After the Civil War, immigrants continued to arrive in the city and by 1870, 27 percent of the population was foreign born. By the 1880s, immigration from Russia, Eastern Europe, and Italy rivaled immigration from Western Europe. In 1881 there were around 5,000 Jews in the city and by 1905, the number grew to 100,000. The Italian population increased from around 300 in 1870 to 18,000 in 1900, and the majority settled in South Philadelphia, which remains an Italian stronghold. In 1876 there were around 25,000 blacks in the city and by 1890, this number was near 40,000. During the 1880s, the people moving into the city were mostly poor, working-class immigrants, and the wealthy were beginning to leave. The suburbs along the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad just west of the city became a popular destination, and the area remains one of the wealthiest and most elite in the region today.
Over the course of the late 19th century, industry grew in the modern metropolis despite a great deal of political corruption and setbacks. Philadelphia  became a city of homeowners, distinct from cities like New York and Chicago, where large groups of people rented tenements. The city developed to include row after row of single-family homes, which provided affordable housing for the middle class. The police department improved and volunteer fire companies were finally replaced by a paid fire department. Education reforms were implemented that served to protect the education system from corrupt politics. Opportunity for higher education improved when the University of Pennsylvania  moved to West Philadelphia and Temple University, Drexel University, and the Free Library were all founded.
One of the biggest events in the history of the country took place in Philadelphia in 1876. The Centennial Exposition was a World’s Fair held in Fairmount Park to celebrate the United States’ Centennial. Nine million people came to the city over a six-month period to take part in the carnival atmosphere and to see the landmark science exhibits, including Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone and the Corliss Steam Engine. Millions of dollars went into planning the incredible event, but unfortunately many of the buildings constructed for it were left abandoned with no real purpose once the fair ended.
Other major developments of the growing city included the construction of City Hall  at the center of the city at Broad and Market Streets. The architectural marvel took 23 years to complete, and for 100 years, was the tallest building in Philadelphia . An unofficial agreement kept it the tallest building until the 945-foot One Liberty Place snatched that crown in 1987, soon to be followed by seven other skyscrapers.
Another key element to the city’s growth was the Pennsylvania Railroad, which expanded westward to connect Philadelphia with the entire East Coast and the Midwest. This was also the era when major department stores including Wanamaker’s and Strawbridge & Clothier came to the city. As automobile use increased, new roads and bridges were built, including the Northeast (Roosevelt) Boulevard in 1914, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 1918, and the Delaware River (Benjamin Franklin) Bridge—which connects the city with Camden, New Jersey—in 1926. New skyscrapers were built and wired for electricity, and the first subway was constructed in 1907. The Philadelphia Museum of Art  opened in 1928. The city was growing in every way imaginable.