Real Estate Advertising in Newspapers from 1880-1930

a study in Philadelphia

This page provides a look at how Real Estate was advertised before 1932. All examples come from the Philadelphia Inquirer as preserved on microfilm at the Free Library of Philadelphia. It was developed as a final project for CITY 306: Advanced Field Techniques at Bryn Mawr College.

This project was inspired by an interest in middle-level architecture. Historians and preservationists have been very interested in documenting the extremes of architectural and residential building histories; Tenements and other Low-Income Housing and High-End "Architecture-with-a-capital-A." What seems to be lacking is interest in the field of the middle class and the physical spaces that they occupied. As a way to begin investigation on this field, research on how Real Estate was advertised in a major city newspaper was undertaken.

Beginning in DATE the Philadelphia Inquirer listed a section of "Real Estate for Sale" in their Classifieds section of the Newspaper. The Classifieds appeared at the end of the newspaper, and the section dealing with Real Estate generally appeared near the end of that section. This section typically only had about NUMBER listings until DATE when it became more popular to advertise real estate in this way. The weekend editions, particularly Sunday, were significantly more popular for advertising housing and real estate. It appears that these advertisements were not generally placed by individual homeowners, but instead by what I imagine is the precursor to our modern-day Real Estate Offices like Prudential and Coldwell Banker. Once this section became more popular, before 1910, the "Real Estate for Sale" section of the Classifieds organized itself into more descriptive sections. Originally, around the turn of the century, these sections were City, Suburban, Farms, and New Jersey. As time went on the real estate was further divided by section of the city, and specific towns in the suburbs like West Philadelphia and Germantown for the former and Cheltenham and Darby for the latter. As time went on some of the neighborhoods previously described as "suburban" were classified within the City section and the Suburban section began listing places farther away from the City like Swarthmore and Wynnefield.



Click on one of the following links to be directed to the page that deals with Real Estate advertisement from that decade.

1880's, 1890's, 1900's, 1910's, 1920's, 1930's

Map of Philadelphia from 1898


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