John Hepp, associate professor of history and co-chair of the division of global history and languages at Wilkes University, has recently published two new essays in The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. Both entries expand the encyclopedia’s coverage of transportation.
Hepp’s essay “Streetcars” follows the development of Philadelphia’s modern above-ground transportation system from horse-drawn streetcars to trolleys, PCC cars and buses. The article explains how the streetcar network expanded the city by enticing middle-class ridership, allowing middle-class families to settle in residential areas in west and lower north Philadelphia, and stimulating the rise of the city’s suburbs. It also discusses the streetcar network’s involvement in two civil rights movements in Philadelphia, first between 1859 and 1867 and again during the Second World War.
The “Public Transportation” entry is an overview for transit essays and explores the development and evolution of private ferry, railroad and streetcar networks during Philadelphia’s early years to the establishment of the city’s modern mass public transportation network. The essay discusses how public transportation physically expanded the city by encouraging middle-class families to settle in areas outside the city’s business district and expanded Philadelphia’s economic and cultural influence to rural areas and southern New Jersey. The article also discusses the political impact of the city’s economic expansion.
These entries are the final installment in a series of five articles on transportation that the editors engaged Hepp to write last year. Previously, he looked an “Omnibuses,” “Commuter Trains” and “Subways and Elevated Lines.”
Before joining Wilkes University in 1999, Hepp graduated with a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and practiced law for five years in Philadelphia. He then pursued a graduate degree in history at the University of North Carolina. Today Hepp teaches U.S. and world history courses at Wilkes. His research focuses on the effects of technological and economic change on everyday urban life from 1800 to the present. He has received numerous teaching awards from the University, notably the 2003 Carpenter Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Outstanding Faculty Award of Merit in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2012. Along with Dr. Mark Stine, he received Wilkes’s first Interdisciplinary Teaching Award in 2005. In 2008, Hepp and Stine collaborated to found the Wyoming Valley History Project.