Suburb in the City: Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 1850-1990

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Ohio State University Press, 1992 - History - 353 pages
2 Reviews
In Suburb in the City, David Contosta tells the story of how Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, once a small milling and farming town, evolved to become both a suburban enclave for wealthy Philadelphians and a part of the city itself.
In 1854, the railroad connected Philadelphia and Chestnut Hill and the village was annexed by the city. Attuned to the romantic currents of the age, the wealthy men and women who moved to Chestnut Hill believed that the village's semi-rural surroundings might uplift them physically, spiritually, emotionally, and morally. At the same time, they wanted to continue to enjoy the best that the city had to offer while escaping from its more unpleasant aspects: dirt, crime, disease, and other shortcomings. They thus cultivated a dual identity with both suburb and city.
Ironically, this led to a sense of division as prosperous suburbanites held themselves aloof from the resident shopkeepers and domestic servants who provided so many of their creature comforts. Being a suburb in the city also meant that Chestnut Hill could not control its political destiny, as communities outside the municipal limits could. In response, residents developed a number of civic organizations that became a sort of quasi government.
Contosta's study of Chestnut Hill thus illuminates the divided and often ambivalent feelings that Americans hold about their great cities. He includes anecdotes gleaned from dozens of interviews with men and women of many backgrounds - lawyers, nuns, debutantes, grocers, craftsmen, and former servants - who tell of their lives in Chestnut Hill. More than one hundred photographs, many never before published, further enliven this analysis of suburban America.
  

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Review: SUBURB IN THE CITY: CHESTNUT HILL, PHILDELPHIA, 1850-1990

User Review  - Mindy - Goodreads

Learned a lot, but overall, thought the pace was slow and the text repetitive. Read full review

Review: SUBURB IN THE CITY: CHESTNUT HILL, PHILDELPHIA, 1850-1990

User Review  - Chris - Goodreads

I was lucky enough to have Dr. Contosta as my instructor for three history course during my undergraduate years. This is a good book for anyone who lives in Philadelphia. Read full review

Contents

Chestnut Hill boundaries
12
Abraham Rexs great store
15
Joseph Middletons Monticello
30
Philadelphia County just before citycounty consolidation
40
Romantic illustration of Wissahickon Creek
44
Gothic Revival house at 52 Summit St
57
North Chestnut Hill
65
Mower General Hospital exterior
66
Aerial view of the Philadelphia Cricket Club
153
Germantown and Chestnut Hill Improvement Association
164
Women sewing for the National League for Womens Service
176
Indian statue at Indian Rock Wissahickon Creek
182
John and Lydia Morris in the Morris Arboretum
188
Advertisement for Chestnut Hill Title and Trust
195
Aerial view of the Morgan Tract
202
The Market Square Shopping Center
208

Our Mother of Consolation Roman Catholic Church
73
Woodward Houston properties
79
Henry Howard Houston
81
Early building of the Philadelphia Cricket Club
88
Twin house 300 block of West Springfield Ave
94
George Woodward in the Pennsylvania state senate
100
Quadruple house commissioned by George Woodward
106
Boxly residence of Frederick W Taylor
122
Gillies Fish Market
128
Residential zones
130
Intersection of Highland and Seminole avenues
134
Our Mother of Consolation Roman Catholic Church
141
John Story Jenks Public Elementary School
147
Market Square Chestnut Hill Village
210
Campaign poster for Richardson Dilworth
214
Aerial view of Germantown Ave
220
Robertsons Flowers 85018507 Germantown Ave
226
Planting a ginkgo tree in front of the Gulf Oil station
229
Nancy Hubby and Shirley Hanson
246
Road systems
252
Top of the Hill after redevelopment
259
Chestnut Hill in context
266
Thacher Longstreth with Virginia Duke and Wilson Good
275
Mike Hogan and Vivian White
290
Copyright

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Page 336 - E. Digby Baltzell, Philadelphia Gentlemen: The Making of a National Upper Class (Glencoe, 111.: Free Press, 1958), 118 and 206.

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About the author (1992)

David R. Contosta is Professor of History at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. His previous books include Suburb in the City: Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 1850-1990 (1992), A Philadelphia Family: The Houstons and Woodwards of Chestnut Hill (1988), America in the Twentieth Century (1988), and Henry Adams and the American Experiment (1980).

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