Cities of the Commonwealth Project

Daniel J. Elazar introduced the concept of civil community to explain the comprehensive political system that serves cities and their surrounding areas. A functioning civil community includes a variety of political institutions, including formal governments and governmental agencies, non-profit organizations serving the public interest, local political parties, and interest groups. The civil community provides a wide range of activities and services for its residents that are influenced and determined by local expectations and demands. In short, the local political system is able to shape government services and activities to meet local needs. Elazar’s The Cities of the Prairie (1970) introduced the civil community model comparing and contrasting political, social, and economic developments in ten medium-size Midwestern cities. Along with a team of researchers Elazar revisited these cities every twenty years over a forty year period (1960–2000) and published two more studies.

I am currently a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Federalism ( which was founded by Daniel Elazar. The Center is providing me with a grant to replicate Elazar’s model of civil community by studying six cities in Pennsylvania. The articles will be published in 2020 in a Special Issue of Commonwealth: A Journal of Pennsylvania Politics and Policy which I will be editing. We also hope to publish an expanded version of the project as an edited volume.

This page is currently under construction. However, it will provide resources for studying civil community in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Association of Council of Governments

Economic Development Districts in Pennsylvania

Lehigh Valley Planning Commission

Southwestern Pennsylvania Planning Commission

Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

Tri-County Regional Planning Commission

Data Sources

Demographics by County and Municipality (including income distribution in bar charts) from PA Department of Community and Economic Development.

Municipal Financial Data (including tax revenues, expenditures, debt and intergovernmental transfers (from PA Department of Community and Economic Development.

Pennsylvania State Data Center: data dashboards on socioeconomic status, education, etc. for PA municipalities and counties.

Workforce Development Area Profiles: employment and industry information for economic development areas in PA.

St. Louis Fed: employment and economic data for Pennsylvania counties and MSAs.

Cleveland Fed: data on Pennsylvania.

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia