Category Archives: Neighborhoods

The Bernsteins Move to Wynnefield

This is a continuation of the story of the Slifkin family, which had settled in Parkside in the early 1900s.  By the end of the 1920s, many upwardly-mobile Jewish families were leaving Parkside-Girard and moving to the Wynnefield neighborhood, nestled to the south of City Avenue.  Unlike the rambling (and increasingly outdated) Victorian mansions and […]
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Parkside Revisited: The Slifkin Family

To see my original article on the development of Parkside, click here. During the early 1900s, Parkside-Girard evolved from being an upper-class German and Protestant neighborhood to a middle-class Eastern European Jewish one.   The neighborhood’s first synagogue opened in 1907 at 3940 Girard Avenue.* Many of the Jewish families who purchased the large Victorian […]
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William H. Shoemaker Junior High School

“A school system that is not costing a great deal these days is not worth a great deal.” – The Centennial Anniversary of the Public Schools of Philadelphia: A Recapitulation, March 1918.   During the 18th and early 19th centuries, Philadelphia’s Quaker schools (Friends Select), and its Protestant church schools (Episcopal Academy) provided rigorous education […]
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The Germantown Cricket Club

Hidden behind a high brick wall stands a forgotten masterpiece of American architecture, designed by the same firm responsible for New York’s Pennsylvania Station and the Boston Public Library. The Germantown Cricket Club, a National Historic Landmark, is one of the few surviving structures in Philadelphia designed by McKim Mead & White. It is a […]
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Neighborhood Movie Theaters

Shawn Evans, AIA, Atkin Olshin Schade Architects Center City Philadelphia was home to the region’s most well known movie theatres.  Clustered in districts on Market, Chestnut, South, and North 8th Streets, these entertainment venues lined up along the sidewalks with blinking lights and glistening facades to draw in thousands of visitors to downtown.  An earlier […]
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Point Breeze

  Since the time of its beginnings in the late nineteenth century, Point Breeze has been a no-frills working class neighborhood.  It was first settled by Eastern European Jews, many of whom set up shops on Point Breeze Avenue and lived in apartments above their businesses. Italian and Irish immigrants soon followed.i Conditions were primitive: […]
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West Philadelphia: A Suburb in a City

When the University of Pennsylvania moved to its new campus in 1873, West Philadelphia was almost entirely rural. The University enrollment at the time was small and the student body almost entirely local. There would be no dormitories for another thirty years. Students either lived in rooming houses or commuted to campus from their parents’ […]
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An Irish Village in Philadelphia: Grays Ferry

The area now known as Grays Ferry was named after George Gray, who maintained a floating bridge across the Schuylkill in the mid-18th century. He also operated a well-known pleasure garden popular with Philadelphians who, according to one guidebook, “sought a few hours’ relaxation from the cares of business; near enough to court the visits […]
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The Lost World of North Broad Street

Mention North Broad Street today, and the image that comes to mind is one of desolation and decay. But in the late nineteenth century, this thoroughfare was a boulevard for the Gilded Age industrial rich. Rittenhouse Square might have been Philadelphia’s most prestigious residential address, but North Broad Street was arguably the most colorful and […]
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After the Fair: The Development of Parkside

  After the 1876 Centennial Exposition closed, all but two of the fair’s buildings, as well as the surrounding temporary hotels on Elm Avenue, were torn down. Even the Main Exhibition Building – its 21.5 acres of floor space made it the largest building in the world — wasn’t spared from the wreckers.i Only Memorial […]
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