Photography exhibit explores city's past

    A new photography exhibit in Old City is exploring Philadelphia's industrial past and present. The show revolves around a book published 150 years ago when the city was dubbed the "Workshop Of The World."

    A new photography exhibit in Old City is exploring Philadelphia’s industrial past and present. The show revolves around a book published 150 years ago when the city was dubbed the “Workshop Of The World.”

    Listen:
    [audio: 090807pcindustry.mp3]

    The book is as dated as its title. “Philadelphia and its Manufactures” is a kind of love letter to a long-lost past. Photographer Jacob Hellman stumbled upon it in the public library and was charmed by its moxie.

    Hellman: It’s hilarious, first a long introduction why Philadelphia makes the clocks. People say New York makes the best clocks but in fact we make the best. It’s this whole phase of history quickly getting forgotten.

    Using the book as a guide, Hellman photographed old industrial sites that are still active in Philadelphia, sometimes appropriated by young do-it-yourself crafters.

    Philadelphia’s industrial economy has been dropping for decades, so the City Planning Commission is re-zoning downtown neighborhoods. North of Chinatown for example, several old factories and warehouses are being converted into residential lofts.

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