Southwest Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Southwest Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Southwest Center City (SWCC) [ [ Plan Philly] calls the neighborhood Southwest Center City. ] [ The [ Gateway Community Development Corporation] also calls it Southwest Center City. ] is a neighborhood in the southern section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The neighborhood is bordered on the north by South Street, on the south by Washington Avenue, on the west by the Schuylkill River, and by Broad Street on the east. [ [ Map from UPenn study on the neighboorhood] ] [ [ Map of the Southwest Central Redevelopment Area as of 1968] ] A transitional area between the Fitler Square and Rittenhouse Square neighborhoods to the North and Point Breeze to the South, it is home to several community service organizations, many churches, a few retail establishments and some light industry.

The neighborhood has many names. Since the 1980s, it is frequently referred to as Graduate Hospital, after the medical facility on the northern edge of the neighborhood. This name has become historical since the hospital closed in 2007. Despite this, it is still used and is sometimes shortened to G-Ho [ [ City Paper article about "G-Ho"] ] . The area is also variously referred to as South of South [ [ SOSNA - The South of South Neighborhood Association] ] , SoSo [ [ Real estate web site] for the area that uses SoSo and other names SoSoW, ] , Naval Square [ [ Naval Square] , a Toll Brothers development that will make up a large part of the neighboorhood ] , or Schuylkill-Southwest [ [ UPenn study regarding historic preservation of neighborhood] ] although these names are generally not favored or even not known by most residents. A small corner of this area is sometimes known as Devil's Pocket.


The neighborhood consists primarily of nineteenth and twentieth-century rowhomes interspersed with corner stores, 22 churches and a few larger architectural landmarks. On the eastern half of the neighborhood is the Scottish Rite affordable housing complex which consists of two multi story apartment buildings that cater mostly to elderly and low income individuals. The former buildings of Graduate Hospital lie on South Street, the northern border of the neighborhood. Along Grays Ferry Avenue is the former Philadelphia Naval Asylum or Navel Home, designed in 1826 by William Strickland. This National Historic Landmark first constructed in 1833, closed in 1976, and is now being developed into condos. The Schuylkill Arsenal was originally built at the edge of this neighborhood, but has since been demolished.


Prior to Act of Consolidation, 1854, this neighborhood was part of Moyamensing Township. Moyamensing was originally chartered by the Dutch governor Alexander d'Hinoyossa, and in 1684, William Penn confirmed the title. [ [ Early Moyamensing history] from ]

The neighborhood began taking shape after the Civil War. In 1870, it was predominantly an Irish American community; however, the neighborhood was in a transitional period, and by 1920, a majority of its residents were African Americans. It continued to experience significant in-migration from the south prior to, during, and immediately after World War II. It remained a solid working-class neighborhood for most of the first half of the twentieth century.

After the 1950s, the loss of jobs and residents caused the neighborhood to decline as buildings were abandoned and left to deteriorate.

Recent development

In recent years the area has experienced growth and gentrification. Hundreds of single family homes and condominium units have been built or refurbished. As a result of the neighborhood's increasing desirability, a variety of new businesses catering to the increasingly gentrified population have opened. Despite the improvements, the neighborhood still contains some abandoned and dilapidated housing, especially towards the south.

The Grammy Award winning musician and local resident Kenneth Gamble founded "Universal Companies" in Southwest Center City to revitalize the neighborhood. Universal Community Homes, a division of the company, began the Universal Court housing project in the neighborhood in the 1990s. Originally, some tension existed between the company and the local South of South Neighborhood Association, but this was soon resolved as the project was deemed a success. [Kromer, John, "Neighborhood Recovery: Reinvestment Policy for the New Hometown" p44, Rutgers University Press NJ, 2000. ISBN 0-8135-2716-3] "Universal Companies" has since opened several small neighborhood businesses, low-income housing, and a charter school.


Every year, Southwest Center City is host to Philadelphia's Odunde festival. The festival is a tradition of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. This African celebration of the new year is held at the intersection of Grays Ferry Avenue and South Street. It was founded in 1975 by Lois Fernandez the local community activist and frequently hosts African performers.

A local pub, Grace Tavern, was recently ranked #1 on Philadelphia Weekly's list of the Top 50 Bars. [ [ PW: Top 50 Bars] ]


External links

* [ Neighboorhood Photo Essay]
* [ Neighboorhood Video Tour]
* [ Odunde Festival]
* [ History] of Philadelphia Naval Home
* [ Community events calendar]
* Interactive aerial perspectives from Virtual Earth: [] []

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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