Byberry, in the Far Northeast section, was the most rural section of Philadelphia County at the time of the 1854 Consolidation and had a vibrant abolitionist/anti-slavery presence prior to the Civil War.
One of the nation’s first protests against school segregation occurred there in 1853 when a wealthy African American, the richest resident in that community, refused to pay taxes and forced town leaders to quickly reverse their edict on banning black children from the public school.
Currently Powelton Village, with streets lined with Victorian-era homes and a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, enjoys a quiet residential character. The rugged wilderness-like Wissahickon Valley in Fairmount Park, listed as a National Natural Landmark, once contained residential clusters of housing for workers in the scores of water-powered mills along the Wissahickon Creek.
During the late nineteenth century, the housing and mills were razed as the Fairmount Park Commission bought land to preserve the purity of the creek for Philadelphia’s water supply.
Few among the thousands coming to the Sports Complex in South Philadelphia yearly to cheer the city’s professional baseball team are aware that Philadelphia’s century-plus-long baseball tradition began in North Philadelphia during the nineteenth century.
Beginning in the 1870s, North Philly housed six of the thirteen facilities used by the city’s professional baseball teams.
But it expanded residentially in the late 1800s, spurred partly by the extension of trolley and commuter train lines from the city core.
Mount Airy, in Philadelphia’s leafy Northwest section, inherited its name from the mansion owned by a Colonial-era Chief Justice of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court.
The name Society Hill originated with the Free Society of Traders, a colonial-era merchant’s society, and once applied to the entire region from today’s Pine Street down to Christian Street.
The name fell out of use by the nineteenth century, but assumed new life during the 1950s period of urban renewal. Du Bois’ seminal 1899 book, , prepared as sociological research for the University of Pennsylvania.
Surprisingly for a city steeped in history, the neighborhood-memory of most Philadelphians extends back for only a couple of decades.
Neighborhood histories sometimes become lost as populations and places change, but new histories are constantly being created.