artisans made luxury items for those with disposable income, they also served the general population with articles for everyday living. These examples are but afew of the contributions made by the city’s less-visible but still essential citizens. Although they are often lost to the history books, it has become more possible to reconstruct who these residents were and what they were doing in part by knowing where they were located.
During the 1790s, Philadelphia was the political, economic, and intellectual center of the nascent United States. The exploits of the city’s most famous denizens—Benjamin Franklin, George
Washington, and the like—fill both general history books and academic texts. However, the lesser-known and sometimes completely anonymous inhabitants of America’s first capital were equally responsible for Philadelphia’s standing as a world-class metropolis, the “Athens of America,” by some
Mapping Historic Philadelphia
Recreating Life In America's First City
Welcome to Mapping Historic Philadelphia. Over the coming months more maps and information will be added to our website. You can also visit The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia to learn more about this project.
accounts. Those with high social and economic standing (and in many cases, public visibility) may receive most of the credit for turning the wheels of government, the economy, and the society. However, laborers, mariners,washerwomen, slaves, servants, bakers,and shopkeepers—who formed over half of the city’s residents—kept the wheels from grinding to a halt. Meanwhile, physicians tended to Philadelphia’s health and also contributed to furthering its education. While