Struggle over the Streets: Industrialization and the Fight over the Corporate Control of Street Space in Philadelphia, 1830–1860

Between 1830 and 1860, Philadelphia's streets became the focus of a series of physical and legal disputes as new infrastructure technologies transformed the streets from a social to a corporate space. Early in the nineteenth century the city gave its residents control and responsibility for the streets creating what amounted to an urban commons. In the 1830s, city ordinances and state charters gave the companies building large infrastructure technologies like streetcar systems and telegraph lines rights to the streets. These new laws effectively made street space a corporately owned public space. Many residents of Philadelphia resisted these changes and their resistance highlights the incompatibility of residentially and corporately controlled public space.


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  • Accession Number: 01494725
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 24 2013 3:00PM