The Latest Installment of Sam Katz’s Philly Documentary Airs Tonight

“Disorder,” about a contentious time in Philadelphia history leading up to the consolidation of the city in 1854, airs tonight at 7:30 on 6 ABC.

Sam Katz Philadelphia The Great Experiment Disorder

A screenshot from the latest installment of Sam Katz’s Philadelphia: The Great Experiment series. “Disorder” covers the years between 1820 and 1854.

Sam Katz has been making his documentary series, Philadelphia: The Great Experiment, for years now. He even used Kickstarter to raise money to fund it. Which is good, because it’s quite the interesting Philadelphia history series: Rather than just documenting the American revolution and the early days of the country — the typical setting of Philly history bits — Katz’s series focuses on the entire history of the city.

The next installment airs on 6 ABC at 7:30 p.m. (Take that, Wheel of Fortune fans!) Titled “Disorder,” it covers the years between 1820 and 1854.

A lot happened in that era! The city was so much smaller than it was today, as the city had not yet consolidated with the county. (In fact, in 1820 Philadelphia was the second-largest city in the country, with Northern Liberties the 7th largest and Southwark the 8th largest. Washington, D.C., was 9th.)

With the slave trade flourishing in Maryland and Delaware, the emancipation movement and the Underground Railroad were likewise flowing in Philadelphia. Anti-abolitionists clashed with abolitionists. Catholic and protestant laborers banded together to strike for better working conditions, then saw their alliance fracture. “Conflicts over slavery, religion, space, and jobs led to riots and racial and ethnic violence,” Katz writes in a synopsis of the episode. “Philadelphia became the Wild West. Bloody. Conflicted. Uncontrollable.”

The episode airs tonight at 7:30 p.m.

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