“An American Hometown” looks at how Perkasie survived many challenges that affected other towns in Pennsylvania through the World War II period.
Perkasie’s story is divided by two eras, with the postwar Baby Boom year of 1946 as the bright line marking the difference between them. The first book in this series mostly concentrates on the era between 1871 and 1945, which defined a big part of Perkasie’s culture.
Starting in the Victorian age, people from other parts of Bucks County and Philadelphia came to Perkasie searching for jobs, and it soon became their own adopted hometown. The North Pennsylvania Railroad and later the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad provided freight and passenger service to Perkasie, with its depot functioning as a regional hub for various products and manufactured goods. The Lehigh Valley Traction Company’s addition to Perkasie in 1900 brought cheaper trolley transportation to the area, along with much-needed workers to town.
The collapse of the cigar-making business after 1918 presented Perkasie with its next great challenge. Perkasie survived this economic blow by becoming a regional retail destination with a downtown area featuring clothing stores, grocery stores, three hotels, gas stations, and shops within walking distance of the train and trolley stations. The former cigar workers switched to clothing, textile, and manufacturing jobs or joined retail businesses.
In 1940, Perkasie had recovered from the Great Depression and had its best financial year since 1925, boosted by military contracts for its manufacturers. However, World War II would present another major challenge to Perkasie and have a significant long-term effect on it. Sacrifice was a part of everyday life, with much of its population fighting in the war or involved in the war effort.
After August 1945, life would not return to normal in Perkasie, and the “new normal” would be much different in the post-World War II world.