Monthly Archives: March 2014

Walking West Philly with Joe Washington (Part 2)

Note: this is the second part of “Walking West Philly with Joe Washington.”  To read part one, click here.  When Joe Washington was a young man in the 1970s, Hawthorne Hall was a gathering place for Powelton and Mantua.  Its second floor auditorium hosted dance parties and boxing matches. Now, the orange brickwork is battered. […]
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Big Band Jazz in Philadelphia

Broad Street’s former Pearl Theater was the site of a historic moment in 1932. Bennie Moten and the Kansas City Stompers, key parts of the Big Band Jazz movement in the first half of the century, played so well that, according to The One O’Clock Jump by Douglas Henry Daniels, the crowd demanded encore after encore, […]
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John Avena and South Philadelphia’s “Bloody Angle”

As he liked to tell it, John Avena had friends at 7th and Carpenter Streets. Thing was, Avena, aka “Nozzone,” aka “Big Nose John,” was a Sicilian-born gangster who’d eventually head up the Philadelphia mob. And if he didn’t have friends exactly, Avena had allies at the old 33rd District police station. Avena’s interests would […]
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Walking West Philly with Joe Washington (Part 1)

“West Philly hasn’t lost its soul. It’s still a melting pot. It’s had its share of ups and downs. New people from all over are bringing a new vitality to it.” Joe Washington and I met for lunch at the Hamilton Restaurant on the last day of winter.  It’s a narrow, old-fashioned diner at 40th […]
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A century of Philadelphia parties

By Brady Dale. With Spring set to usher in the city’s inexhaustible festival season, we can’t help but dream about gathering with friends, neighbors and acquaintances. Big parties are an anchor of any city and Philadelphia has a long, proud history of them. From the dozens of legendary Fourth of July’s to the annual Mummers […]
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“City Abandoned” may be the title, but Vince Feldman is no fence-hopping hipster

Over the years, Vincent Feldman has lovingly made 100+ photographs of Philadelphia at its worst. When he asked me to write about them for his book, City Abandoned, I agreed—happily. And the result, officially published yesterday by Paul Dry Books, is quite beautiful. It’s interesting to compare what Vince photographed, alongside what’s here at PhillyHistory.org. […]
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Edmund N. Bacon’s Pitch for Center City’s Revival: Form, Design and The City

After hammering away at Philadelphia’s entrenched pessimists for more than a decade, city planner Edmund N. Bacon finally got the breakthrough he’d been looking for. In the middle of the 20th century, in the midst of decline, Bacon dared to envision a revived Center City: a modern, appealing and prosperous place to live and work. […]
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