“Philadelphia: City of Homes” is a Beautiful Look at the City’s Homes

 By Grace Hackney

"Philadelphia: City of Homes” by David S. Traub features every unique element that makes up Philadelphian home architecture. This book showcases every neighborhood in Philadelphia in the best ways possible. When it comes to the city of Philadelphia, I find that some people tend to criticize certain aspects of our city rather than focusing on the beautiful elements of our city. Traub does a great job of showcasing the pleasantries that make every Philadelphia neighborhood remarkable. 

The foreword of the book was written by Bruce Laverty. He briefly talks about the history of home architecture in Philadelphia and explains the reasoning behind the different styles of homes in various neighborhoods. Visitors and Philadelphians are mainly going to see more row homes and brownstone homes downtown and larger standalone homes in neighborhoods such as Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy. This is because in the 18th and 19th century, wealthy people would build large houses in those neighborhoods and leave downtown for the summer for vacation. This information prior to the contents of the book gives you great context on Philadelphia’s architecture as you flip through the pages. 

Written in the introduction by Traub, he states, “Philadelphians want to live in a home. That is the thesis of the book.” I love that he mentions this to better differentiate Philadelphia from other major cities like New York and Chicago. Traub mentions that Philadelphia is not a city of apartments. Even though apartment buildings in Philadelphia have been increasing in recent years, he emphasizes that Philadelphians like to own homes.

When reading through the book it was nice to see areas that I was familiar with and even houses I’ve walked by before. I never truly observed some of the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, but Traub highlighted them in a way that I now notice a house or area that was featured in the book whenever I stroll by it. You could say that was Traub’s goal, and he did his job well. 

Traub truly captured the beauty in every neighborhood. From the crowned bay windows and traditional Dutch architecture in Tioga, to the French Provence style houses in parts of West Philadelphia, you will learn to enjoy every element of Philadelphia’s architecture.