Category Archives: Neighborhoods

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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The Callowhill Neighborhood

  Located north of Center City, the Callowhill neighborhood is bordered roughly by the Vine Street Expressway to the south, Spring Garden Street to the north, 8th Street to the east, and Broad Street to the west. The neighborhood takes its name from Callowhill Street, which runs east-west through the center of the neighborhood. Originally […]
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Immigrant Jewish Philadelphia: School Days

  Going through photographs on PhillyHistory.org, I was struck by the number of photos showing Philadelphia public grade schools from years ago, most now torn down although some still remain. These photographs show the construction of new schools during the period of heavy immigration into the country at the end of the 19th and beginning of […]
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The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia

Years ago, cities and towns in Europe had Jewish quarters. Most were finitely defined. When the east European Jewish immigrants began coming to the United States en masse, Jewish quarters sprung up in cities along the eastern seaboard. Some were loosely defined, others more precisely. In the early years of Jewish mass immigration, a fairly […]
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Rittenhouse Square

  Originally named Southwest Square and later renamed after David Rittenhouse, a famous Philadelphian astronomer, Rittenhouse Square is one of five original open-space parks planned by William Penn. Although it is now one of the most fashionable public spaces in Philadelphia, the park was not always a popular gathering place for the city’s residents. In […]
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