Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City

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Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City delves into one of America’s greatest and yet least understood cities to reveal the physical and cultural intricacies of place, from the intimate to the monumental. 

Written by Hidden City Daily co-founders Nathaniel Popkin and Peter Woodall, and photographed by one of America’s most lauded architectural photographers, Joseph E.B. Elliott, the book explores Philadelphia’s vivid layers and living ruins. Rather than a nostalgic elegy to loss and urban decline, Finding the Hidden City connects Philadelphia’s particularly accretive form to its idiosyncratic history, culture, and people. 

The journey here is as much visual as it is literary thanks to Elliott’s striking photographs of 34 remarkable places in Philadelphia, from workshops and factories to sporting clubs and societies, synagogues, churches, theaters, and railroad lines. Some of these sites are vacant while others are still full of life.

Locations include abandoned--or partially abandoned places such as Richmond Generating Station, John Grass Wood Turning, Germantown Town Hall and Holmesburg Prison. Some are secret spots within well known buildings such as City Hall, Founders Hall at Girard College and the Wanamaker Building, while others are vibrant yet little known to most Philadelphians, places such as Stortz & Sons Tool, Wayne Mills, the Wagner Free Institute of Science, Shiloh Baptist Church and the Undine Barge Club

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Temple University Press; 1st edition (October 13, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 1439913005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439913000
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.7 x 10.5 inches



Joseph E. B. Elliott is Professor of Art at Muhlenberg College, and an Instructor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. He is the author of The Steel: Photographs of the Bethlehem Steel Plant, 1989-1996, and (with Aaron V. Wunsch) of Palazzos of Power: Central Stations of the Philadelphia Electric Company, 1900-1930.  Nathaniel Popkin is co-founder of Hidden City Daily and senior writer of the documentary film, Philadelphia: The Great Experiment. He is the author of Song of the City: An Intimate History of the American Urban Landscape and The Possible City: Exercises in Dreaming Philadelphia, as well as a novel, Lion and Leopard. His literary criticism appears in the Wall Street Journal and other publications.  Peter Woodall is a former newspaper reporter and producer for public radio. He co-founded the Hidden City Daily and is the project director of Hidden City Philadelphia.

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