Industry left in the past as city grows

PHILADELPHIA. Filiberto Carnevale is a dying breed.

With more than 30 years under his belt making meat — and in recent years, cleaning up cutting floors at Dietz & Watson’s Tacony factory — the Holmesburg man remembers the good old days when Philadelphia was a town of slaughterhouses, processing plants and factory jobs.

“When I started 37 years ago, everything was done by hand,” Carnevale said in a thick Northeast accent made raspy by years of yelling over food processing machinery. “Now, so much is mechanical and so much more is done.”

For every remaining manufacturing job like Carnevale’s, who got his start at Dietz & Watson after he was recommended by a couple cousins, nine manufacturing jobs have disappeared since 1969, according to figures by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

Only a handful of large factories like Tasty Baking Company in Hunting Park and Amoroso’s Baking Co. in Tacony remain from the city’s industrial roots of the early 20th century.

“You’re seeing a restructuring of the basic economy of Philadelphia,” Drexel Professor Richardson Dilworth III said. “The city has moved to more high tech service industry as has the United States overall.”

But some do believe a resurgence of manufacturing is not out of the question, Dilworth said.

“There’s some minimal sense that manufacturing in Philadelphia could make a comeback if rising energy costs make living in city living more sensible and cost effective,” he said.

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