But they probably didn't. Quick transformations of any kind are very rare for the people on the bottom.
The most memorable wide-scale upheaval resulted from the massive "urban removal" projects of the '50s. Thousands of people who had lived between 32d and 40th Streets and Market Street and Lancaster Avenue were displaced by bulldozers that turned their little row houses into big rubble-strewn lots.
Some of those lots are still vacant, which tells those people all they need to know about how much the city really cared about them. It gave the term ''down the bottom" new meaning.
But it also hardened their remaining neighbors to the realities of life in a city where the people who count don't count them.
That's why it's so hard to sell snake oil around there - they've heard it all before.
And it probably has a lot to do with why most of the few hundred Mantua residents who bothered to show up last Monday greeted President Bush's shiny motorcade with blank stares.
It was a gathering of the mildly curious. People leaned languidly over the yellow police barricades. Crowd control outside the new community center at 35th St. and Haverford Ave. was the easiest police assignment in the city.
It's not that people in Mantua don't care about the president. It's just that some of them think he doesn't care about them. Where do they get these ideas?
So a lot of the people who stood outside the center listening to the president's speech on loudspeakers flashed knowing smiles at each other.
They had seen this drill before at election time or some other rare occasion when important officials just happen to drop by.
For days leading up to this big presidential put-on, people had seen street sweepers rerouting the refuse with pushbrooms and washing down the sidewalks.
"See honey," mothers must have told their small children, "Years ago, men used to sweep the streets like this all the time."
"Wow, Mommy!," the youngsters must have wondered "What were they looking for?"
Some had trouble keeping a straight face as the president and Mantua's home-grown drug warrior, Herman Wrice, talked about a drug-free Mantua.
Wrice has gained a lot of fame and has had some success by kicking in the doors of crack dens and daring their drug-dazed denizens to confront him.
Predictably, people who hadn't confronted anything as menacing as a bar of soap and a toothbrush in days were reluctant to face the frightening specter of a 250-pound man in a hard hat, with a sledgehammer in one hand and a bullhorn in the other.
They moseyed along a few blocks to places where people are free to blow their brains out in peace.
"You can buy all the drugs you want to buy right up the street," a man dressed in white told a camera crew on the corner of 36th and Haverford.
A West Philadelphia community activist said the same thing Wednesday night at a meeting of community leaders and media officials in Congress Hall.
It's not that Herman Wrice and his drug fighters haven't been effective.
They are making it a little tougher to sell crack in the neighborhood. And every little bit counts.
It takes people as bold and bodacious as Wrice - backed by police and by neighbors who are as fed up as most of Mantua's good people are.
People in Mantua already know it will be largely left to them to run the crack dealers out.
But they also know that quick transformations are very rare for the people down the bottom.