Point Breeze, Philadelphia

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Point Breeze
Neighborhood of Philadelphia
Point Breeze Avenue street sign at its northern terminus at Federal and 20th streets.
Point Breeze Avenue street sign at its northern terminus at Federal and 20th streets.
Country  United States
State Pennsylvania
County Philadelphia County
City Philadelphia
ZIP Code 19145, 19146
Area code(s) Area code 215

Point Breeze is a neighborhood in the South Philadelphia section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. It is generally bound by 25th Street to the west, Washington Avenue to the north, Broad Street to the east, and Mifflin Street to the south, although the sections between 18th Street and Broad Street are coming into their own neighborhood as Newbold. Southwest Center City lies to its north, and Passyunk Square lies to its east. Point Breeze is separated from Grays Ferry to the west by a CSX railway viaduct over 25th Street.

History[edit]

According to historical maps, much of what is South Philadelphia including Point Breeze was still not yet developed and integrated into the rectilinear grid system by 1843 or later.[1][original research?] "Point Breeze" was a point on the western side of the Schuylkill river approximately where the Passyunk Avenue bridge is today. It and the area across from it on the eastern side of the river were established as an area for oil refinery in the 1860s by Atlantic Petroleum Storage Company, later the Atlantic Refining Company. From this point, oil that had been drilled in Western Pennsylvania could be processed and then shipped down the Schuylkill, to the Delaware and out to sea.[2] The Avenue that connected the city proper to the east side of the river at Point Breeze had existed by 1808 as "Long Lane." [1] In the mid to late 1800s development of Philadelphia continued westward from the Delaware river and southward from Market Street. Long Lane also began to be known as Point Breeze Avenue by 1895[1] and lent its name to the neighborhood that was to spring up here. "The earliest references to Point Breeze" as a neighborhood "date to 1895."[3] The area was first settled by working-class European Jewish immigrants followed by Italian and Irish immigrants. In 1930s the neighborhood saw an influx of African Americans some of which were involved in The Great Migration escaping Jim Crow in the South and looking for work in the urban centers of the north. At this time the African American epicenter of Philadelphia was shifting from near Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 8th and Lombard to west of Broad.[4]

Washington Avenue and 19th Street, looking into Point Breeze
Washington Avenue and 19th Street, looking into Point Breeze

Through the 1960s Point Breeze was reported to be a safe, clean, relatively integrated and self-sufficient neighborhood with a thriving business district along Point Breeze Avenue itself known to residents as "The Breeze." Racial tensions, fear of race riots and white flight in the 1960s and '70s saw many businesses move away and shifted the demographics of the neighborhood to mostly African American. The heroin epidemic of the 70's and crack epidemic of the '90s and its related crime also affected Point Breeze. Between 1988 and 1990 the Philadelphia Police department performed a series of raids in Point Breeze effectively shutting down the Carr family drug ring which reportedly had been selling $1.3 million per year in crack, cocaine and prescription drugs.[5][6][7] The Point Breeze Performing Arts Center opened in 1984 on Point Breeze Avenue.[8] Point Breeze lost approximately 10% of its population from 1990 through 2000.[9] Despite this, in the 90's some revitalization efforts have taken place through such organizations as South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S. and Universal Companies, owned by Kenny Gamble, whom helped build low income housing and schools in the area. Immigrants from Southeast Asia have also moved into Point Breeze in the '90s and 2000s. For example, in the 2000 census Point Breeze contained the highest concentration of Vietnamese in the entire city; over 900 Vietnamese people making up almost 12% of the population of Point Breeze.[10]

In the 2000s and beyond Point Breeze has shown further revitalization partially due to gentrification. Real estate investors like John Longacre and Ori Feibush have begun developing property in Point Breeze, especially along Broad Street and Washington Avenue.[11] A section of Point Breeze east of 18th Street is now being called Newbold by some developers, residents and neighborhood organizations. This is highly controversial amongst some residents of Point Breeze.[12]

The George W. Childs School, David Landreth School, Marine Corps Supply Activity, Delaplaine McDaniel School, Jeremiah Nichols School, Walter George Smith School, and the former Francis M. Drexel School are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[13]

Name origin[edit]

'Point Breeze' was originally the name given to a spot on the west side of the Schuylkill River. Point Breeze Avenue then became the road that cut southwest to provide access to the spot from what was at the time Philadelphia proper. The avenue cuts diagonally through the neighborhood's rectilinear street grid.

Social issues[edit]

The Point Breeze neighborhood suffered from abandonment and population decline throughout the mid 20th century. Today it is a neighborhood under revitalization from efforts steered by South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S. Inc. and the Point Breeze Community Development Coalition Inc., in addition to such organizations as Neighbors in Action, Universal Companies, Point Breeze Business Association, Point Breeze Pioneers greening group and other prominent Philadelphia organizations.[14]

Cityscape[edit]

Point Breeze is south of Grays Ferry Avenue, north of Passyunk Avenue, and east of the Schuylkill River.[15]

Culture[edit]

Keith Haring's mural "We Are The Youth" at 22nd and Ellsworth Streets in Point Breeze.

Point Breeze is home to several Philadelphia Mural Arts Program murals. In 1987 Keith Haring collaborated with CityKids a New York based youth organization to create a mural titled "We Are The Youth" located at 22nd and Ellsworth in Point Breeze. In 2013 the Mural Arts program restored the mural and a small community garden was built beneath it. [16][17]

Education[edit]

Residents are zoned to the School District of Philadelphia.[15] There are 4 catchment areas in Point Breeze. Delaplaine McDaniel School K–8 (named after the Quaker merchant) at 22nd & Moore serves the westernmost catchment, Edwin M. Stanton School K-8 (named after the Secretary of War under Lincoln) at 17th & Christian serves the northernmost catchment and George W. Childs School K–8 (named after the publisher) at 16th & Wharton serves the easternmost catchment. All of the students in these three catchment areas are eligible to attend South Philadelphia High School. (Norris S. Barratt middle school was formerly the name of the school at 16th & Wharton but it closed in 2011 due to declining enrollment.[18] The former George W. Childs elementary school built in 1894 at 17th & Tasker was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 but was shuttered in 2010 and its fate remains uncertain.[19][20]) The southernmost catchment of Point Breeze attends Stephen Girard School K–4 (named after the wealthy banker) at 18th & Snyder, Universal Institute Charter School at Vare 5–8 at 24th & Snyder and Universal Institute Charter School at Audenried 9-12 at 33rd & Tasker.[21]

Infrastructure and government[edit]

Point Breeze Avenue northern terminus.  Federal Street running west is in the foreground.  20th Street is on the left, Point Breeze Avenue on the right.  Philadelphia Fire Department Engine Company 24 visible at the corner with the Philadelphia Police Department 17th District office on the far left.
Point Breeze Avenue northern terminus. Federal Street running west is in the foreground. 20th Street is on the left, Point Breeze Avenue on the right. Philadelphia Fire Department Engine Company 24 visible at the corner with the Philadelphia Police Department 17th District office on the far left.

The United States Postal Service operates the Point Breeze Post Office at 2500 Snyder Avenue.[22]

The Philadelphia Police Department's 17th District station is at the northern terminus of Point Breeze Avenue where it intersects 20th & Federal.[23]

The Free Library of Philadelphia operates the South Philadelphia Branch at Broad and Morris (currently closed for renovations as of spring 2014) and the Queen Memorial Library at 23rd & Federal (located in the Landreth Apartments for seniors).[24]

Point Breeze has several indoor and outdoor recreational areas:[25]

  • Chew Playground and Recreation Facility, 19th & Washington
  • Wharton Square and Recreation Facility, 23rd & Wharton
  • DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Facility, 15th & Morris
  • Smith Playground and Recreation Facility/Wilson Park, 24th & Snyder

Notable Residents[edit]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network
  2. ^ "A Petaled Rose Of Hell: Refineries, Fire Risk, And The New Geography Of Oil In Philadelphia’s Tidewater", "Hidden City Philadelphia"
  3. ^ "The place where you live: Point Breeze", South Philly Review October 7, 2004
  4. ^ "Point Breeze", "The PhillyHistory Blog:Discoveries from the City Archives," August 5, 2010
  5. ^ "House Is Seized, Sealed As Site Of Open Drug Sales", "The Philadelphia Inquirer," June 29, 1989
  6. ^ "This Drug Operation, Police Say, Was A Family Affair", "The Philadelphia Inquirer," July 9, 1989
  7. ^ "Alleged Drug Family Raided", "The Philadelphia Inquirer," March 9, 1990
  8. ^ "Neighborhood: Point Breeze", "Center City District + Central Philadelphia Development Corporation"
  9. ^ a b "Community Profile: Point Breeze, "South Philly Review"]
  10. ^ "Recent Trends in Immigration to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Who came and where do they live?", "Pennsylvania University Arts & Sciences Fels Institute of Government," Christopher Patusky & Johnny Ceffalio, August 2004, p. 29
  11. ^ "American Sardine Bar’s John Longacre: It’s Not About Race and Class", "Philadelphia Magazine," May 20, 2013
  12. ^ "Newbold or Point Breeze?", "Philadelphia Real Estate Blog," June 13, 2012
  13. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  14. ^ Fact Sheet - Point Breeze
  15. ^ a b "Philadelphia Neighborhoods and Place Names, L-P." City of Philadelphia. Retrieved on October 4, 2011. "East of Schuylkill River, north of Passyunk Avenue, south of Grays Ferry Avenue. "
  16. ^ "Keith Haring Mural Philadelphia Gets Makeover", "AP," October 30, 2013
  17. ^ "'We the Youth' recreates Keith Haring's vision", "South Philly Review," November 7, 2013
  18. ^ "Farewell to Barratt", "South Philly Review," June 23, 2011
  19. ^ "Plan Philly: Vacant School Buildings Affect Surrounding Communities", "Philadelphia Neighborhoods," December 6, 2012
  20. ^ "Point Breeze: Plans Uncertain for Future of Former G.W. Childs Community School Building", "Philadelphia Neighborhoods," December 12, 2013
  21. ^ "The School District of Philadelphia School Finder"
  22. ^ "Post Office Location - POINT BREEZE." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 4, 2008.
  23. ^ "Philadelphia Police Department Districts"
  24. ^ "The Free Library Of philadelphia Branches"
  25. ^ "City of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation"

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°56′05″N 75°10′53″W / 39.93482°N 75.18146°W / 39.93482; -75.18146