Frankford, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Frankford, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

. Historically, Frankford had an unofficial division separating Frankford (proper) from East Frankford encompassing the area east of Frankford Avenue. The division divided the community first along racial lines, with Caucasians on the west of Frankford Avenue and African Americans to the east. As the community has become less homogeneous, the division is more of a vestige of the past.

In 2005, the 19124 ZIP code, which roughly contains Frankford and Juniata, had a median home sale price of $81,075, an increase of 22% over 2004.


Founded in 1684 by German settlers, the village very likely took its name from the title of the Frankfurt Company, which took up ground there, along what is now known as Frankford Creek, then known as Tacony Creek, in the lower part of Oxford Township. [ [ Incorporated District, Boroughs, and Townships in the County of Philadelphia, 1854] ] It was an early suburb of the town of Philadelphia. William Penn forged a trail through the village that would run from the original town (now Center City) to New York City, passing through Bucks County near the site of his home, Pennsbury Manor. That trail would come to be known as "Frankford Pike" (later Frankford Avenue) and was the town's main street.

The village was incorporated into a borough March 2, 1800, at which time its boundaries were Leiper Street on the northwest, Little Tacony (or Tackawanna) Creek on the south and east, and Frankford Creek on the west. [ William Bucke Campbell, "Old Towns and Districts of Philadelphia", City History Society of Philadelphia, 1942.] ] By act of April 4, 1831, the boundaries of the borough were extended to include land to the northwest of Leiper Street, the line running along Harrison and Horrocks Streets, to a point on Frankford Creek below Wyoming Avenue. In 1853, the part of Whitehall Borough lying between Torresdale and Frankford Avenues below what is now Whitehall Common was added, to encompass a total of 1.468 square miles. In 1854, the borough was annexed by the city of Philadelphia through the Act of Consolidation, 1854.

Frankford was historically a manufacturing center, beginning with a gristmill constructed in the 1660s. This same mill became famous during the American Revolutionary War due to the heroics of Lydia Darrah.

Frankford also has the distinction of having played a role in the formation of the Declaration of Independence.

"There is also a tradition that on the afternoon of that day, or possibly a day or two earlier, there was a joyful private celebration of the great event, by Jefferson and others, at the garden-house of a country-seat in Frankford (near Philadelphia), then occupied by Dr. Enoch Edwards, a leading patriot of that time." [Pg. 281, A LARGER HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO THE CLOSE OF PRESIDENT JACKSON'S ADMINISTRATION BY THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON, NEW YORK, HARPER & BROTHERS, FRANKLIN SQUARE - 1886]

Frankford was also the site of a gunpowder mill that became famous because of its association with Oswald Eve and Paul Revere.

In the 19th century, the town became a center for textile production. Other manufacturing industries also flourished. An early description of industry in 1837:

The borough of Frankford, on the Delaware, is the seat of numerous manufacturing establishments, including several cotton-mills, calico print-works and bleacheries, woollen-mills, iron-works, & etc. Here are also an Arsenal of the United States, and a Lunatic Asylum belonging to the Friends. [THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF GEOGRAPHY: COMPRISING A COMPLETE DESCRIPTION OF THE EARTH, by THOMAS G. BRADFORD. VOL. III. PHILADELPHIA : CAREY, LEA, AND BLANCHARD. 1837]

The Frankford Arsenal rivaled the Philadelphia Navy Yard during World War II. It provided over 22,000 jobs and at its peak, produced 8 million bullets per day [Bissinger, Buzz, "A Prayer for the City", p 57, Random House, NY 1997. ISBN 067942198x ]

In 1922, the Frankford Elevated Line opened, which connected to the Market Street Elevated to provide rapid-transit access to Center City and West Philadelphia. The terminus of today's SEPTA Market-Frankford Line line, now known as the Frankford Transportation Center, became a major transit hub, with connections to bus and trolley routes extending into The Northeast. Residents of Frankford live within walking distance of the terminal. SEPTA's elevated train (the "El") runs through the neighborhood above Frankford Avenue.

Although the Frankford Line helped to catapult Frankford Avenue into a major shopping district in the early 20th century, the traditionally working-class neighborhood saw decline in the 1950s as many Philadelphians moved to the suburbs. White flight eventually took its hold on the neighborhood throughout the 1970s and 1980s. By 1990, over 30% of the storefronts on Frankford Avenue were vacant. [Wright, David J., "It Takes a Neighborhood: Strategies to Prevent Urban Decline" p48, The Rockefeller Institute Press, Albany NY 2001. ISBN 0914341839] Since this time, Frankford has seen a push for improvement. In 1993, The Philadelphia Planning Commission adopted the "Frankford Plan" as a blueprint for revitalizing the neighborhood. Although many vacant storefronts remain, businesses catering to new customers have opened in recent years.

Many business owners hope that gentrification of neighborhoods such as Fishtown and Kensington will spread north into Frankford. Others worry that previous attempts at improving Frankford have not been as effective as hoped, with some blocks to the east of the El still suffering from street crime and open-air drug sales. Between 1985 and 1990, a serial killer known as the "Frankford Slasher" murdered several women in the neighborhood; although several suspects were taken into custody, the actual killer has never been identified.

Notable buildings


*Campbell African Methodist Episcopal Church, founded 1804
*Christian Science Sixth Church
*Frankford Friends Meetinghouse, established 1684
*Holy Cross Church of Christ
*St. James Lutheran Church
*St. Joachim Church, Philadelphia, established 1845
*St. Mark's Church, Frankford is an Episcopal Church, established 1832
*Mar Thoma Church
*St. Mary's Malankara Orthodox Church
*Mater Dolorosa R.C. Church
*The Presbyterian Church of Frankford, dating to 1605, was begun as a German-speaking reformed church
*Second Spanish Baptist Church
*St. Valentine's Polish National Church


*H.R. Edmunds Elementary School
*Frankford Friends School, 1500 Orthodox St.
*Frankford High School, 5000 Oxford Ave.
*Frankford Hospital School of Nursing
*Warren G. Harding Junior High School
*Northwood Academy Charter School
*Allen M Stearne Elementary School

Historic sites

*Garden-House, owned by Dr. Enoch Edwards, where Jefferson and others celebrated the passage of the Declaration. (Present day Womrath Park)
*Cedar Hill Cemetery, established 1849
*Oswald Eve's gunpowder mill, built 1774
*Frankford Community Memorial Stadium, opened 1922, site of several games of the Frankford Yellow Jackets professional football team
*Friends Hospital, the first private psychiatric hospital in the U.S., founded 1813
*Greenwood Cemetery, established 1869, site of a late-1700s summer home of Dr. Benjamin Rush
*Historical Society of Frankford, founded 1905
*The Comly Rich House (built 1826), 4276 Orchard Street, was the first house in the United States to receive a mortgage (1831) [ [ The Comly Rich House] at the Historic American Buildings Survey]
*John Ruan House, built 1796
*Frankford Avenue, formerly Main Street, and before that the King's Highway


* [ Frankford Hospital]
*Eastern Regional Medical Center, a facility of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (formerly Parkview Hospital)


Within the bounds of Frankford exists an enclave known as Northwood. Northwood is made up almost entirely of twin and single homes. Northwood is bounded by Harrison Street to the south, Roosevelt Boulevard to the west and Oxford Avenue to the east, its northernmost point being Sanger Street, just below the intersection of Castor Avenue, Roosevelt Blvd (U.S. 1) and Oxford Avenue. However, a more broad definition of Northwood would extend to Adams Avenue on the south, including the location of Northwood Park and the larger mansions on Castor Avenue south of Harrison Street.

Three of Frankford's schools lie within Northwood. Other facilities in Northwood include Frankford High School's War Memorial Stadium, built in honor of those who served in World War I from the area, and Baldwin Field, named for Matthias Baldwin of the former Baldwin Locomotive Works and his family.

The neighborhood is home to a mostly middle-class population. The neighborhood was also home to former Philadelphia mayor and Representative from the 5th (then 3rd) Congressional District, William J. Green, III, and the late Edward Becker, former justice on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals for the United States.

In 2006, Philadelphia police officer Gary Skerski from Port Richmond was shot and killed at the intersection of Arrott and Castor Avenues in the neighborhood.


Frankford includes a wide variety of ethnic groups, including a large number of Italian Americans, Polish Americans, Irish Americans, Caribbean Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans. As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, the racial makeup of Frankford is 56.58% White, 30.82% African American, 1.89% Asian, and 7.29% from other races. 12.85% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The population of Frankford grew by 3% between the 1990 and 2000 censuses.

Notable residents

*Stephen Decatur for a time kept a home here. [ [ The Order of the Founders and Patriots of America: Articles- Philadelphia in the Nation's History ] ]
*William Walker Foulkrod, US Congressman
*Dr. Benjamin Rush, Continental Congressman and signer of the American Declaration of Independence, had a summer home here.
*Dr. Enoch Edwards, first medical student of Dr. Rush, also a correspondent to France for Jefferson and Monroe kept a summer-home here.


Frankford, like all areas of Philadelphia, is served by the School District of Philadelphia. In particular Frankford High School has been the community's public high school since 1910. In addition to public schools, [ Frankford Friends School] , a private Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade school, is in Frankford [] . The Free Library of Philadelphia also operates the [ Frankford Branch] in the neighborhood.


Although Frankford residents are now likely to be loyal to the Philadelphia Eagles, the community was the home of the Frankford Yellow Jackets, a defunct National Football League team. The Eagles took over the Yellow Jackets' franchise when the Frankford team folded. Frankford is also home to the N.E. Frankford Boys and Girls Club American Legion Post 224 Drill Team, who won the AMA Nationals Championship in 2005 and 2006.


External links

* [ "Under the El"] , Duane Swierczynski, Philadelphia "City Paper"
* [ "Window of Opportunity on Frankford Business Strip"] , Tom Waring, "Northeast Times"
* [ "Fond of Frankford"] , Diane Villano, "Northeast Times"
* [ Philadelphia's New Frankford El Terminal]
* [ "Lydia Darragh"] ,
* [ Historical Society of Frankford]
* ["House and ground where the 1st "4th of July" was celebrated." Enoch Edwards, Womrath property; 4216 Frankford Ave."] ,ca 1870, P.9062.53b (Brenner) 7 1/8" x 9 1/2" Notes: Reduced image in HSP: Bd 862 N447, 6th Series with printed label.

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