Wealth makes all the distinction of classes in Philadelphia.
Duc de la Rochefoucault-Liancourt, 1783
The house of a workman stood here in the late 1700s when Philadelphia was the temporary capital of the United States. Its location is marked by the brick square in front of you. The house had only two rooms and an attic, each on top of the other. Houses like this often served as both residence and workplace.
A shoemaker, a turner, a coachman, a tavernkeeper, and a coppersmith —each in turn—lived here during a ten-year period. Like eight of ten Philadelphians, they rented rather than owned their own houses.
Today the house is gone, and few traces of its occupants remain. Their belongings were inexpensive and commonplace, things easily discarded. No one wrote their biographies. Rarely did their names stand out in history. Yet they made up the vast majority of Philadelphia's population.