Lower North Philadelphia Views, 1-25

While the cover image is of historic Philadelphia, this post represents the first quarter of 100 pictures (mostly) captured in North Philadelphia while walking my dog. Using a cell phone camera – a Motorola Droid Mini 10 MP – these pictures were initially posted on Instagram between August 2016 and February 2017. The chronological ordering has been preserved. The principal theme is land use but many images are representative of change in hyper-local demographics and the flow of capital. If pictures inspire curiosity about the neighborhood, Philadelphia, or anything else, please leave your comments and questions.


Moving from upstate NY to north Philadelphia, the differences in the environmental aesthetic are vast. Graffiti and dilapidated buildings abound, lower north Philadelphia – “one of the most impoverished areas in the nation”  is exceptional – http://nyti.ms/2nT6MYJ.


Neighborhood block party

The first weekend in Philadephia, the road was closed off for a day of food, prodigious drinking, and entertainment for kids. These kids will live shorter lives than the average well off white Philadelphian  by nearly 20 years – http://bit.ly/2nT9VHW. Downtown Philly looms in the distance.


Old and new

Remnants of yesterday’s commerce, tomorrow is still undefined along many sections of Ridge Avenue. Check out http://bit.ly/2iBGD2D for a tour of other old signs, in addition to Gilbert’s Shoes #gilbertsshoes. Ridge Avenue, a crooked path through Philadelphia to outlying areas was a Leni Lenape trail, before white settlement – http://bit.ly/2nSTwn8.


One man’s junk

Street side garbage, picked up “free of charge”, leads to places like this, a spot filled weekly with the contents of houses thrown off from pickup trucks. A mayoral cabinet has been appointed to address some of these ills http://bit.ly/2iBvxKQ.


Crime in the neighborhood

Lots of property crime, consistently, and, now and again, assaults (including sexual) and murder. I constantly view the area crime map – http://bit.ly/2iBJCb6.



The Wissahickon flows into the Schuylkill, 1,800 acres are under conservation, providing 1.1M annual visitors a place to hike, walk, run, bike, etc., within proximity of – and accessible off-road from – Philadelphia city center – http://vstphl.ly/2iBIi8a.


Neighborhood brew pub

About 10 blocks south, Fairmont St presents a different vibe, with Bar Hygge #barhygge a western bookend. one year young, food rates well and its beers brewed on premise beer http://bit.ly/2nG2zaS.


Church was bank

Northwestern national bank stands as a memorial to “the importance of North Philadelpia as it developed” in the late 1800s, home to Smith Chapel Baptist Church since 1969. Here is one rant of an architectural review – http://bit.ly/2nGhP7H.


Park, sans swings

One of the city’s 150 neighborhood parks or squares getting minimal use. Not without controversy, a massive investment in its park system is underway – http://bit.ly/2nT03Os.


Open sky

Number of buildings slated for demolition number of buildings abandoned. A good deal of change is underway. While not meeting established definitions of “gentrification”, development underway is transformative  – http://bit.ly/2nT1UCS.


Evening dog walk

The Market St skyline is ever-present and ever-changing. Coverage on the tall buildings – http://bit.ly/2nGIroK.


Arguments as frequent as the shots, Sunday

Basketball court is often full-up at Francisville Park #francisvilleplayground – a neighborhood oasis filled with the arguments on the court, the repetitious squeak of swings, and children’s delight – http://bit.ly/2nGxCmT.


Haiku, a brett powered american sour ale, redundant

Revisiting Bar Hygge to work though its drink-worthy selection of mostly lightly hopped beers. Beer Advocate confirms some of my opinions – http://bit.ly/2nGle6b.


Kitty corner car

No longer a registered business, the bay door is often open and classic cars in various states of (dis)repair line the sidewalk. A relic “business” in a changing neighborhood.


Tax dollars at work

Rough as the roadways can be, maintenance is constant. this pothole was dug out by backhoe one day, three-quarter filled with cement another, and topped with asphalt on another.


Ubiquitous scaffold

The rate of growth after 50-years of steady decline is still low but areas of this neighborhood, fueled by demand by Temple University students, are experiencing stunning block-at-a-time redevelopment projects.  A 20% increase in permits in 2016, and a bordering neighborhood experiencing some of the highest rates of growth, construction sites are on every block –  http://bit.ly/2nSRRxV



With a sale price under $50,000, this little single unit was picked up for renovation. It is now available for rent or fully occupied following work that included rebuilding the front wall, ground up. Insight into who is moving where – – http://bit.ly/2nSZXXk.


Morning walk

On weekdays, the trolley, school buses, and auto traffic fill Girard flush but weekends traffic can be sparse. One pedestrian on an amble, taking advantage.


Door way

Alongside the Smith Baptist Chapel is an intact block of stately homes. While a lot of the original stained glass and woodwork is gone, including the doors, many architectural features and embellishments remain. Mansions or multifamily dwellings, these lovelies are being condominiumized and tripling in value.



There are many layers and textures, some real, others reflected or projected. On hiatus, this new construction features wood, brick, metal, etc.


Historic neighborhood

Gryphons look over entrance to Eastern State Penitentiary #easternstate. A significant site and top draw for tourists, it’s also an anchor for the small commercial district on Fairmont  http://vstphl.ly/2mUHJXD.


Mixed media

An aggregation and dissolution of materials over time and proprietary tagging fits well the aviary superscript. Secondary note: #gilbersshoes.


Bike lane

While the city rates highly – #4 in the country – when it comes to bike lanes, it does not mean they are safe or bike friendly. Double parking is a plague –  http://bit.ly/2mUQu43.



Lower north Philly is rhythm and verse; this poet gave domestic abuse, poverty, and parental love a thought-provoking spin. Secondary note: #gilbersshoes.


Low fidelity

Downtown is beyond neighborhood boundaries but is only a ten-minute trip straight down 17th St. The crisp reflection of the many glass buildings does little to brighten the view. Comcast’s newest addition, under construction – http://bit.ly/2mULL20.



2 thoughts on “Lower North Philadelphia Views, 1-25

  1. Wow. I will have to go back and click on on the links.

    The pictures, as always, are excellent, and description easily compliments the images.



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