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Philadelphia Renewal

February 2024
1min read

In “Unexpected Philadelphia,” John Lukacs states, “The Independence National Historical Park project rose together with the reconstruction of Old Philadelphia that was the work of civicminded Philadelphians themselves … in what is known as Society Hill.… the rebuilding and repeopling of a long-decayed and abandoned portion of Philadelphia that now is not only teeming with tourists but pulsating with everyday life.”

Not so. The Society Hill area, which by the end of World War 11 had declined into rows of neglected warehouses and cheap rooming houses and retail stores, was redeemed by the federally assisted urban renewal program created under the Housing Act of 1949. Philadelphia was one of the first American cities to request such aid, and tens of millions of dollars were poured into Society Hill and a number of other projects, to subsidize the removal of blight and deterioration and make possible rebuilding and renovation.

These remarks are not designed to denigrate the efforts of Philadelphians, which were considerable, but to set the record straight on the coniributions of the national urban renewal program to local efforts for the reclamation and revitalization of cities all across the U.S A

I know. I was Director of Public Information for the Urban Renewal Administration during its most active and productive years, 1961 to 1968.

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