Peter Binzen, a longtime journalist who covered Philadelphia for more than half a century and a 1962 Nieman Fellow, died in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on November 16 from complications of a stroke. He was 94.
Binzen spent more than 30 years as a reporter, columnist, and editor covering education and urban affairs at The Evening and Sunday Bulletin. After the newspaper closed in 1982, Binzen was recruited by his Nieman classmate, Philadelphia Inquirer executive editor Gene Roberts, to join the Inquirer as a business columnist. He spent the rest of the career there, even continuing to write for the op-ed page after he retired in 2003.
Born in Montclair, New Jersey in 1922, Binzen attended Yale University, taking leave to fight with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division in Italy during World War II. He graduated from Yale in 1947, launching his journalism career as a freelancer before joining The Evening and Sunday Bulletin in 1951.
Binzen also authored a number of books. He started researching his first book, “Whitetown, USA,” as a Nieman Fellow, receiving a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to explore blue-collar residents of Philadelphia’s industrial Kensington neighborhood. It was published in 1970. Other books include “The Wreck of the Penn Central” (1971) and “The Cop Who Would Be King: The Honorable Frank Rizzo” (1977), both co-written with Bulletin colleague Joseph R. Daughen, and “Richardson Dilworth: Last of the Bare-Knuckled Aristocrats” (2014), co-written with his son Jonathan P. Binzen.
Binzen is survived by his son and three daughters, as well as nine grandchildren.