History of Manufacturing in Philadelphia

Thursday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m.

First Presbyterian Church in Springfield
Bethlehem Pike and East Mill Road, Flourtown

In the early years of manufacturing in Philadelphia, industry was centered in Old City. It later spread out to other areas such as Kensington, Nicetown and Manuyunk sections of the city. Jack McCarthy, author of In the Cradle of Industry and Liberty in Philadelphia, a History of Manufacturing in Philadelphia and the guest speaker at the Springfield Township Historical Society’s March 28 program, said that work was done in metalwork, chemicals and paint manufacturing. Work was also done in textiles and metalwork by shipbuildings and for locomotives. Manufacturing was broad-based in Philadelphia, whereas some industries were huge in some cities such as cars in Detroit and steel in Pittsburgh.

In his talk, McCarthy will follow the history of manufacturing from the city’s founding in 1682 until the present. In the early years, work was done in shops, such as candle-making,shoe-making and blacksmiths. As the population and city grew, the scale and scope of manufacturing grew. Among the industries in which Philadelphia was strong was the pharmaceutical industry, according to McCarthy. It was the home of the first drug mill, established in the 1810s, was the site of many drugmakers and related industries, such as chemical manufacturing research universities and hospitals. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Philadelphia was a power house.In the post-World War II area, it was less of a manufacturing city, he said.

McCarthy is an archivist and historian who specializes in music, business and industry, and Northeast Philadelphia. In addition to his 2016 book, In the Cradle of Industry and Liberty in Philadelphia, a History of Manufacturing in Philadelphia, he has written numerous essays for the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia.He curated the 2017–18 exhibit “Risk & Reward: Entrepreneurship and the Making of Philadelphia” for the Abraham Lincoln Foundation of the Union League of Philadelphia. He serves as consulting archivist for the Philadelphia Orchestra and Mann Music Center and directs a project for Jazz Bridge entitled “Documenting & Interpreting the Philly Jazz Legacy, funded by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.”

Mr. McCarthy plans to sell copies of his book, In the Cradle of Industry and Liberty in Philadelphia, a History of Manufacturing in Philadelphia, a publication of the Manufacturing Alliance of Philadelphia, at the program.

The Springfield Township Historical Society program is free and open to the public.