538 Beth Heinz


From roughly 1880 through the 1920s, Philadelphia’s industrial districts supported an array of mills and plants whose diversity has scarcely been matched anywhere in the history of manufacturing. When the U.S. Census charted some three hundred categories of industrial activity, surveys of Philadelphia showed firms active in nearly ninety percent of them. No city had a wider range of textile products, for example, as Kensington, Germantown, Frankford and Manayunk churned forth laces, socks, carpets, blankets, rope and cordage, men’s suitings and women’s dress goods, silk stockings, upholstery, tapestries, braids, bindings, ribbons, coverlets, knit fabric and sweaters, surgical fabrics, military cloths and trimmings, draperies, and yarns of every description. At the turn of the century, roughly seven hundred separate companies operated in textiles alone, employing some sixty thousand people. Yet this immense workforce amounted to only one quarter of the city’s industrial workers. Unlike New England centers that often focused on a single sector (for Massachusetts, textiles in Lowell, Lawrence, Fall River and New Bedford, paper in Holyoke, shoes in Lynn), Philadelphia could and did do nearly everything across the spectrum of transforming materials into products.


(excerpt from www.workshopoftheworld.com)