Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Southwest Philadelphia

painting of the cannonball house

In 1715, Swedish settler Peter Cock chose to build his farmhouse in the swampy, mostly uninhabited land that later became Southwest Philadelphia. After a Revolutionary War bombardment, it became known as the “Cannonball House.” This painting is by Thomas H. Wilkinson, who visited Philadelphia in the late nineteenth century. (Private Collection, Philadelphia)

Southwest Philadelphia, which along with adjacent Tinicum Township, Delaware County, is the location of the Philadelphia International Airport, greets many visitors to the city. Yet, Southwest Philadelphia, often described as “far” Southwest, is quite possibly the least-known area of the city, even to Philadelphians. Kingsessing, as this vicinity was originally named, was the first section of Philadelphia settled by Europeans and in the twentieth century came to national attention as the Eastwick Urban Renewal Project. Since the early twentieth century, when this seemingly remote location in the city became useful for an airport and other industrial activities, the possible contributions of Southwest Philadelphia to the metropolitan economy have often overshadowed the needs of neighborhood residents.

Southwest Philadelphia is the southern portion of the city lying west of the Schuylkill River. The northern boundary is roughly marked by Baltimore Avenue, Fiftieth and Forty-Ninth Streets; on the west by Cobbs and Darby Creeks, which separate Philadelphia and Delaware Counties; on the south by the Philadelphia International Airport, and on the east by the Schuylkill River. Southwest Philadelphia encompasses the city’s Fifty-First and Fortieth Wards and includes the neighborhoods of Kingsessing, Elmwood, Paschall, and Eastwick; below Seventy-Fourth Street, Eastwick is known to residents as “the Meadows.” Large nonresidential tracts are occupied by the Heinz wildlife preserve, the Philadelphia International Airport, industrial parks, the Southwest Sewage Treatment Plant, and, adjacent to the Schuylkill River, tank farms and oil refineries.

This landscape includes the lowest-lying land within the city, some of it below sea level. The southernmost portion was at one time crisscrossed by a network of creeks.  Mud, Hog, Carpenter’s, Minquas (Mingo), Province (later State), and Boon’s Islands were some of the largest of the Schuylkill River delta islands indicated on early maps. These well-watered meadowlands produced luxuriant grass and weeds for grazing livestock and fertile soil for plowing without the arduous task of removing trees, explaining their attraction for early European farmers.

Europeans Arrivals

Kingsessing, from a Delaware Indian word most frequently translated as “a place where there is a bog meadow,” became the center of Swedish occupation in 1643 when Governor Johann Printz (1592-1663) moved the Swedish headquarters to big Tinicum Island. The Swedes built two forts in lower Kingsessing to control the final leg of the Great Minquas Trail (Island Avenue), used by the Susquahannock (Minquas) beaver traders traveling  from the Susquehanna Valley to the Schuylkill River. The Dutch and then the English claimed this vicinity—and the valuable beaver trade. William Penn created the township of Kingsessing, corresponding approximately with the later Fortieth and Fifty-First Wards.

Upper Kingsessing provided a convenient link between Philadelphia and points south, while lower Kingsessing seemed more remote. In 1696, the King’s Highway (later Darby Road) was laid out from Gray’s Ferry (the Lower Ferry), becoming the main artery from Philadelphia to Baltimore and the southern colonies. During the Revolution, an extension through William Hamilton’s estate, the Woodlands, linked the road (renamed Woodland Avenue) with the Market Street Ferry. Penrose’s Ferry from lower Kingsessing to South Philadelphia was not established until 1742, when a pest house (quarantine hospital) was constructed on Fisher’s Island (renamed Province, then State Island) to isolate contagious diseases. This ferry was finally replaced with a bridge in 1853; the fourth bridge, constructed in 1949, was renamed the George C. Platt Bridge.

photograph of Fort Mifflin's commandat's house

Commandant’s House, Fort Mifflin. (PhillyHistory.org)

During the War for Independence, Mud Island, adjacent to Province Island, became the site of a significant battle in the Philadelphia Campaign. In November 1777,  the British wrested control of the island’s Fort Mifflin from American defenders. The victory helped the British to secure the Delaware River, allowing supply ships to reach Philadelphia.

The imperial struggles punctuating the early history of Kingsessing gave way to a peaceful agricultural landscape of farms and country estates for the next century. Limited industrial development occurred in isolated pockets adjacent to throughways and the larger creeks. Cobbs Creek provided water power for the Passmore Textile Mill on Woodland Avenue. Paschalville, laid out in 1810, was inhabited by the mainly British immigrant mill workers. At mid-century, the entire township contained only about 1,800 residents. Just after the Civil War, the Angora Woolen Mill and a small village were established just below Baltimore Pike.

Slow-Growing Kingsessing

The 1854 Act of Consolidation incorporated Kingsessing Township as the Twenty-Seventh Ward of Philadelphia but made little difference: Kingsessing, as it was still called, remained the slowest-developing section of the city for several more decades.  Even the Philadelphia Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad linking Philadelphia to Baltimore through Kingsessing prior to consolidation did little to foster growth. The rural landscape made accessible by the railroad did encourage sporting activities, though.  In the 1860s, the Suffolk Park Race Track and Hotel, with races reported in the New York Times, was established adjacent to Bell Road Station, the sole station in southern Kingsessing. In the next decade, the Belmont Cricket Club was located in the northern part of the ward. The Pennsylvania Railroad had closed the Bell Road Station by the time investors began subdividing tracts below Seventy-Second Street in the 1880s.

Perhaps Kingsessing is most important in American history for its famous garden nurseries and seed farms, which also benefited from the combination of a rural landscape and a railroad. Street names such as Botanic, Bartram, Dick’s, Lyon’s, and Buist commemorate this important local economy. In the eighteenth century, John Bartram (1699-1777) created what became the oldest surviving botanic garden in the United States. Railroad industrialist Andrew McCalla Eastwick (1811-1879) purchased the house and garden as a private park for his own country house, designed by Samuel Sloan.  

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Helendale Nurseries established by John Dick (1814-1903) included thirty greenhouses with more than 100,000 square feet of glass. The most famous Kingsessing nurseryman, Robert Buist (1805-1880), created one of the first great nurseries in the United States at Rosedale. Buist was the center of a trans-Atlantic horticultural exchange and is also credited with introducing the poinsettia to the United States from Mexico. One of his books, The Rose Manual (1844), was the first American gardening book devoted to roses.   

This horticultural economy was made possible by the growing numbers of wealthy Americans who established country estates, as well as the rural cemetery and urban park movements. Mt. Moriah, located in Kingsessing and Yeadon, Delaware County, became the third of Philadelphia’s great cemeteries, along with Laurel Hill and the Woodlands.

Industries Move to Southwest

aerial photograph of Hog Island, 1915

This aerial photograph of Hog Island in 1915 provides a sweeping view of the equipment required to maintain the Southwest Philadelphia shipyard. (Library Company of Philadelphia)

Southwest Philadelphia saw sustained residential and industrial development from the 1880s through the 1920s. Consequently, Ward 40 was made a separate ward before the turn of the century. In the 1890s, several important industries moved to Southwest.  Joseph Fels built the Fels Naptha (laundry soap) factory on the site of the old Passmore mill. The J. G. Brill Company in Kingsessing and Baldwin Locomotive, which relocated from Spring Garden to adjacent Delaware County, both employed thousands of local residents.

Immigrant and native-born workers followed the opportunity for industrial employment. Irish, German, Lithuanian, Polish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants built detached and semidetached dwellings, often purchasing extra lots for large gardens.  Once families located in the area, they tended to stay for generations. Below Seventy-Fouth Street, some truck and pig farms survived into the mid-twentieth century. The northern area just below Baltimore Pike developed in the first two decades of the twentieth century as home to native-born and northern European immigrants who worked in West Philadelphia or commuted to Center City. This more densely developed residential area was eventually separated from Ward 40 as the city’s Fifty-First Ward.  As neighborhoods developed, trolley-served Woodland Avenue became an important retail district.

More dramatic changes were wrought by World War I, when the federal government authorized the American International Shipping Corporation to build Hog Island, the world’s largest shipyard. The site virtually became a town, with barracks to house almost 15,000 male workers. New railroad and trolley tracks transported an additional 20,000 workers and materials to and from the shipyard. The war initiated a significant demographic change: White and black southern families found wartime an opportunity to move out of the South. In 1920, black residents accounted for about 25 percent of the population of about 10,000 (excluding Hog Island dormitories) living below Seventy-Fourth Street at a time when black residents accounted for about 27 percent of the total population of Philadelphia.

Greater Eastwick Improvement Association

The shipyard, closed in 1921, brought Southwest Philadelphia to the attention of City Hall in the competition for funding of transportation and municipal services. Real estate developer David E. Triester named the Fortieth Ward Eastwick and created the Greater Eastwick Improvement Association (GEIA) to obtain more comprehensive municipal services. Seeing the lesson of Hog Island, GEIA leaders, supported by the Southwest Globe Times, tied their future to the city when they successfully lobbied for a Southwest airport rather than a Northeast or Camden facility. Charles Lindbergh dedicated the new Southwest airport in 1927, but the muddy landscape proved challenging; for more than a decade the airport was moved to Camden.  In the 1930s, Mayor S. Davis Wilson negotiated with the federal government for the Hog Island Shipyard site to bring the airport back to Southwest.  Works Progress Administration workers filled in the area and built runways as part of Philadelphia’s share in the New Deal.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the GEIA less successfully and more controversially publicized the need for modern sewage systems and additional diking along the surviving network of creeks after several hurricanes seriously flooded homes and businesses. Some  residents contended the association’s publicity created negative views of the area and discouraged investment in modern sewage facilities. Despite this, more residential development occurred in the 1920s than in the three previous decades. The 1920s building boom was so extensive that by the early 1930s sociologist William Weaver predicted the Tinicum Marsh would disappear. By that time, though, Philadelphia residents evicted from houses and apartments in other areas of the city erected shacks in the still largely undeveloped lower marshy areas.

After World War II, the Fortieth Ward once again gained public attention, some of which resulted in improved infrastructure—but not for longtime residents.  In 1954, Philadelphia’s Mother of the Year, Jennie Harley Cook, was a homemaker from the Meadows (below Seventy-Fourth Street). Just a few years later, though, Harley and her family along with thousands of other Southwest families received eviction notices when Eastwick was condemned as a slum. Lack of modern sewage services and Depression-era shanties were featured in official city publications and city newspapers. The Philadelphia City Planning Commission had envisioned a “New Eastwick” to support the developing post-industrial service economy. In 1950, the Eastwick Urban Renewal Project began when much of Ward 40, about 3,000 acres, was declared “blighted.” Plans to reduce residential and farm use included creating space for an East Coast highway (I-95, which crosses the Schuylkill  over the two-tiered Girard Point Bridge) and a hub of transportation and light industry centered on an enlarged international airport. The long-projected Southwest Sewage Treatment Plant was finally constructed as, despite residents’ protests, neighborhood demolition began in 1960.

Ongoing Challenges 

Following the demolition, light industrial parks, shopping centers, and some replacement housing were built, but large tracts remained vacant. In 2002, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission certified a forty-block area of Kingsessing as “blighted.” Squatting and gap-tooth syndrome (empty lots between dwellings) had become common, and environmental problems continued to plague many residents, especially in the lower area. Despite the 1997 opening of SEPTA’s Eastwick Station and the relocation of Philadelphia’s main post office to Eastwick, in 2006 the entire Eastwick Urban Renewal Area was recertified as a blighted district. 

In the decades at the turn of the twenty-first century, Southwest Philadelphia faced serious challenges to neighborhood stability, leaving high crime and vacancy rates in an area formerly characterized by high levels of home ownership and middle class apartment houses. Most Southwest neighborhoods experienced an overall decline in population after 1990, but they developed greater diversity—and racial tension—with an influx of new immigrant groups, primarily West African with some new Vietnamese and Hispanic residents.          

The Elmwood neighborhood experienced some of the most serious racial tensions in the city in recent decades. This area was predominantly home to Polish and Irish American families centered on Roman Catholic parishes, but the disintegration of the manufacturing economy left many unemployed. In 1985, when two houses were sold to an African American family and an interracial couple, some white neighbors reacted violently, destroying property with axes and arson. Mayor Wilson Goode declared a state of emergency. Between 1990 and 2000 the white population of Elmwood decreased by almost 70 percent, while the African American population increased. Vietnamese and West African immigrants added to the racial picture. In 2008, John Bartram High School was placed in lockdown when a fight between African American and African students turned into a school riot.

Eastwick Stability

Eastwick, with a longer history of diversity, has not seen the dramatic population shifts of other neighborhoods, though African American residents now account for 76 percent of the residents. Eastwick residents have higher average education levels and homeownership rates than many other neighborhoods in Southwest, perhaps providing more economic and social stability for residents. 

Eastwick residents, however, contend with worsening environmental justice issues compounded by episodic flooding, the consequences of incomplete redevelopment, and controversial plans for the future development of vacant areas. Environmental problems, always a challenge in this low-lying vicinity, have worsened with changing land use. Tinicum Marsh, once reduced to about 200 acres, was preserved by a 1972 Act of Congress because it contained the last remaining freshwater tidal marsh in the state.  Renamed the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, it encompasses 1,000 acres. But periodic flooding has increased since much of the vicinity was rezoned for industrial use. Large vacant tracts have attracted illegal dumping of hazardous substances that seep into the ground.  Cleanup of former industrial sites has not always been conscientious. In the 1990s, environmental problems caused by nearby oil refineries led to a partly successful lawsuit for improvements to protect local residents. The airport expanded and became the cornerstone for planning development. Thus, the struggles of Southwest Philadelphians to achieve livable family neighborhoods continued in the early twenty-first century.

Anne E. Krulikowski holds a Ph.D. in American history with a concentration in material culture/preservation from the University of Delaware.  She teaches at West Chester University.


Copyright 2014, Rutgers University

Related Reading

Bjelopera, Jerome P. City of Clerks: Office and Sales Workers in Philadelphia, 1870-1920.  Urbana, Ill.:  University of Illinois, 2005.

Downing, Andrew Jackson, Ed. The Horticulturist, 1846-52.

Krulikowski, Anne.  “A Workingman’s Paradise”:  The Meadows Neighborhood in Southwest Philadelphia.”  Two Volumes.  Unpublished Dissertation, History Department, University of Delaware, 2000.

——-.  “ ‘Farms Don’t Pay’: The Transformation of the Philadelphia Metropolitan Landscape, 1880-1930.” Pennsylvania History 72, No. 2 (Spring 2005):  193-227.

——-.  “ ‘A Workingman’s Paradise’: The Evolution of an Unplanned Suburban Landscape.” Winterthur Portfolio 42, No. 4 (Winter 2008):  243-85.

McKee, Guian. “Liberal Ends Through Illiberal Means:  Race, Urban Renewal, and Community in the Eastwick Section of Philadelphia, 1949-1990.” Journal of Urban History, Vol. 27, NO. 5 (July 2001):  547-83.

Myers, Jack. Row House Days: Tales from a Southwest Philadelphia Neighborhood Childhood. Philadelphia: Infinity Publishing, 2005.

——-.  Row House Blues: Tales From the Destruction of Philadelphia’s Largest Catholic Parish. Philadelphia: Infinity Publishing, 2006.

Paxson, Henry D. Where Pennsylvania History Began: Sketch and Map of a Trip from Philadelphia to Tinicum Island.  Philadelphia:  Henry D. Paxson, 1926.

Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia Research Initiative. A City Transformed: The Racial and Ethnic Changes in Philadelphia Over the Last 20 Years. June 1, 2011.  www.pewtrusts.org

Philadelphia City Council, Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities. Public Hearing, October 9, 2012. Testimony on Behalf of Clean Air Council, Clean Water Action, Darby Creek Valley Association.

Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Philadelphia 2035, District Plans for Lower Southwest and University Southwest. 

——-. Eastwick Blight Recertification. March 2006.  

Scharf, J. Thomas and Thompson Westcott. History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884. Three Volumes. Philadelphia:  L. H. Everts, 1884.

Weaver, William Wallace. West Philadelphia: A Study of Natural Social Areas. Thesis. University of Pennsylvania. 1930.

Wysong, Matt. “Planes, Drains, and Automobiles:  A Case Study of Urban Renewal in Eastwick.” 2005. www.phillyskyline.com, accessed May 23, 2014.

Collections

Philadelphia City Planning Commission Records, Philadelphia City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Publications and Reports, 1949-1970. Philadelphia City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia.

 Urban Archives, Special Collections Research Center, Samuel L. Paley Library, Temple University,1210 Polett Walk, Philadelphia.

 Subdivision Plans, Department of Streets, Bureau of Surveys & Design, Sevent Survey District, 6448  Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia.

Places to Visit

Fort Mifflin, Fort Mifflin and Hog Island Roads, Philadelphia.

Bartram’s Garden, Fifty-Fourth Street and Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia.

John Heinz at Tinicum National Wildlife Refuge, 8601 Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia.

St. James of Kingsessing, 1762, oldest church west of the Schuylkill River, 6838 Woodland Ave., Philadelphia

Mt. Moriah Cemetery, vicinity of Sixty-Second and Kingsessing Streets, Philadelphia.

Neighborhoods in Southwest Philadelphia

Eastwick

Kingsessing

Elmwood

Paschall

The Meadows

Clearview

Penrose

19 Comments Comments

  1. Thank you for this information, I enjoyed the post very much. Holbrook Street and Shields Street were my homes for a number of years.
    Patterson and Tilden were my schools.

    Ruth Cooper Posted July 26, 2014 at 1:34 pm
  2. Excellent overview. Having grown up in what I always think of as the center of Eastwick (Island Road and Eastwick Avenue), I can attest to the strong sense of community that existed there in the 1940s and 1950s before destroyed by the best laid plans of the, perhaps (and perhaps not), well intentioned urban planners. So far as I can tell, these geniuses proved one thing: Harmonious neighborhoods cannot be engineered. They evolve out of the relationships between the people who live in them. In the Meadows, those were good — real good — until urban renewal. By the way, the one subject conspicuously omitted from the discussion here is all the corruption involved. The Redevelopment Authority had something like 400 million federal dollars to complete the project and build “A city within a city.” Back then, that was a lot of money. It was more than enough to do the job. Instead of doing it, once everyone was evicted, the rules of the game changed. I can assure you that an accurate accounting of the 400 million will not result in the conclusion that former residents were paid that much when being kicked out of their homes. Do the math. Divide the number of pre-existing homes by 400 million and see if you come up with the average price paid for each house.
    You’ll find the shortfall lining the pockets of politicians, bureaucrats, organized crime hustlers, realtors and developers with sweetheart deals.

    Tom Rubillo Posted July 27, 2014 at 11:22 am
  3. I grew up in the historic, industrial heartland of SW Philly, across the street from a paint factory. in the 40’s and 50’s. Every day in the summer I would watch the mixoligists stop at Marty Mannions saloon at 54th and grays for a shot and a beer and head down the street to the factory. At lunchtime they would retrace their steps back to Mannions for fortification and go back to work. One day an old mixologist stopped to talk to me. I told him ” When I grow up, I want to work in his paint factory “.
    His reply changed my life. He said… ” Hey kid youse don’t want to work in that toilet. Study hard and get yourself a good education “. So I did and along the way married a beautiful girl from the meadows 50 years ago. Thank you M.A.B. paint company. I owe you a lot.

    ray daley Posted November 19, 2014 at 10:45 pm
  4. We lived on the 5800 block of Willows Avenue. My 6 sisters and I all graduated from John Bartram High School. Our home was lovely….3 story row house with hardwood floors throughout. I had a wonderful childhood in that neighborhood and have so many great memories.

    Sarah Ralph Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:11 pm
  5. A great synopsis of the history of the area. Informative and apparently well researched. We should do an article on my neighborhood and Parish – Our Lady of Loreto

    Michael Posted April 5, 2015 at 8:37 pm
  6. My husband’s family lived in the Eastwick section – actually next door to the older Krulikowskis. My father-in-law and mother-in-law filled me in on the problems pertaining to their property and their refusal to relocate. Eventually, after many years of having the house condemned, etc. the Housing Authority re-deeded the land back to the Bazis family. Tom and I still live in the Bazis house! Many amazing stories surround this section of Southwest Philadelphia.

    Lise Bazis Posted August 11, 2015 at 10:46 am
  7. I was raised on Muhlfeld St
    Attended Patterson, then Tilden, then St. Clements, West Catholic and finially Valley Forge Military where I graduated in 1963.
    I cant get enough of SW Philly history and truly did enjoy reading this.

    What a wonderful place to grow up SW Philly was.

    Mike Carrigan Posted November 28, 2015 at 4:26 pm
  8. I lived on Paschall Ave. across from St. Clements School. We moved to 71st Greenway when I was
    about 7 yrs. old. St. Clements Convent was on the Corner and our house was about 3 doors away.
    Our backyard was connected to the convent by a gate I remember climbing their fruit trees and
    picking the delecious fruit. I know the nuns saw me but never said anything. When I was a teenager
    I would go to Tony’s Hoagie Shop on Elmwood Ave. across from GE a bunch of us would meet there
    and it was such a fun time. I also have fond memories of good times at St Vincent’s Carnival and
    the great friends I met there. I loved the good old days and the wonderful memories I made. Thank
    you for sharing all the wonderful information.

    Rosemarie Johnston Posted January 24, 2016 at 11:38 am
  9. Grew up in MBS parish from 1930 to 1950. I remember the Swedish log cabin on Woodland Ave. at 59th St. It existed until around 1945. There is a photo of it in “Byways and Boulevards in and about Historic Philadelphia”. Page 39.

    Stafford Keer Posted April 13, 2016 at 12:33 pm
  10. Lived behind the carbarn at 49th and Woodland in the 40s and early 50s. Later near Bartram HS. I never appreciated some of the history behind this area. Thanks for a great article.

    Bill Owens Posted April 18, 2016 at 7:09 pm
  11. my father was an air force recruiter in south Philly, but we lived in an area then know as the meadow. It was 1956. We lived in a brand new apartment building called Larchwood Gardens on the intersection of Lyons Ave. and 81st street. It was a great neighborhood and I do not recall any problems then with the black kids who rode the same Eastwick trolley as I did.

    It was a wonderful ethnic neighborhood with all the smells of the various dishes the families would cook. Mostly middle Eurpean folks. The house had big yards and it was just a nice place to live. Like being in the country, but only trolley car ride away from center city.

    Attended Bartram High School and in time I loved the place. I guess all of that has changed now.

    john brier Posted April 22, 2016 at 7:29 am
  12. I grew up on Reinhard Street in SW Philly in the 1950s and 60s until I married in 1972 and moved to the Detroit area of Michigan. I remember as a teenager walking on Woodland Ave on Saturday afternoons with friends. My 89 year old mother still lives in the area and I worry about her everyday living there. When we visit, my husband cannot even imagine what the neighborhood looked like when I lived there. It now looks like a war zone. I attend St. Barnabas and then Bartram High School. Why hasn’t the City of Philadelphia done something to rehab this area instead of letting it die?

    It was a wonderful place to grow up and now when I visit I could just cry.

    Charlotte Garrone Posted September 17, 2016 at 7:01 am
  13. Jennie Harley ( mother of the year) mentioned in this article was my great grandmother. After she passed away my parents purchased her house and I grow up there.

    Terry Malone Staffieri Posted January 4, 2017 at 7:21 pm
  14. Jennie (Harley) Cook was my great-aunt (nice to meet you, cousin Terry Malone Staffieri!) (Interesting, BTW, that the author uses her maiden name when referring to her as the Mother of the Year). Her oldest brother, John Harley (an Irish Catholic), was my great-grandfather and moved to Clearview in the 1920s, where he was subjected to the KKK (led by his German Protestant neighbor) burning a cross on his lawn to protest a Catholic moving in. Racial and ethnic tensions long predate any African or African-American presence in SW Philadelphia, despite the implications in this article. The area was still very suburban until the 1970s, when what was billed as development via additional single-family or twin homes was instead converted to block after block of projects, in the form of row houses. The abrupt, huge, increase in population, most of it low-income, stressed the resources and infrastructure of the area. Finally, on behalf of my SW Philadelphia family, let me just say anyone from Clearview would vehemently protest your calling the whole area The Meadows. It’s two different neighborhoods, each feeling superior to the other, with some (healthy?) rivalry between them. But I can only go by stories I’ve heard, since I never lived there myself. 🙂

    Claire Keenan Posted January 5, 2017 at 10:02 am
  15. My Mom’s family (Whelan) lived at 77th and Chelwynde Ave. Did the Cooks live on Buist? I know there was a family by that name that lived behind them. I always loved how much green space existed in the old section. The Penrose Plaza rowhouses started across the street. My Grandmother’s whole street was torn apart and she lost many neighbors on her block as a result of the redevelopment.
    I know what you mean about a rivalry between Clearview and the Meadows…when my Mom worked at GE the guys would ask her if she arrived by boat(when it rained)
    and she would say that she lived two blocks from the meadows and did not get flooded.

    Lisa Cafferky Posted January 5, 2017 at 6:39 pm
  16. I grew up at 7612 Chelwynde in the house that my grandparents built. The official address was 7618 but we always uses 7612. We had at least a full block of woods between our large yard and the next house to the west of us. Like living in the country even though we were within the city limits. My cousin, Claire Keenan, spoke the truth about the KKK burning a cross on my grandparents’ property. My grandmother, Rose Royle Harley, wife of John Harley and sister-in-law of Jennie Harley Cook, told me that story. We always knew that we lived in Clearview and that The Meadows was down by Lyons Avenue not up where we lived. 🙂 I never thought of Kingsessing as part of SWPhilly. Seemed too far into the city to be part of “us”. We could get the trolley at 75th and Dicks at Island Rd and go to any part of the city in a short time. Very convenient. I am so glad to learn more about the old neighborhood and all the botanists whose names are familiar but whose work was never taught to us in school: Buist, Dick, Lyons, Bartram…The tree on Hobson St just above Buist Av is a monument to the work of Mr. Buist. At age 75 I am still learning more about where I have come from! Thank you!

    Kathi Grace Posted January 6, 2017 at 1:34 am
  17. I visited the old house (7612) while my mother still lived there in 1967 – 1968. My son was then only about 2 years old. He loved to watch the construction as the sewers were put in and new houses were being built on Chelwynde Ave. The house still stands but is now two apartments after having been sold to a family in the neighborhood.
    I remember that during a hard rain we could see a small spout of water pouring from the cellar wall and that the cellar floor always had an inch or two of water after rains. Flooding in the cellar was just the way it was. My grandmother always said one day she would have someone dig around the outside of the foundation and seal it but she died before that was accomplished. The floor dried after every rain so I guess no one worried about it too much…for me as a kid it was just the way things were.

    Kathi Grace Posted January 6, 2017 at 1:45 am
  18. I have been trying to find out who my grandfather was. I think he was Charles Vincent Whalen from Saybrooke Ave. He died in 1966. My grandmother was Mary Kerr, she also lived on South Salford Ave. and Woodland Ave. Her mother died when she was seven in 1911. Does anyone know this family? Regina Brown and Dolores McCullough are still alive and in their 90’s. Thank you.

    Lorene Mervine Posted April 8, 2017 at 11:50 pm
  19. My great great grandfather Robert Callaghan and brother George founded the Callaghan textile Mill in SW Philadelphia in the 1860s. I understand the mill was located below Baltimore Pike along the Cobbs Creek. The Mill later became known as the Angora Woolen Mill, still owned by the brothers, and produced fine cassimere wool. Until age 4, I lived in Angora Terrace in a section of old brick townhomes which once housed factory owners and workers until the mill burned down some time in the early 1900s. The Angora Terrace townhomes have since been raised. The Septa Angora train stop was named for the mill and my great great grandfather.

    Edward J. Vinnacombe Posted October 11, 2017 at 2:23 pm

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