PhilaPlace Neighborhood Tours

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PhilaPlace Neighborhood Tours

Friday, May 6, 2011

Experience South Philadelphia and the Northern Liberties in a new way—through the stories and memories of the immigrants, mill workers, merchants, and others who once called these neighborhoods home. On Saturday, May 21, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania will host a walking tour of South Philadelphia, followed by a tour of the Northern Liberties. Sign up for one—or both—of these fascinating trips exploring the past, present, and a bit of the future of these neighborhoods.

Please note: Both of these tours are walking tours lasting between 2 and 2.5 hours and covering between 3-4 miles in total walking distance. We recommend comfortable clothes, walking shoes, and not bringing heavy bags or accessories. Groups will be limited to 20 people per tour. Tours will be rescheduled in the event of inclement weather.

Tours are $15 for members of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and $20 for nonmembers. To register, visit

The tour of South Philadelphia “Territory of Dreams” will begin at Christian Street and Delaware Avenue in front of Shank’s at 10 a.m. The tour will conclude around 12:30 p.m. at 9th Street and Washington Avenue in the heart of the Italian Market. During this walking tour, a local guide will reveal a neighborhood that is constantly evolving and attracting new immigrant communities. Learn about the neighborhood’s original inhabitants—the Lenape—and the 17th-century arrival of Swedish and Dutch settlers. Stop at the Weccacoe Engine House to hear about the tension between Protestant and Catholic immigrants. At Mother Bethel AME Church, learn the story of Philadelphia’s free black community and its struggle for equality. At mid-point in the tour, we will stop at Famous 4th Street Delicatessen for some light refreshments.

Parking is available in the shopping center at Delaware and Washington Avenue and on Christian Street.

The tour of the Northern Liberties “Building on ‘Ruins’” will begin in front of the Edgar Allen Poe House at 7th and Spring Garden Streets at 1:30 p.m., and the tour will end around 3:30 p.m. in front of the Al-Aqsa Mosque at Germantown Avenue and Jefferson Street. During this walk, you’ll learn how this neighborhood is continuously reinventing itself—turning an old ice cream factory into condominiums and an ice house into an artist studio. This tour of the “ruins” of Northern Liberties will celebrate the neighborhood’s diversity. Stops include the German Society of Pennsylvania, the Latvian Society social club, and St. Andrew’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Learn about once-bustling Marshall Street where Jewish merchants sold live fish, poultry, produce, and baked goods. Half way through this tour, we will stop at Kaplan’s New Model Bakery for some light refreshments.

Safe, on-street parking is available on Spring Garden and 7th Streets. The start of this tour is close to the Spring Garden Street Station of the Market-Frankford line, and the end of the tour is near the Girard Street Station of the same line.

These tours are sponsored by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and based on information gathered on, the Historical Society’s interactive website where visitors can explore the history, cultures, and architecture of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.

PhilaPlace was created by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in partnership with the City of Philadelphia Department of Records, the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, and other institutions and community organizations. PhilaPlace has been made possible by generous support from The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, through the Heritage Philadelphia Program; jointly by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Federal-State Partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Pennsylvania Department of Education; the Connelly Foundation; and Southwest Airlines.