared by Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

Your home in a changing neighborhood:A Guide for Community Leaders in Racially Changing Neighborhoods.
Where to go for help. Commission on Human Relations; The Philadelphia Catholic Housing Council; Philadelphia Council of Churches; American Friends Service Committee; The Philadelphia Fellowship.Between 1940 and 1950 the number of Negro home owners more than quadrupled in Phila.
"Some Suggestions About Neighborhood Meetings In Racially Changing Areas."; "Sample Agenda and Meeting Guides for Leaders in Racially Changing Neighborhoods";Filmstrip: "The House Across the Street" impartial view about racial change--23 mins.Sample letter notification of a meeting.; Charter of the Upper Germantown Neighbor Association.; A Statement of Principle adopted by The Church Community Relations Council-Pelham-Germantown. Representing: The Church of the Epiphany (Episcopal); The Germantown Jewish Centre and The Unitarian Chruch of Germantown.

1959 Annual Report: Appendix C. Case Histories: employment, firing based on race, white doorman charges discrimination; claims job denial because of race.

1967 Annual Report:excellent case studies for civil rights.

1968-1969 From this Day Foreward, Philadelphia Commission Human Relations 1968-69
What requirements are actually needed to hold a job--are a high school and college diploma necessary? The Commission is holding series of orientation seminars for area businessmen.

1979-1980: Violence in Kensington between Anglo and Hispanic gangs. Summer. Similiar violence between blacks and whites in Southwest Phila.. Extensive support given to Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, and other Southest Asian newcomers. "Inkies" or all-white Anglo gang of youths attacking chiefly Hispanic families and youth in Olney. The issue of squatters moving into Tasker Homes apartments (270 vacant awaitingrehabilitation) stirred considerable neighborhood feelings. Commission staff worked with neighborhood church groups, public agencies and Grays Ferry Community Council.

1995-1996: Building Bridges: 95-96 Annual Report: The City of Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations Recovered almost one million in back pay, lost composition and other settlement agreements from 1992-1996. Chart of cases filed by type. Public hearing to repeal the ban on residential sold signs in the city.Manufacturer of industrial air conditioners agreed to pay a Complainant $19,000 to settle. The complainant alledged the company allowed his co-workers to draw cartoons and make verbal insults and abuse him because of his disability and perceived sexual orientation. A female Complainant alleged that a management employee sexually harassed her and wrongfully fired her about the harassment.A Hispanic part-time Housekeeper alleged that a hotel discriminated against her by refusing to give her a full time position with benefits because of her ancestry.Car rental agent alleged was disciminated against because of race. As part of settlement with US Justice Department, the Commission provided HIV/AIDS training to every member of Philadelphia Fire Department.

148.2 1950 to 1971.Commission's work with neighborhoods and community action groups.

A 2822 Commission on Human Relations: example of contents of a box.

1.Stanton School, Citizens Committee vs Callous Principal. 3/30/59. 16th and Cumberland Sts.
2.Services -Housing Projects: Levittown: In reaction to Myers family (black) purchasing a house, August 13,1957.Church and Jewish Community take opposition.Citizen's Committee for Levittown formed. File contains newspaper clippings, formation of Citizens Group.
3. Picketing of Woolworth Stores-1960.expression of sympathy of sit-ins in the south.
4. Patrolman Martinelli Folder: 6/16/1961.White cop killed black man. North Philadelphia Committee for Equal Justice. Cop kills two bystanders by mistaken ID.newsclippings, announcements by North Philadelphia Committee for Equal Justice.
5. Synagogue Desecration-Swastikas-2nd Police District-Northeast 1/10/60. 20 different insidents within last several weeks. American Nazi Party incidents of group tensions.City of Philadelphia.1960: Report on Public Inquiry into Anti-Religious Acts,February 8,1960. Commission on Human Relations,

A2862 1953-1965 Police Human Relations, Speeches, Swastika hearing.Services-General Religious Symbols.

148.4 Reports, Publications, 1950-1988.

1953,Philadelphia Negro Population Facts on Housing.
1954, Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia.
1958-1960 Intergroup Problems in Housing
1958-1960: Intergroup Problems in Housing.Commission on Human Relations, City of Philadelphia Prepared by Dennis Clark, Supervisor Housing Division, August, 1961. Pennsylvania Economy League Library. Summary of case studies with case number; breakdown of who made complaint--individual or group.Negro, Puerto Rican,Japanese, Chinese, Professional Negro women,Cherokee-Indian,Portuguese-speaking family.
1959 Regulations of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, City of Philadelphia.

1959 Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia, Commission on Human Relations.

1960.Racial Change and neighborhood Standards, Annual Report

1960: What to do: A Program for Community leaders to promote fair housing practices: Philadelphia Commission Human Relations.In packet: "To Sell...or Not to Sell? A Guide for Homeowners, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia."Suggestions For Local Leaders On Intergroup Education Work In Restricted Neighborhoods"."What Happens When Neighbors Pay Money to Forestall Racial Change?,"Summary of Sample Housing Cases From the Files of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations" compiled by the Housing Division.Includes case file

1960 The Big Change,Commission on Human Relations. Annual Report Richardson Dilworth mayor. "if the man can do the job, his color or creed doesn't matter. hire him."

1960's Newspaper Clippings . Fear and Concern Prompt Whites to Call Meetings on Racial Issues. The Puerto Rican.PA Economy League Library.

1958,1961,1962 Commission on Human Relations Bulletin Pro and Con: Girard College--A Public Issue (1958).

1960-1962 Inside Facts monthly newsletter summarizing Commission on Human Relations activities.Changing neighborhoods intervention. Local union infractions.Housing discrimination; racial conflicts

1966: Directory of Intergroup Relation Agencies in Philadelphia

1966: Racial Discrimination in Housing: Findings and Recommendations

1984: Asians and their Neighbors: A Public Investigatory Hearing.

1988: The State of Intergroup Harmony Race Relations in Philadelphia: A 1989 Perspective-A 1990 Opportunity. Temple University Institute for Public Policy Studies.

1991: Report to Mayor W. Wilson Goode on Public Hearings Regarding Concerns of the Philadelphia Latino Community.

1991 State of Intergroup Harmony 1984-1991 Bridging the Old...With the New.case studies and surveys.

Slave Harness, c.1700-1840

Maker unknown; iron and cooper.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection at the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia.

Little is known about the circumstances when this type of restraint might have been used, but it is likely that it served both as a punishment and as a warning to other slaves regarding behavior. Anyone wearing such a harness would easily have been identified as a slave. This harness with bands to confine neck and waist or chest has a cow bell at the top that would ring whenever the wearer would move. There is no evidence that this harness was ever used. There is significant evidence that restraints such as chains, head harnesses, leg irons, and hand and feet shackles were used to punish slaves. Whipping and branding were other forms of punishment.

Draft Raffle Drum

Maker unknown; metal drum on wood platform.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection at the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia.

President Lincoln first proposed a draft during the Civil War in early 1862 when the number of volunteers no longer met the military’s need for soldiers. The draft was implemented during the summer of 1862 and again in 1863 and 1864. Although Philadelphia did not experience draft riots such as those in New York City in summer 1863, the draft was unwelcome and provoked strong reactions. Even though the need for soldiers was great, black Americans were not allowed to volunteer until 1863 and were typically relegated to non-combatant support roles. There were some legendary black units that fought on the front lines.

Real Estate Sale Sign, c.1947-55

Maker unknown; wood and metal.
Donated by Greg Moore and Margaret Funderberg, 1993. Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection at the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s industrial and military facilities drew thousands to the city to work in war-related industries and services during World War II. This influx of people created serious housing shortages especially for low and moderate income people. This realtor wanted to sell exclusively to Black soldiers “GI’s” who would have had the financial resources top purchase a home through the GI Bill of Rights. Historically, African Americans experienced more segregation in housing and public accommodations than white ethnic minority groups. Laws prohibiting racial discrimination in jobs, voting, and housing were not passed until the Civil Rights acts of the 1960s.

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3. Taking a Stand Against Graft and Patronage: The City Charter Movement

Citizens and government leaders took a stand in the 1940's and 1950's against graft and patronage by making government more accountable to the citizens. During the Clark Administration, Mayor Clark led the effort to amend the City Charter. Files of correspondence between him and various citizens document the passion of each point of view. One letter of interest was written to the Mayor by a high school student advocating a city government free of patronage.

60-2.3 Administration of Joseph S. Clark 1952-1956

A.459.86 1953 Home Rule Charter

The New Home Rule Charter, the City-County Consolidation was supported to fight the patronage system.
Included are letters to the Mayor from citizens against the patronage system and letters signed by Mayor Clark to State senators in support of The New Home Rule Charter. Also, House Bill No. 747: Session of 1953 giving the citizens in cities the right to rule themselves and form the governing body of the Fairmount Park Commission to govern Fairmount Park. House Bill No. 917 Session of 1953: acquired 40,000 signatures in support of the amemndments.

Letter to Mayor Clark from Olney High School student in support of the Home Rule Charter and reply.

A 469.69 Home Rule Charter 1954

Letters in support of city's consildation by individual citizens and against patronage in city government; newspaper clippings showing charter fight.
Committee of Seventy Newsletter. The Committee of Seventy, founded in 1904, was a watchdog for free elections and printed bi-partisan literature for citizens.
Original petition and amendment.

60.2.4 Richardson Dilworth 1956-1962

The Home Rule Charter resulted in more accountablity to Philadelphia citizens Weekly reports were given by each city department and complaints and inquiries
from citizens answered, then filed.

A-502 Administration, Commerce, Police, Health:
A503 Recreation, Public Welfare Department;
Streets-clean block,traffic engineer, trash collection, Water Department.

Making government more accountable to Philadelphia's citizens has been a consistent theme. Prior to the City Charter a Revenue Commissioner was appointed to gather information about Philadelphia corruption.

City Charter Revision Commission
17.1 Public Hearings: February 14-June 26, 1973.

Municipal Projects

160.23 Pamplets 1860-1893
.7 Proceedings of Mass Meeting of City of Philadelphia held March 24, 1871. Protest against Commission on Errection of Public Buildings about the location of City Hall.

A.2227: Municipal Developments CENTER CITY 1960:
Citizen donation for completion of Head House Square.Letter to Mayor Dilworth about purchase of land at 503 S. 26th Street, currently industrial, to build a private house. Dilworth supported.

Against: Community Council of the 18th Ward; individual business owners and employees that will be displaced; displaced homeowners. For: Greater Philadelphia Movement to ease traffic congestion in South Philadelphia. Sent 100 letters to area businesses.

A2227: Municipal Developments:Labor:GENERAL ELECTRIC STRIKE, October, 1960.
Mayor Dilworth took a stand against the General Electric Co. and mass rioting that ensued because of a strike. Citizens from Philadelphia and elsewhere wrote letters to Dilworth against the rioting and lawlessness.G.E. threatened to move out of the city unless Dillworth authorized the police to escort scabs through picketlines and help GE break the strike. The Mayor's response was chronicled across the country.

Veteran's Stadium:

The location of stadiums always resulted in citizens taking a stand.

A2245 Mayor's files 1961-62. Municipal Development O-Z-State Legistlation.

Stadium proposed 1961-New Site Committee-Citizen correspondence.
Alternate suggested sites were 30th Street, Kensington, Torresdale, Society Hill.

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4. Taking a Stand by Imposing a Vision upon Philadelphia

The City Archives has many examples of individuals imposing their own vision upon Philadelphia. The controversy over the location of City Hall; the creation of Benjamin Franklin Parkway; and the waterfront's development are but a few.

Edmund Bacon for example, imposed a vision upon Philadelphia. The Comprehensive Center City Plan published by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission in 1960 received much comment from the Press. City Planning Commission Records in the fifties and sixties chronicle the exchange between citizens as well.Scrapbooks of newspaper articles from the forties and fifties show both sides. The City Archives also has scrapbooks chronicling a later Bacon crusade against One Liberty Place, or any office building being taller than City Hall.

A1605: City Planning Commission Records Reports: Oversized
Comprehensive Plan for the City of Philadelphia, 1960 Richardson Dilworth, Mayor, Edmund N. Bacon, Executive Director City Planning Commission. The plan was prepared in accordance with Section 4-600 of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter. Citizen's Committee formed 1954. Important sections: The City and its History; General Concepts Introduction: all men available of city life, not just a fortunate few. Transportation--proposed Expressway and Arterial System; .Population Growth; The Economy: employment breakdown; space available for industry groups; Housing; Neighborhood--definition and size;District, the Community (three neighborhoods); the neighborhood.The development of greenways ( where private yards are small) important part of residential renewal.

Chart by City Planning Commission-March, 1960. Built Up Areas by Age of Development. Shows city growth before 1800, 1800-1849, 1850-1899, 1900-1919, 1920-1944, 1945-1960.

Washington Square East Unit 1-B
A Proposal for the Development of Washington Square East, Unit 1-B. Urban Renewal Area, Philadelphia. Prepared nfor the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia. Oct 1, 1958. Vincent Kling Architect.
Thinking about townhouse construction and apartment house construction in 1958.Shows townhouse floor plans post 1958 which is famliar today.Shows introduction of greenspace concept by courts (Powell Court) and also contemporary thinking about the relationship of indoor rooms and outdoor private gardens (reflective of Frank lloyd Wright's influence. The outdoors made the indoors appear larger.

Washington Square East, Unit 1-A
Turner Construction Company and John W. Galbreath Co. Supplement by Vincent G. Kling AIA Architect, October 1, 1958.

Protection from approaching blight of Independence Hall. Area ringed by Dock Street, Spruce Street, Third Street and Walnut Streets.Soceity Hill Towers, courtyards and rehabilitation of exisiting structures to reflect modern living.

16th annual report: Old Philadelphia Development Corp. April 1973.
The Old Philadelphia Development Corporation was formed in 1956 as a nonprofit organization to serve as coordinating link between public development programs and the private investment community. Original focus was providing a vital residential environment in Society Hill. Six standing committees determine policy directions for the Corporation. Four of them are Washington Square, Market Street East, Market Street West, Sourth Broad St--membership is drawn from business, civic, and resident interests.Penn's Landing --identified as the city's "Sixth Great Square". Penn's landing Corporation formed as public/private arm.

Plan for the Old City:
A Report to the Philadlphia City Planning Commission, April, 1960. First studied in 1937 a plan by the Committee of Municpal Improvements of the American Institute nof Architects, proposed a Mall north of Independence Square and a gree walkway linking the distinguished buildings east of it.Another plan presented in 1944 by the Independence Hall Association. Called also for development of green areas north and east of Independence Square and for the rehabilitation of the entire district east of Seventh Street , Pine Street to Race Street.

A-1606 City Planning Commission Reports 1930-1948

Outline History of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway 1871-1935. 1871-1935, March 1935. by W.S. Stanton, March, 1935.Fairmount Parkway location determined by axis drawn from City Hall Tower to fixed point in the Fairmount Reservoir. First thought about in 1900. Lists all ordinances. City Plan revision authorized June 8, 1909. Axis from center of City Hall to center of front fascide of Art Museum.

Philadelphia Plans Again.
The Story of the Better Philadelphia Exhibition. 1947 September, October 1947, 385,000 Philadelphians visited exhibit costing $340,000. Designed by architect Oscar Stonorov and planner Edmund Bacon to well city planning to layman.Scale model of how city looks now and then how it will look in 30 years with upside-down model showing change.Pitch made to each citizen that up to them for this to become reality.
Better Philadelphia Exhibition Scrapbook, September, 1947. Bernard Samuel, Mayor of Phila.

A-1609 City Planning Commission Reports 1950-51

The Dock Street Area: Philadelphia, PA. Urban Land Institute, Washington, D.C. January 18, 1951
Recommendations to the Dock Street Committee (includes concerned citizens and area merchannts) Greater Philadelphia-South Jersey Council and Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. Out door market main suggestion.

A-1613 City Planning Commission Reports

Press Comments on Philadelphia's Comprehensive Plan; Center City Plan
Philadelphia City Planning Commission-1960

Evening Bulletin, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, Germantown Courier, Mayfair Times, New York Times

Report: Citizens' Council on City Planning, 1717 Sansom Street.
Analysis of the Comprehensive Plan for the City of Philadelphia. Prepared by the Citizens' Council on City Planning, April, 1962

Role to disseminate information about the Plan to citizen groups throughout the City and to submit annually a critique for possible modification and improvement of the Plan.Feels should be alternate plans. Also, has concern about prediction of 50% growth in Center City Business by 1980. Feels more likely in suburban areas such as King of Prussia and Cherry Hill. Covers other points as well.

Review of the Comprehensive Plan of the City of Philadelphia by the Economics and Taxation Council
Chambre of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia

Concerned about cost.

The New City Government: How the Philadelphia City Government is Organized and Operated Under the Charter of 1951.
Published by The Bureau of Public Information and Service. Office of the City Representative

A-1914 City Planning Commission Reports 1963-1966

Report on the Annual Public Hearing 11 October 1966 Philadelphia City Planning Commission

The result of a suggestion from the Citizens Council on City Planning to hold a public hearing for interested citizens to express their views on the Northwest District Plan and also the Comprehensive Plan.As a result of the citizen councils in Chestnut Hill additional categery of under five dwelling units per acre created; conversion of single family dwellings to multipe families could only happen with a permit; and the groups were against increasing population densities near railroad stations. The Planning Cimmission, after extensive study, turned down the citizens suggestion to fill in the Manayunk Canal for more parking. The current proposal for a shopping center on the Morgan tract in Chestnut Hill was the result of citizen groups but the Planning Commission agrees with the community that the designated commercial be reduced to also include residential and commuter parking.

Regarding the Comprehensive Plan: Request that the Delaware River Waterfrong from Rhawn Street North to the City Line become a park.

Taking a Stand for Clean Water: The Story of the Formation of Fairmont Park

The formation of Fairmont Park was for safe water supply and recreation for the citizens of Philadelphia.


Fairmount from Lemon Hill, c.1815-38

Thomas Birch (1779-1851); oil on canvas.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection at the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia.

The area along the Schuylkill River had been a popular place since the 1700s for Philadelphia citizens to escape from the heat and smells of the city and to enjoy recreational pursuits such as picnics and rowing. Wealthy citizens built summer homes along the river. The Fairmount Waterworks and Reservoir completed in 1822 became a place of pride and the must-see place during a visit to Philadelphia. The wooden bridge spanning the river burned in 1838. Paul Beck’s Shot Tower is visible, located at 21st and cherry streets, is visible just beyond the bridge. Evidence of quarrying can be seen at the foot of the Fairmount. In 1855 the city government set aside land just north of the Waterworks to insure the purity of the water supply and to create a landscaped park. Three years later after acquiring additional acreage, the Councils adopted a plan for the development of Fairmount Park, the largest urban park in the United States.

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Section of Wooden Water Pipe, c.1820

Maker unknown; wood and metal.
Donated by the Philadelphia Water Department.

Workers excavating the Philadelphia Commuter Tunnel in the early 1980s unearthed this early water pipe, a hollowed section of tree trunk with a rusted metal ring. Wooden pipes were used only for a brief period in the early 1800s; by 1819 all new pipes were made of cast iron. Wooden water pipes were used in some parts of Philadelphia until 1930.


6. Taking a Stand for City Government Accountability: Ideas Behind the Creation of the Department of Records

The ideas behind the formation of various city departments such as the Record's Department, Department of Recreation, and Fairmont Park Commission are found at the City Archives. The records of the Bureau of Municipal Research and Pennsylvania Economy League contain many examples of how to make city government accountable.

The Bureau of Municipal Research is an agency of scientific inquiry organized in 1908 to increase the effectiveness of Philadelphia's government giving unbiased information about public affairs. The Bureau is under nonpartisan citizen control and is maintained by tax deductable voluntary contributions.

A-1595 Pennsylvania Economy League Bureau of Municipal Research Reports 1911-1947

1. Records showing steps in City Government Oranization.Consolidation 1854; 1st City Charter 1919 with formation by the State of City run School Systems. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were the first two.

Governmental Organization of the City, County and School District of Phila. Jan. 1924 (Preliminary). Transit Department formed.

Philadelphia's Government: An Organizational Chart and Description. 1924.

Philadelphia's Government: An Organizational Chart and Description. 2nd Ed. 1926.

Philadelphia Government, 1932: An Organization Chart and Description 1932
Third revised chart, first one issued in January, 1924.then 1926. Contains chart of City Government and more detailed descriptions of departmental functions.

2. Records showing Bureau of Municipal Research Reports making the City government services more accountable to citizens.

The Weights & Measures Situation in Philadelphia, March, 1911. The lack of standardization in 1911 and how to fix.

Storage, Handling and Sale of Food in Philadelphia: Food Inspection Service in Phila. 1916 Contains photographs of the deplorable conditions and suggested remedies.

Recreational Facilities and Negro-White Relations in Philadelphia. 1947 Summarizes poor house conditions and discriminatory employment treatment, also current playgrounds in black neighborhoods. West Philadelphia has none.A swimming pool in a black area is denied use by whites who threaten physical violence.

A 1597 Pennsylvania Economy League Bureau of Municipal Research Reports 1949-1952.

1. Records showing steps in City Government Organization

BMR, PEL and others: How to Modernize Philadelphia's Government (1948).
Great cover.Great summary of issues. Written by combination of citizens and elected officials. Agreed on four points: 1. City-County Consolidation: currently at department-head level only Receiver of Taxes is popular election.This will make county officials into city ones.2. Home rule granted to Phila by State Legistlature. 3. stablize debt limit by eliminating personal property values as the base and using an average of real estate assessments overe a period of years. 4. Consolidation of election machiners.

BMR: Progress in Public Improvements in 1947 and 1948. April 1949.

BMR: An Outline of Philadelphia's Government. October 1949.

BMR: Memorandum re: The Need for a Public Records Provision in Home Rule Charter. 3-14-1950.
The citizen's right for election records, marriage licenses, cost docket (prothonotary), controller, tax revisions, civil service, zoning, court records,vital statistics, juvenile court, orphans' court.Currently missing in the Charter. Must be added to the Home Rule Charter as availability of public records is every citizen's right.The only exceptions include: police official records, wage tax unit, health officials (the disclosure would be a violation of personal privacy; records of city solicitor regarding ligitation in process or antipated.The charter should contain a penal clause making it a misdemeanor for any public official or employe to deny access to records not excluded by law from public examination.A citizen denied this right may apply to the Courts of Common Pleas for an order making the records available to him.
PEL: Philadelphia Records and a Program for Administration for the Phila. Charter Commission. Aug. 1950.

BMR: Index to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter. 11 May 1951

PEL: Provisions of Home Rule Charter Creating and Governing the Department of Records. (ca. 1951)

Suggested Organization of the Department of Records under the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter (Sept. 1951)

PEL: Discussion of the Department of Records. Draft III. 10-27-1950.

Office and Storage Space in City Hall and City Hall Annex (Nov. 1951) Includes inventory of space needs by department.

A 1598 Pennsylvania Economy League Bureau of Research Reports 1952-56

1. Records showing Philadelphia Government Development.

PEL:Digest of Home Rule Charter: # 19: Department of Records. 1952
This records box contains a digest of each department formulated by the Home Rule Charter.
PEL: Confidential Report #2: Development of Records Management in Phila. July 1954.
Report states that as a result of money saved, forms consolidated, the State Govt is formulating a Records Department following Phila. model. The Economy League is a consultant.
Philadelphia Government 1956

2. Making City Government more accountable to citizens.

BMR: A Proposed Organization to Recomment Urban Traffic & Transportation Policy. 31 March 1953.

BMR Quiet Please!!!! Noise Abatement for Philadelphia. March 1954.

In 1947 a similiar report on the problem of air polution control was instrumental in creation of Phila. Air Polution Control Board. Later reports in this series dealt with ragweed control and rodent control where some of the reccomendations were implemented.

A 1600 Pennsylvania Economy League Bureau of Research Reports 1958-63

1. Records showing Philadelphia Government Development.

BMR-PEL: Philadelphia and Constitutional Revision. September 1960.

PEL: Historical Development of Local Government in PENJERDEL Region. December 1961
Excellent summary of thinking from 1638 to 1961.

PEL-BMR: Philadelphia Government 6th Edition, 1963

2. Making City Government more accountable to citizens.

A-1601 Pennsylvania Economy League Reports 1964-1980.

1. Records Showing Philadelphia Government Development,

PEL: History of Philadelphia's City Covernment. Report # 365. February 1973.

PEL Comments on the Proposals of the Philadelphia Charter Revision Commission: A Review of the 1973 Report of the Commission Proposing Amendments to the 1951 Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, Report 372, February 1974.

PEL: Philadelphia Government 7th Edition, 1980

2. Making City Government more accountable to citizens.

PEL-BMR: Toward a Cleaner Philadelphia # 359. March 1971.
Outlines what is required and its effectness.

PEL-BMR: The Gang Problem in Philadelphia. Report # 375. June 1974.
Presents scope of gang problem in Philadelphia and effectiveness of Philadelphia governmental programs and nongovernmental agencies.
Philadelphia Governmental Programs: Youth Work Program of the Department of Public Welfare, 1967-1973; Youth Conservation Services of the Department of Public
Welfare; Gang Control Unit, Juvenile Aid Division of Police Department; and Juvenile Branch of Family Court. Nongovernmental Agencies: Safe Streets, Inc.(founded by a group of citizens in 1969 under the District Attorney), Neighborhood Youth Resources Center; The House of Umoja (founded in 1968 by Founder-Director Falaka Fattah Goal was to establish a Black Boy's Town), West Philadelphia ; Philadelphia Committee for Services to Youth (also Network (hotline) and North Central Youth Academy( outreach, counseling and vocational training) North Philadelphia).

PEL-BMR: Special Assimilation Problems of Underprivileged In-Migrants to Phila. July, 1962.
Refers to assimilation problems of "In-migrants" from the South to northern urban areas and from Puerto Rico. 50% of Philadelphia's 535,000 non-white residents (1960 census) and about 70% of the 320,000 non-white residents 20 and over.In-migrant=Philadelphia resident born elsewhere.

A-1602 Pennsylvania Economy League Reports 1981-1987

PEL: Analysis of Policies to Help Low-Income Property Owners Cope. Report # 431. 1982
The needs of the elderly was the foundation for the study."Circuit Breaker" legistlation for income less than $12,000.Tax Deferral Programs.Homestead Exemptions or Credits, Tax Freeze at age 65.Installment payments extending over one year.

A 1603 Pennsylvania Economy League Bureau of Municipal Reports 1987-

PEL: Neighborhood Revitalization. Report # 529. 17 May 1988.
A Literature Review of Community Redevelopment and the Problem of Displacement.

PEL: Providing Permanent Housing for Philadelphia's Homeless, Report # 524. January 1988.

PEL: Productivity Scorecards for Philadelphia Municipal Services, Report # 523. 15 December 1987
Police and Fire Departments do not need to be increased. Sanitation Communication System need to be developed because currently neither PEL or Streets Department can estimate the effectiveness of the sanitation system.

Citizens' Business
Information leaflets for citizens about city government.Citizen's Business was published weekly except in July and August by the Bureau of Municipal Research.Began in 1932 as Philadelphia's Government.

"A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever",
April 23, 1956, no. 2,121 lighting and replace concrete with flowers and grass around City Hall.

"Pros and Cons of the Year-Round School" January 30, 1974, no. 2,419

"Charter Commission Revises Department Proposals", , Nov. 27, 1950, no. 1,947

"City's Finances, 1920-1949" Nov 20, 1950, n. 1,946

"Civil Defense Council Speeds Its Program" Nov. 13,1950, no. 1,945

"Expressways Planned: City Planning Commission's Annual Report Describes Proposed Expressway Systems", Nov 6.1950, no. 1,944. outlines expressways planned including Vine St extension, Delaware Exp., Schuylkill.

"Charter Draft Provides for Minority Representation", October 30, 1950, no. 1,943

"Proposed City Charter-VI: New Department Would Have Responsibility for Centralized Licensing and Inspection", October 16, 1950, no. 1,941.

"Proposed City Charter-V; "Proposed City Charter-IV; "Proposed City Charter-III;"Proposed City Charter II", "Proposed City Charter-I, September 11, 1950, no. 1,936
--a series of leaflets outlining changes in New City Charter.

"Interruptions Weaken Ragweed-Control Program", June 27,1950, no. 1,934.

"Public is Reminded 'Philadelphia Has FEPC',June 6,1950, no. 1,931.

"The Recall--Removal by the People" April 11, 1950, Philadelphia no. 1,923.

"Public Records Provision Needed in Charter" March 21, 1950; no. 1,920.

"The Cross-River Tide Keeps Rising", March 7, 1950, no. 1,918. commuters from subherbs.

"1932 versus 1949: City's Government Has Changed Since Bureau Issued Its 1932 Manual",January 17, 1950; no. 1,911.

"An Old Philadelphia Custom: Is Acceptance of Tips or Gratuities by Public Employes Justifiable?" January 24, 1950, no. 1,912.

"A Voice for the Minority", February 28, 1950; no. 1,917.

"Should Magistrates Be Lawyers? Philadelphia Not In Step, Few Large Cities Still Have Lay Judges", April 28,1958, no.2,161.

"Progress Report on Area-Wide Refuse Disposal Problem: Supplement", Nov. 2, 1954, no. 2,089S

" County Aid Now Available for Suburban Planning," Nov. 8, 1954, no. 2,090.

"More About the Proposed Charter Amendments" supplement, Febuary 15, 1954, no. 2,076S

"City-County Consolidation: Real Self-Government for Philadelphia Requires Passage of Bill Now in House Committee", May 7, 1951, no. 1,970

"It's Your Responsibility-Vote on April 17", April 9, 1951, no. 1,966.

"Question No. 1: Home Rule Charter Centralizes Administration, Yet Places Suitable Limits On Use of Power", April 2, 1951, no. 1,965.

"City-County Consolidation Two Amendments for Vote Nov. 6; One Would Merge Our City and County Governments", October 8,1951, no. 1,983.

"City-County Consolidation Amerndment for Philadelphia-On Your Ballot November 6, 1951", pamphlet, Bureau of Municipal Research, September, 1951.

"Speed Up Water Treatment", January 11, 1949, no. 1,867.

"Charter Changes Can Aid Popular Control-Complexity of City's Governmental Structure Helps Frustrate the Citizen", October 11,1949, no. 1,897.contains governmental chart showing government before Charter Changes.

"The Mayor's Annual Report:
A Step Forward-First to be Published in a Decade, It Is a Significant 'Public Improvement Project", first annual report published since 1938, This Is Your Philadelphia, 1949; September 20, 1949, no. 1,894.

"Framing and Adopting a New Charter", May 10, 1949, no. 1,884.

"Election Reforms That Worked", January 26, 1926, no. 714.

"Use and Abuse of the Water Works", March 2, 1926, no. 719.

A-2107 Scrapbooks: Bureau of Municipal Research

Scrapbook 1919: City Charter, Teachers

A-2108 Bureau of Municipal Research Scrapbooks

June, 1919; Nov. 1919: Discussion about vote for City Charter and effects on City.

A-2109 Scrapbooks: Bureau of Municipal Research

A-2110 Scrapbooks: Bureau of Municipal Research 1926-1938

January, 1929: Help of "Seventy" to purge police; City paid $4,000,000 over in income in 1928; Mayor Promises Contract Reforms; 5,000 ophans left without funds, 1932;
city-wide water meters needed, 1929

1932-38 Scrapbook

A-2111 Bureau of Municipal Research Scrapbooks 1938-1949

"City Water Rate Is Branded Unfair": large consumers pay lower rate than the small consumer.Record, January, 1939.
"New Water Supply Held Imperative", Inquirer, February 6, 1940.
"Citizens Group for Water Loan", Record, April 18, 1940.
"All Meter Water Service Urged", Bulletin, July 22, 1940.
"If It Costs Us $2,700,000 Extra in Soap, What Does Schuylkill Do To Stomachs?", Record, December 2, 1948.
"Protesting the Nuisance of Smoke and Soot in Philadelphia", photograph with citizen and city officials, Inquirer, September 21, 1947.

Taking a Stand Against Disease: The Fight for Clean Water and Better Sanitation

Disease pandemics have resulted in the citizens of Philadelphia taking a stand for clean water and better sanitation.

1918 flu epidemic.

On January 3, 1799, the Select and Common Councils of the City established a “Watering Committee” in response to citizen petitions. The committee was empowered to provide water citywide. Philadelphia was the first major city in the world to take on this responsibility.

Minutes of the Select Council for January 3, 1799.

Yellow fever epidemic.

The explosion of Philadelphia’s population between 1800 and 1860 due partially to the city’s consolidation with surrounding suburbs in 1854. Numerous industries sprang up on the banks of the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers. Water was untreated into the water system resulting in an outbreak of typhoid fever the end of the century. The large number of deaths prompted the City to adopt a filtration process for its water supply. Fairmount Park was created to protect the water supply.

Map of Fairmount Park, 1868.

Charts held at the Philadelphia Water Department showing the difference the introduction of filtration made in 1912 and the drop in typhoid fever deaths.

Rules governing the sanitary maintenance of privy vaults, 1915.

Privies at 2976 Emerald Street, 1919, photographic collection.

Mill Creek Sewer between 47th Street and Haverford Avenue, 1883, photo collection

Philadelphia Water Department. Citizen outcries resulted in encapsulation of sewers.

Plan of Pratt Street Sewer, 1901. Philadelphia Water Department photographic collection.

Little Tacony Creek, which once flowed through Frankford, had become an open sewer by the 1890’s. Citizen outcry in 1899 was met by a City plan to put part into a sewer that would run under a new street, Pratt Street.

Allegheny Avenue at Delaware River showing swimmers near open sewer, July 15,1918, photo collection.

Letter written with Schuylkill Water by a citizen to editor of Philadelphia Inquirer, 1896.

Philadelphia Water Department.
Citizen’s Groups Booklets, 1946 Annual Report, Bureau of Municipal Research, “Abandonment of the Schuylkill River as a Water Supply”.

Formation of Board of Health.

Citizens Taking a Stand for Civic Improvements: The Chestnut Hill Story

Citizens took a stand about the development of Chestnut Hill in the fifties. Returning veterans from World War II found the Chestnut Hill business district dead. They approached the City but Mayor Joe Clark said there was no money. Lloyd Wills formed the Chestnut Hill Development Group with the unified theme of pride in their own business district. The group raised their own money but created a business district in Georgian Revival losing a lot of original Victorian architecture.

City’s role reflected in: Building permits; L and I; Planning Commission Records.

Citizens Taking a Stand On the Behalf of Children.

Citizens have continuously taken a stand for the welfare of children.

35.138 Bond of Eugene Ketterlinus to support child of Barbara Heilig. 1 February 1848.

Guardians of the Poor; Bonds for Support of Illegitimate Children, 1811-1859.

The Guardians of the Poor also established Committees on Bastardy and Support. These two committees faced the ever-present problem of single mothers who were unable to care for their children without assistance. The Committee on Support, for example, determined the one responsible for child support, usually the father, and enforced support payments. Eugene Ketterlinus, later a noted lithographer, convicted by Quarter Sessions Court of being the father of a male child was ordered to pay his support to age seven.

Public –spirited citizens banded together to form societies for helping unfortunate children. One of the first was the Orphan Society of Philadelphia, established in 1814.

35.23 Guardians of the Poor, Committee on Children’s Asylum, Minutes, 1820.
Records Series 40.8 Walnut Grove, The Wharton Mansion
Edmunds, F.S., The Public School Buildings of Philadelphia, vol. 2; Record Series 40.8

Many examples of the private-public relationship between city departments and private agencies are also available at the City Archives.




































































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Click To Enlarge Click To Enlarge Image

8. The South Philadelphia Grievance: Citizens and Business Owners Taking a Stand to Remove Railroad Grade Crossings

When rails were laid in South Philadelphia, the City worked with the railroads to remove the grade crossings because of the complaints of citizens and business owners. The original placement of the rails in the mid 1800's hampered Philadelphia's growth by the end of the century. The Chestnut Hill, Norristown, and Manayunk lines were elevated as a result. The controversy continues today. Railroad grade crossings are a problem for citizens using the new Schuylkill bike trail.

The story is traced through the records of the Public Works Department established in 1887, Record Group 85. In 1925 the Public Works Department moved under the Bureau of Engineering that was in charge of the design and construction of bridges, and the abolishment of railroad grade crossings, formerly under the Bureau of Surveys. The Streets Department was established in 1952 under the Home Rule Charter,Record Group 88. It includes an engineering and survey division as well one for railroad grade crossings.The story is a clear example of city government working with the railroads, home owners and manufacturers to encourage economic growth.

CNL(City Council) Scrapbooks 62-65.

CNL 63. Newpaper clippings, 1913.
"Downtown Grade Crossings to Go: Belt Line Intact: City and Railroad Agree to Expend $18,759,000 on Vast Scheme of Port Improvement--To Reclaim Vast Acres of Waste Land--....Now Awaits Approval of City Councils to Become Effective," Inquirer, July 8, 1913.
....The greatest accomplishment of present administration (Mayor Blankenburg)....city officials and representatives of railroad companies reached an agreement for elimination of all grade crossings in South Philadelphia and providing a comprehensive development of port facilities.The grade crossings will be elevated and the pennsylvania, Baltimore and Ohio Railroads will operate four tracks along the Delaware river front or any extensions built as a "belt line" or "open gateway". Article summarizes each point of agreement.
"Vast R.R.Changes Will Practically Remake the City,""Chief Webster Plans a Model Home Section"--Head of Surveys.Map of grades abolished and proposed elevated railroad." A Great Port Promised," Inquirer, July 9, 1912.

A.653-A 656 Correspondence and letters of complaint: 1887-1923.

A-3054 Public Works South Philadelphia Grade Crossings
One outstanding Contract for Contract 208 (South Philadelphia Railroad Grade Crossings), October 10, 1923. #208 was completed May 26, 1923. This was for $10,170.45 to Acchione and Canuso Paving Company for paving street intersections along Delaware Avenue from Snyder to Bigler Street for South Philadelphia Track Elevation (#208).Shows breakdown of payment between City: 48.4%-$4,963.18; Penna RR Co.:24.4%-$2,481.59; and Balt. & Ohio RR Co.:26.8%-$2,725.68.

Miscellaneous #1 folder: contains letters from 1940's refering back to South Philadelphia Agreement of 1913 for payment for current repairs; also field drawings on scrap paper of various elevations.

Blueprint,The Pennsylvania Railroad: Delaware Extension and Girard Point Branch. Exisitng tracks to remain and existing tracks to be removed.

PRR Standards Ledger Book: breakdown of payments between City and railroad, drawings of rails, signs,etc.

Blueprint of progress, March, 1935. Includes elevation, tracks still to be removed, properties purchased along the Delaware

Map of area, 1930.

Agreement between City and railroads reflecting change of line( supliment to ordinance approved February 14, 1914. February, 25th, 1925: "25th St. elevated".Includes ordinance and signatures required when change is made.W. Freeland Kendrick, Mayor.
Another without signatures for "removal of tracks from Oregon Avenue," Dcember 21, 1925. Another "Extension of time in 1929".without signatures.

A. 3613, 85.5: DEPT. OF PUBLIC WORKS: South Philadelphia Grade Crossing Elimination 1913
South Philadelphia:" The Abolishment of Grade Crossings and the Creation of Opportunities for Commercial and Industrial Development",Department of Public Works, Philadelphia, 1913.

The first negotiation between the City and railroads for elimination if railroad grade crossings was in 1898. Nothing was accomplished and the City again approached the railroads in 1904. Again nothing was accomplished. The Southwestern Business Men's Association appealed Mayor Blankenburg, as well as the South Philadelphia Business Men's Association and various other trade and civic bodies to remove the Baltimore and Ohio tracks from Oregon Avenue. Economic growth and development were surverely hampered. In a statement by the Mayor, 4,000 acres or more would open up for building homes as well as manufacturing plants. Miles of improved water front on the Delaware Rver and the Schuykill and enlarged shipping facilities by land and water will be incentive to establish new industries and more jobs for the growing population.The report includes photographs of undeveloped land resulting from the railroad tracks cutting across.Editorial Comments to the Press are also in the report. Examples are: "Abolition of Grade Crossings in South Philadelphia $18,000,000 to be Expended, Public Ledger, July 8, 1913; "The South Philadelphia Agreement" The Evening Bulletin, July 8, 1913.p. 39. Also included are a copy of the ordinance and "Summary of Things to be Accomplished by the Ordinance and Agreement".

Department of Public Works Bureau of Surveys, City of Philadelphia, 1924. Specifications and Proposal authorized by Ordinances of Councils, Approved February 14, 1914 and November 14, 1922. Contract 209: bids mailed to City Hall, opened and read in Room 216, 11 o'clock July 23, 1924.

85.8: Dept. of Public Works: Agreement with PA Railroad. 13 July 1925.
Lists terms of the Agreement including construction of Pennsylvania Boulevard from 15th Street to the Schuylkill River, West River Drive, underground sewers. Folder also includes the Ordinance.

A-3147 : Public Works Department. Papers, South Philadelphia Railroad Track Elevation 1917-1929
Includes papers for Delaware Avenue also.

The abolishment of railroad grade crossings, in the short term, caused businesses and residents to be inconvenienced because of street closings, interruption of gas, sewer and water lines, and buildings demolished.

Contract No. 212: Removing Buildings and Other Obstructions, Constructing Sewers, Laying and Relaying Water Mains, Grading, paving and Repaving Roadways and Sidewalks and All Other Work--in Twenty-eighth Street between Jackson Street and Passyunk Avenue.Authorized by Ordinances of Council Approved February 14, 1914 and November 14, 1922.

Complaint letter by "Philadelphia Partition and Building Block Company, 28th and Ritner Streets, November 22, 1928. The City arranged access through the Philadelphia Gas Works property--May 7, 1929. The company retained an attorney-Ladner and Ladner Law Offices. Unless access remained a Bill of Equity against the City and contractor would be filed restraining them from proceeding with the work until access is provided.

Union Indemnity Company letter, February 4, 1930. Bond executed on behalf of F.A. Canuso & Sons in the amount of $215,000 for work done in 28th Street between Jackson Street and Passyunk Avenue.

Blueprint of section of elevated railroad tracks over Wharton St., May 10, 1929

Estimate No. 9 Final, Contract No. 212-Removing Buildings and Other Obstructions, Constructing Sewers, etc. in 28th Street between Jackson Street and Passyunk Avenue, appurtenant to the South Philadelphis Track Elevation, Francis A. Canuso & Son, contractor, amounting to $22,010.25. February 27, 1930.
Encludes letters of agreement from the Chief Engineer, Eastern Region, P.R.R.Co.;Chief Engineer, B.& O. R. R. Co.; Engineer in Charge, Grade Crossings, City of Philadelphia;Engineer of Construction, The Pennsylvania Railroad; and one letter each from The B & O R.R. and The Pennsylvania Railroad that the work completed meets their approval.

A-3148: Public Works, South Philadelphia Railroad Track Elevations 1917-1929

Contract No. 206: Blueprints of photos taken to reflect defects that were in the properties prior to the change of grade of 25th Street, Elsworth Street, Washington Avenue, Twenty-sixth Street and Gray's Ferry Avenue. February, 2, 1917.


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