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Read Vague’s An Illustrated Business History of the United States, for a deeper understanding of:

America’s emergence as an industrial powerhouse, its outsized innovations, the dominance of its railways, automobiles, and other transportation companies, and the ever-changing role of government.

The contemporary era— the merchandising of comfort, entertainment, and controversy.

The potential of emerging industries such as genetic engineering, green energy, and virtual reality.

Buy the book


Save the date: 12/4

Our Ideas We Should Steal Festival is coming up!

Join us

At our upcoming events

Next up:

Wednesday, October 27, 6–7pm, Fitler Club Gallery, 2400 Market Street

In the first of a year-long speaker series on—literally—building a better, more inclusive and prosperous Philadelphia, we will explore the boom happening in University City and discuss how it can create positive impacts citywide. A reception will follow the discussion.

The panel, which combines experts in the fields of education, technology and innovation, includes:

John Fry, President, Drexel University

Jeff Marazzo, CEO, Spark Therapeutics

David Adelman, CEO, Campus Apartments

Della Clark, President and CEO, Enterprise Center

The discussion will be moderated by Center City District’s Prema Katari Gupta. A reception will follow.

ABOUT REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT FOR GOOD: For decades, real-estate developers have had an outsized effect on the trajectory of growth in Philadelphia. And now a new generation of visionaries, deal-makers and builders are following suit, driven by the merging of social impact and bottom-line imperatives. The Philadelphia Citizen’s Real Estate Development for Good is a year-long speaker series that smartly delves into the economic and cultural difference that enlightened and intentional real estate development can make in our city.


Watch: History of U.S. Business with Ali Velshi and Richard Vague

Two of America's greatest thinkers on business and the economy joined us for a Citizen Speaks event last week at Fitler Club. See what you missed.

Watch: History of U.S. Business with Ali Velshi and Richard Vague

Two of America's greatest thinkers on business and the economy joined us for a Citizen Speaks event last week at Fitler Club. See what you missed.

When businessman/philanthropist Richard Vague went searching for a non-academic book that linked the threads of America’s business history together he discovered what, to him, was missing: There existed no coffee table, illustrated history of U.S. business.

So Vague, Philadelphia’s foremost renaissance man, wrote one himself. His An Illustrated Business History of the United States covers some 200 years of economic ups and downs in America, from inequities to glories to more inequities and more glories. It is, perhaps surprisingly, a rousing collection of anecdotes and images.

Last week, Vague talked about his new book with MSNBC anchor and Citizen board member Ali Velshi, at a Citizen Speaks event powered by Fitler Club, where the breakfast conversation was held. The two compared notes on America’s stunning patterns of growth and reinvention. How was it that, within little more than a decade after the nation’s founding, America’s economy dwarfed those of European countries? What does our history of ingenuity and economic diversity portend for our future? How can we recapture the American dream for millions of Americans who feel left behind? And what role does government play in our capitalist system?

“Average Americans have a legitimate claim that nobody is reaching out to help them. They say the Republican Party helps the wealthy; the Democratic Party helps the disadvantaged. That’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s also kind of true,” Vague said, adding later that despite claims to the contrary, “Government has always been deeply involved in economic and business matters…since the American Revolution.”

Find out how, and what else we can learn from the vagaries of the American economy, in the video below—and pick up a copy of Vague’s book from our event partner Head House Books.

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