As the documentary series Philadelphia: The Great Experiment demonstrates, Philadelphia is a city unique in America in countless ways: a palimpsest of history since its formal founding by William Penn in the 17th century. Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City, due from Temple University Press later this year, unpeels and restores the layers of this palimpsest. I wrote about a few of the more recent layers in May. It was written by Nathaniel Popkin (who also contributed to the documentary) and Peter Woodall, and photographed by Joseph E.B. Elliott. “The book marks out the elements of Philadelphia’s hiddenness through its vivid layers and living ruins,” goes its description here:
Quite unlike books of urban loss that lament or celebrate decline, Finding the Hidden City connects Philadelphia’s particularly accretive form to its idiosyncratic history, culture, and people. By laying out these connections the authors develop an alternative theory of American urbanism to contrast with the better-understood narratives of New York and Los Angeles. The journey here is as much visual as it is literary; Joseph Elliott’s striking photographs the reveal the elemental beauty of Philadelphia never before seen.
The book is now available for pre-order from Amazon here. And don’t forget to check out the documentary series, launched in 2011 and now nearing completion. Episode one — which covers the region’s pre-history, from the Lenni Lenape’s enjoyment of the region to settlers (and opportunists) from Holland, Sweden, and finally England — is below.