More than fifty years after his mayoral election and almost four decades after his death, Richardson Dilworth is remembered as the Philadelphia mayor who defended the city he loved. He convinced the city that it could succeed and that in order for it to thrive, people would have to fight for it. While campaigning, a man from the crowd challenged Dilworth’s emotional capacity to be mayor. “Yes, I am an emotional man, but I am a fighter,” he replied. “Where would the cities of this country be if it were not for men like me who fought for them?”
Together, Dilworth and Clark interrupted over six decades of Republican control of Philadelphia and commenced a reciprocal era in which the Democratic Party would be the majority in City Hall. The city has not had a Republican mayor since Clark was inaugurated in January 1952. Dilworth created a reputation for himself as an all-out liberal reformer, enthusiastically completing a system of urban renewal programs and development that would outline the Philadelphia of the 21st century. Dilworth’s legacy lives all over the city, from tourists at Independence Hall to commuters on the Market-Frankford line, from historic preservation in Society Hill to public housing communities, from city playgrounds to City Hall.