A Brief HistoryRoger D. Simon
Understanding Philadelphia’s history requires that we understand that nothing is inevitable; history is not made by abstract forces, but by the decisions of real individuals as they conduct their lives. With its insightful analysis and engaging prose , Philadelphia provides an accessible and readable overview of the history of the Quaker City from its founding by William Penn to the deindustrialization and gentrification of the early twenty-first century. Roger Simon asserts that the history of Philadelphia is a story of the efforts to sustain economic prosperity while fulfilling community needs, and the continued tension between those priorities.
Philadelphia devotes considerable attention to the evolving physical development of the city and to the social conditions and class structure of the people. Three dozen maps and illustrations enrich this edition, which has been fully updated and revised to reflect new scholarship on Philadelphia’s role in the post-industrial present and the diverse communities that incorporated women and minorities into the economic and social fabric of the city.
Published in association with the Pennsylvania Historical Association
"Philadelphia: A Brief History covers a long chronological span and maintains a fine focus on a broad array of themes and concerns. Its synthetic ambitions are great, and Simon succeeds in fulfilling them to an impressive degree. In particular, the book’s method of balancing and combining economic, political, civic, social, and built environment histories highlights their influences on one another and Philadelphia's broad historical sweep. Philadelphia also does a stellar job of distilling complex scholarly treatments of various subjects into a reader-friendly style. This revised and updated edition is a wonderful achievement."
—Peter Siskind, Assistant Professor and Chair of Historical and Political Studies at Arcadia University
"It fills a profound need for a Philadelphia history of this kind, and it’s likely to be the go-to brief history for this generation.... Simon’s writing is pellucidly clear, and the text is graced by several well-chosen illustrations and photographs, as well as a few instructive population tables at the end of the book."
"As a narrative, Professor Simon’s work here is invaluable. The writing is done well and the footnotes are an asset for anyone studying or teaching Pennsylvania history."
— H-Net's H-Pennsylvania
"The depth and breadth of research are impressive..... Written in a clear and accessible style, the book addresses various fundamental questions about the socioeconomic role of complex processes, such as suburbanization, underlying the historical evolution of Philadelphia, and the role of people and places in shaping the environmental, political, and resulting policy debates. Philadelphia is an essential reading for the lay reader, students, and scholars of economics, geography, politics, and urban studies and planning." —Economic Development Quarterly