Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Columbia Avenue Riot

Police on Thirteenth Street

A black and white photograph showing a large group of police lining the streets. There is a car on the street in the middle of the image, and some people not dressed in police uniforms throughout the crowd.

Police, show here during the 1964 Columbia Avenue riot, sought greater protection of urban unrest during the 1960s. (Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries)

Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries

The police presence around Columbia Avenue increased from 600 officers on the first night of riot to over 1,800 officers on the second night. Pictured here at the intersection of Thirteenth and Berks Streets is a large group of officers waiting for assignment. Police created blockades around the main riot zone bordered by Poplar, Lehigh, Tenth, and Thirty-Third Streets in an effort to stifle the rioting. Mayor James H.J. Tate placed a curfew on the riot zone on August 29, preventing businesses from opening and allowing police to arrest anyone caught on the street at night. Police volume and constraints did not limit the intensity of the rioting on the second night, but by the third day only a few pockets of rioting occurred and police presence was scaled back.

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