South Street (Philadelphia)

South Street (Philadelphia)

Infobox road
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highway_name=South Street
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direction_a=West
starting_terminus=33rd Street in University City
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direction_b=East
ending_terminus=Front Street in Center City
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cities=Philadelphia
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South Street is an east-west street in the Center City neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The stretch of South Street between Front Street and Seventh Street is known for its "bohemian" atmosphere and its wide variety of shops and eateries of many different styles. The street is comparable to a large outdoor mall, with the occasional bar and club providing live music. It is one of Philadelphia's largest tourist attractions, and today is frequented by people from outside the cityFact|date=February 2007 as well as tourists from other states or countries.

History

Originally named Cedar Street in William Penn's plan of Philadelphia, South Street was the traditional southern boundary of Philadelphia's city limits before the townships of Passyunk, Moyamensing and Southwark were annexed to the city.

Prior to and until the 1950s, South Street was known mainly as a garment district, featuring a number of men's suit stores and other clothing stores. At approximately that time, city planner Edmund Bacon and others proposed the construction of the "Crosstown Expressway"- a short limited-access expressway connecting the Schuylkill Expressway and I-95 by cutting a swath along South Street. Although that project never got further than the planning stage, the drop in real estate values that resulted from the uncertainty attracted artists and counterculture-types.

South Street was very different in the 1960s-1970s than it is today. Back then, it was filled with clubs and bars, most of them promoting live local music. It was on South Street that the Philadelphia local music community began. Most people who frequented South Street actually lived in South Philadelphia, unlike today where it is populated by the inhabitants of North/West Philadelphia, suburban Philadelphia and New Jersey. fact|date=August 2007

The 1960s and 1970s saw South Street grow to become a huge clubbing and live music area for Philadelphia. It was not uncommon to see South Philadelphians go "bar-hopping" across the clubs, listening to live bands along the way. It was this time when many artists, including Kenn Kweder (revered as the "bard of South Street"), George Thorogood and Robert Hazard got signed because of this community of fans on South Street.

However, towards the 1980s South Street began getting more famous, quickly becoming one of Philly's tourist attractions. Tourists flocked to the nocturnal community that South Street had accumulated over the years, and the "neighborhood" community aspect was stripped from it. Many of the South Street clubs closed, replaced by chain stores and shops to cater to the tourists who came down.

outh Street in popular culture

The Orlons, a music group from Philadelphia, released a 1963 song based on (and entitled) South Street, which includes the line "where do all the hippies meet?".

Philadelphia band Need New Body has a song called "So St RX" which is about South Street.

Fear's 1982 song "I Don't Care About You", which name-checks the neighborhoods associated with the punk movement in the United States in the early 1980s, begins with the line, "I'm from South Street Philadelphia".

The Dead Milkmen's 1988 song "Punk Rock Girl" makes references to Zipperhead (a punk rock/alternative clothing and accessories store) and The Philly Pizza Company, both of which were located on South Street before going out of business. Portions of the video for this song were filmed on South Street. Zipperhead has since relocated to South 4th St. and renamed to Crash Bang Boom, after rising real estate costs forced them to close.

Boyz II Men's debut song and video "Motownphilly" was filmed on location on South Street.

The HBO comedy special "The Diceman Cometh", starring comedian Andrew Dice Clay, was recorded at South Street's Theater of the Living Arts (and was mentioned in the special by Clay).

South Street is shown in the opening credits of the FX Network show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia".

During Mardi Gras in 2001, celebrations at South Street restaurant/bar Fat Tuesday got out of hand, eventually resulting in drunken partiers spilling out onto the street. Stores and other businesses, including the Tower Records location, were broken into and looted before Philadelphia police had a chance to quell the ruckus.

The incident painted a negative image of Philadelphia and was the subject of ridicule on many late-night TV talk shows. Subsequent years have seen not only an increased police presence on South Street on Mardi Gras, but also a general avoidance by partiers due to said presence.

Today, South Street remains a very popular hangout and commercial hub for teens and twentysomethings alike. South Street, while once popular with many consumers who preferred shopping at small unique shops and boutiques, is increasingly becoming an outdoor mall. Longtime South Street icons such as Zipperhead have moved elsewhere, making way for commercial giants to move in, diluting the original cultural experience. fact|date=August 2007

References

External links

* [http://www.southstreet.com South Street Tourism Page]


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