cover of book

Becoming Philadelphia: How an Old American City Made Itself New Again
by Inga Saffron
Rutgers University Press, 2020
eISBN: 978-1-9788-0065-6 | Cloth: 978-1-9788-0063-2 | Paper: 978-1-9788-1707-4
Library of Congress Classification NA2543.S6S228 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 720.974811

Once dismissed as a rusting industrial has-been—the “Next Detroit”—Philadelphia has enjoyed an astonishing comeback in the 21st century. Over the past two decades, Inga Saffron has served as the premier chronicler of the city’s physical transformation as it emerged from a half century of decline. Through her Pulitzer Prize-winning columns on architecture and urbanism in the Philadelphia Inquirer, she has tracked the city’s revival on a weekly basis.

Becoming Philadelphia collects the best of Saffron’s work, plus a new introduction reflecting on the stunning changes the city has undergone. A fearless crusader who is also a seasoned reporter, Saffron ranges beyond the usual boundaries of architectural criticism to explore how big money and politics intersect with design, profoundly shaping our everyday experience of city life. Even as she celebrates Philadelphia’s resurgence, she considers how it finds itself grappling with the problems of success: gentrification, poverty, privatization, and the unequal distribution of public services.

What emerges in these 80 pieces is a remarkable narrative of a remarkable time. The proverbial first draft of history, these columns tell the story of how a great city shape-shifted before our very eyes.
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