The period after the Second World War saw one reality—the River—begin its slow change toward the positive, from open sewer to scenic playground. At the same time, however, the reality of Transportation turned decisively against the old river towns. Once fully integrated into the rail network, they found themselves isolated from the new network of limited-access highways. Some still are, but Norristown/Bridgeport will, within a few years, gain a new connection. That connection will lead directly to the now clean river and its banks, now denuded of industries. Opportunity awaits there.
The story of fundamental change to the River and to Transportation takes place largely after the Second World War. But the fundamental reality of People was the first to turn negative, back in the early decades of the 20th century. The First World War and then a reactionary U.S government virtually shut off the massive flow of immigrants to the United States that had characterized the late 19th century. By the late 1920s, a new immigration structure was in place, which attempted to freeze the numbers of each ethnicity that could enter in the future. This ended the waves of immigrants that had filled the Schuylkill River towns (among many others) during the 19th and early 20th centuries.