Holmesburg, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Holmesburg, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Holmesburg is a neighborhood in the Far Northeast section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is named for Thomas Holme, William Penn's friend and surveyor, who drew the first map of Philadelphia. It is the area that Holme recommended as the central location for the City of Philadelphia, but Penn opted instead for the downriver locale.

It is bordered by Holme Avenue to the west, the Delaware River to the east, and Sheffield Avenue to the south. The border shared with Torresdale to the north is often subject to conversation, with answers ranging as far north as Academy Road and as far south as Pennypack Creek. Holmesburg uses 19136 as its zip code.


Holmesburg is the birthplace or residence of some of famous Americans, including Stephen Decatur (War of 1812 Naval commander), Matthias W. Baldwin (founder of the Baldwin Locomotive Works), Dr. Byrd Peale (a member of the historic Peale family and leading 19th century abolitionist), George Albert Castor (inventor of the ready-made suit that revolutionized the entire garment industry), and actress Ethel Barrymore.

Before the Act of Consolidation, 1854, Holmesburg had been a part of Delaware Township of Philadelphia County. Before 1853, it had been a part of Lower Dublin Township.

Holmesburg contains one of the longest continuous African-American communities in the nation, having been founded by runaway slaves prior to and during the Civil War.

Holmesburg is the location of the historic Pennypack Theatre building, built in 1929 in the Art Deco style with a 1,364-seat capacity and designed by acclaimed 20th century theater architect William Harold Lee.

Recreation and transportation

Recreational facilities include Holmesburg Recreation Center at Rhawn and Ditman Streets, James Ramp Memorial Playground, Pennypack Park and Pennypack on the Delaware.

Transportation to Center City Philadelphia is provided by SEPTA's R7 commuter train, which affords a quick 25-minute ride into the urban center. Interstate 95 is also an easy 15-20 minute drive into downtown, accessible either by the Cottman Avenue (PA-73) entrance to the south or Academy Road entrance to the north.

Holmesburg's main thoroughfare, Frankford Avenue (U.S. Route 13), is an historic byway in use for centuries. Frankford Avenue was used as a route from Philadelphia to points north as far back as the 1600s. The Frankford Avenue Bridge across Pennypack Creek, built in 1697, is the oldest stone arch bridge in continuous use in the country.


The Philadelphia Prison System is located in Holmesburg. It includes the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (named for Patrick N. Curran, Warden of old Holmesburg Prison, and Robert F. Fromhold, Deputy Warden, both of whom were murdered in a prison riot on May 31, 1973) as well as the Detention Center, the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, the House of Correction, Riverside Correctional Facility and The Alternative and Special Detention unit. Curran-Fromhold replaced Holmesburg Prison, which was used from 1896 until 1995. Holmesburg Prison was recently reopened.

Holmesburg in print and film

The novel "Green Grass Grace", by Holmesburg native Shawn McBride, is set in the neighborhood. Holmesburg Prison was used for two major motion pictures, "Up Close & Personal" starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer, and "Animal Factory" starring Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke, and Edward Furlong.

External links

* [http://www.holmesburg.com/ Holmesburg.com]

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