South Philadelphia began as a satellite town of Philadelphia, with small townships such as Moyamensing and Southwark. During the Industrial Revolution, the area saw rapid growth, in part due to mass immigration from Ireland. Its urbanized border reached that of Philadelphia. Along with all other jurisdictions in the county, South Philadelphia became part of the City of Philadelphia proper with passage by the Pennsylvania legislature of the city/county Act of Consolidation, 1854. The area continued to grow, becoming a vital part of Philadelphia's large industrial base and attracting immigrants from Italy, Ireland, Poland, and many other countries during the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as Black American migrants from the southern United States during the Great Migration of the early 20th century. The immigrants and migrants became the basis of South Philadelphia's unique and vibrant culture that developed over the next several decades. Struggling to maintain their Catholic identity in a mostly Protestant city, the Irish built a system of Irish Catholic churches and parochial schools for their children, and added Catholic high schools. The later immigrant populations of Italians and Polish were also Catholic. At first they attended the existing churches but built their own national churches when they could. Ethnic Irish controlled the Catholic clergy and hierarchy for decades in Philadelphia and the region. Despite the dramatic growth in population, the low funding of education by the city resulted in the first public high school not being formed in South Philadelphia until 1934. Attracted to the industrial jobs, the new residents created communities that continued many of their traditions.
While many of the new arrivals were Catholic, neighborhood parishes reflected their national traditions. Monsignor James F. Connelly, the pastor of the Stella Maris Catholic Church and an editor of the 1976 work The History of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said in a 2005 Philadelphia Inquirer article that each parish church "offer[s] the immigrants the faith they were familiar with." With the dramatic loss of industrial jobs during mid-20th century restructuring, there were population losses in South Philadelphia as well as other working-class parts of the city, and some neighborhood Catholic schools had to close.
Most of South Philadelphia's communities are largely Italian American. There also continue to be many ethnic Irish Americans and African Americans. An increase in late 20th-century immigration has given South Philadelphia significant populations from Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand; as well as from Russia and Mexico, and smaller groups from dozens of nations across the world. Today, many vendors at the Italian Market are of Asian descent, and Vietnamese and Thai restaurants are interspersed with historic Italian ones in the Market area. The recent revitalization of Center City Philadelphia and the subsequent gentrification of adjacent neighborhoods has led to dramatic rises in prices of housing in the neighborhoods of historic Queen Village, Bella Vista, and some other parts of South Philadelphia.
Many of the community clubs that create the annual Mummers Parade every New Year's Day have traditionally been from South Philadelphia, especially those located on the largely Irish American S. 2nd Street ("Two Street") in the Pennsport neighborhood.
Government and infrastructure 
The Philadelphia Fire Department operates nine fire stations serving South Philadelphia. Most of South Philadelphia resides in Fire Battalion 1, headquartered at 711 South Broad Street. Portions of South Philadelphia reside in Battalion 4, headquartered at North 4th Street and Arch Street, and Battalion 11, headquartered at 43rd Street and Market Street.
According to the United States Census Bureau, South Philadelphia has an area of 9.7 sq. miles, of which none is water. South Philadelphia is located at.
In 2010, the area's population was 168,782. It is home to a diverse population of Italian Americans, Irish Americans, African Americans, Indonesian Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Chinese Americans, Mexican Americans, and Central Americans, as well as many newer immigrants. Many residents have lived in the neighborhood for decades. Many family-owned businesses are found in South Philadelphia.
On January 22, 2010 the Associated Press said "South Philadelphia has been growing more diverse for decades, but the last 20 years have seen the greatest influx of Asian and Hispanic families." David Elesh, a Temple University urban sociologist, said that of the almost 60,000 Philadelphia residents who reported being born in China, many lived in South Philadelphia.
As of the 2010 Census, there are 168,782 people in 78,440 housing units. The population density is 16,771 people per square mile. 46.6% of the population is male, and 53.4% is female. The South Philadelphia area comprises the zip codes of 19145, 19146, 19147, and 19148. Data for the zip codes that make up South Philadelphia as of the Census 2000 Summary File:
- Non-Hispanic White: 87,268 (51.8%)
- African-American: 43,404 (25.7%)
- Asian: 20,926 (12.4%)
- Hispanic or Latino: 12,866 (7.6%)
- Mixed or Other: 10,531 (6.1%)
- American Indian: 656 (0.3%)
I-95 runs north and south through South Philadelphia and, in this area, provides commuters with access to Philadelphia International Airport, I-76, the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, and the Walt Whitman Bridge. The Girard Point Bridge section of I-95 crosses over the mouth of the Schuylkill River, where it merges with the Delaware River.
I-76 becomes the Schuylkill Expressway at Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia and allows access between this section of the city and University City, Center City, 30th Street Station, and the western suburbs.
In addition, PA Route 291 serves as a major artery between the area and Delaware County, crossing the Schuylkill River via the Platt Bridge (named for Medal of Honor recipient George C. Platt). Broad Street is part of PA Route 611.
SEPTA's Broad Street Line subway services South Philadelphia and provides quick access to Center City and North Philadelphia. A number of SEPTA bus routes also serve South Philadelphia, ferrying commuters to and from Center City and its immediate suburbs, mostly those in Delaware County.
South Philadelphia is served by bike lanes on many streets going in all directions. Snyder Avenue has bike lanes going East and West. Columbus Boulevard has North and South bike lanes. 22nd Street provides Northward lanes for cyclists. Some streets such as 11th Street has both Bike lanes and Sharrows or Shared lane marking.
In a 2007 Philadelphia Weekly article, the journalist Steve Volk stated that anti-drug activists said that South Philadelphia has secretive recreational drug dealing. More neighborhoods in the region are mixed-income than neighborhoods in some other regions; therefore, many drug dealers hide their activities. As in other parts of the city, drugs have contributed to crime.
Primary and secondary schools 
Public schools 
Residents are with the School District of Philadelphia's South District. Zoned public high schools in South Philadelphia include South Philadelphia High School, Audenried High School, and Furness High School.
The Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), a magnet school, is in South Philadelphia.
Private schools 
Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School is in South Philadelphia. It is a merger of the former Saint John Neumann High School and the Saint Maria Goretti High School. Philadelphia Free School is also located in the area.
Public libraries 
Free Library of Philadelphia operates six branches in South Philadelphia: Charles Santore, Fumo Family, Queen Memorial, South Philadelphia, Thomas F. Donatucci, Sr. and Whitman. Prior to its 1999 reopening in a new building, the Fumo Branch was known as the Ritner Children's Branch.
Places of note 
Perhaps the most famous landmark in South Philadelphia is the South Philadelphia Sports Complex at the corner of Broad Street and Pattison Avenue. Here, the Philadelphia Phillies (professional baseball), Philadelphia Eagles (professional football), Philadelphia 76ers (professional basketball), Philadelphia Flyers (professional ice hockey), Philadelphia Wings (professional lacrosse), Philadelphia Soul (professional arena football), Temple Owls (college football) and the annual Wing Bowl (an event sponsored by the sports talk radio station, 610-WIP) make their home in the massive state-of-the-art sports arenas surrounding the well-known intersection: Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, and the Wells Fargo Center.
The sports complex was once home to Veterans Stadium (The Vet) which stood from 1971 to 2004; JFK Stadium, which stood from 1925 to 1992; and the Spectrum, which was in use from 1967 to 2009 and was demolished in 2011. The NovaCare Complex, located on Pattison Avenue just west of the stadium area, serves as the practice facility of the Philadelphia Eagles. They now play at Lincoln Financial Field.
The intersection of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue is home to the regionally famous Geno's Steaks and Pat's King of Steaks cheesesteak shops, fierce competitors in the local deli market for decades. Also, nearby is the city's open-air Italian Market, specializing in fresh produce, meats, and other foods. It is lined by specialty shops, such as butchers, bakeries and cheese/grocery stores, as well as one for kitchen goods, and new cafes and coffee houses. The area was featured in the film Rocky and its sequels. This is the heart of an annual street festival celebrating the neighborhood's food.
South Street has long been considered the border between South Philadelphia proper and Center City. It originally ran east and west (although traffic is now routed east one-way). Many bars, nightspots, shops, tattoo parlors, and restaurants are located along this neon-lit hotspot, with occasional live music venues (including the TLA) along the way.
The American Swedish Historical Museum is located in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park. One of Philadelphia's last pre-World War I rowhouse synagogues, Congregation Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel, remains active in Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, location of the alleged Philadelphia Experiment, is located in this section of town along the Delaware River. For decades during the World Wars and after, the shipyard was a major employer, whose craftsmen built new ships and repaired and maintained existing ones. With the decline in the military uses, the area is being redeveloped by the Navy and city for a variety of business and industrial uses.
The Sunoco oil corporation bases its headquarters along South Philadelphia's Passyunk Avenue. This is a short drive from the wide collection of car dealerships known as the "Philadelphia Auto Mall".
A refurbished area of South Philadelphia alongside Columbus Boulevard/Delaware Avenue (near the Walt Whitman Bridge) provides big box shopping at a Best Buy and an Ikea for thousands of shoppers. There are also many new chain restaurants and fast food establishments along this stretch, including Longhorn Steakhouse, Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que Pit, and Chick-fil-A just to name a few. This new shopping area goes by the name Columbus Commons.
Washington Avenue, between 16th St. on the west and Front St. on the east, is home to many Asian businesses, including Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean. Among these are restaurants of all types, two large Asian supermarkets, jewelers and a wide variety of specialty shops.
Passyunk Avenue, running on a diagonal from Broad Street to South Street, is a formerly thriving consumer district currently undergoing revitalization efforts. Within the past few years, several coffeeshops, restaurants and bars have opened which appeal to the younger population beginning to live in the area. In addition, a farmers' market is held on Wednesday nights at one of the squares.
The Arena (better known as the ECW Arena) at the corner of Swanson Street and Ritner Street is a venue known for hosting boxing and professional wrestling events.
Famous residents 
- Al Alberts, singer and composer; co-founder and lead singer of The Four Aces
- Marian Anderson, opera singers and Congressional Gold Medal recipient
- Frankie Avalon, actor, singer, teen idol
- Joey Bishop, actor, comedian, member of the "Rat Pack"
- Black Thought, MC and co-founder of The Roots
- Danny Cedrone, bandleader, guitarist for "Rock Around the Clock"
- Chubby Checker, singer of The Twist
- Stanley Cowell, jazz pianist, founder of Strata-East Records, member of the Heath Brothers
- Jim Croce Singer-Songwriter
- Joey DeFrancesco, jazz organist, trumpeter, vocalist
- Buddy DeFranco, jazz clarinet player
- James DePreist, conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, director at the Juilliard School, laureate music director of the Oregon Symphony
- Fred Diodati, lead singer of The Four Aces
- Charles Earland, jazz composer, organist, saxophonist
- Fabian 1950s teen idol
- Wilhelmenia Fernandez, soprano, star of the film Diva
- Larry Fine, member of the comedy act The Three Stooges
- Linda Fiorentino, actress (Dogma, Men in Black, The Last Seduction)
- Al Fisher, guard for the Kent State Golden Flashes
- Eddie Fisher, singer, entertainer
- Edwin Forrest, 19th century stage actor
- Kenny Gamble, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songwriting and record production team Gamble and Huff
- Dusolina Giannini, soprano (Metropolitan Opera)
- Vittorio Giannini, composer of operas, symphonies, and band music
- Charlie Gracie, rock pioneer and singer
- Isadore Granoff, founder of the Granoff School of Music
- Buddy Greco, singer ("The Lady is a Tramp") and pianist
- William Guarnere, nicknamed "Wild Bill", member of 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment E, "Easy Company"
- Frank Guarrera, baritone (Metropolitan Opera)
- Albert "Tootie" Heath jazz drummer, member of the Heath Brothers
- Jimmy Heath jazz tenor saxophonist, member of the Heath Brothers
- Percy Heath double bass player for the Modern Jazz Quartet, member of the Heath Brothers
- Edward "Babe" Heffron, member of 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment E, "Easy Company"
- Sherman Hemsley, actor (All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Amen)
- Dom Irrera, comedian
- Albert Innaurato, playwright, theatre director, and writer
- Jerry Jaye, country/rockabilly singer ("My Girl Josephine")
- Kitty Kallen, singer ("Little Things Mean a Lot")
- Irvin Kershner, director (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, RoboCop 2)
- Jack Klugman, actor (The Odd Couple, Quincy, M.E., 12 Angry Men)
- Joseph Kramm, playwright (Pulitzer Prize for The Shrike), actor, and director
- Eddie Lang, jazz guitarist
- Mario Lanza, tenor and actor (The Great Caruso)
- Hy Lit, Philadelphia-area DJ from the 1950s until 2005
- George Litto, film producer (Thieves Like Us, Dressed to Kill and Blow Out)
- Bernie Lowe, songwriter, producer, arranger, founder of Cameo Records, launched careers of Chubby Checker, Charlie Gracie, Dee Dee Sharp, Bobby Rydell, The Orlons
- Man Ray, modernist/Dada/Surrealist artist
- Gloria Mann, pop singer ("Earth Angel")
- Guy Marks, actor, singer, comedian and impressionist
- Al Martino, singer ("Here in My Heart", "Volare") and actor (The Godfather, The Godfather Part III)
- Pat Martino, jazz guitarist and composer
- N. Richard Nash, writer and dramatist (The Rainmaker)
- Fayard Nicholas, dancer (Nicholas Brothers)
- Harold Nicholas, dancer (Nicholas Brothers)
- Harry Olivieri, co-inventor of the cheesesteak
- Pat Olivieri, co-inventor of the cheesesteak
- Frank Palumbo, restaurateur, humanitarian and power broker; owner of Palumbo's"
- Vince Papale, former professional football player for the Philadelphia Eagles in the late 1970s. His story of making the team and his playing career is the subbject of the 2006 film Invincible.
- Lisa Peluso, actress (Saturday Night Fever, Search for Tomorrow, Loving, Another World, One Life to Live)
- Vincent Persichetti, composer, pianist, teacher at the Juilliard School (students included Philip Glass, Hall Overton, Kenneth Fuchs and Thelonious Monk)
- Questlove, drummer and co-founder of The Roots
- Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano (Metropolitan Opera, Grammy Award for Porgy and Bess)
- Peter Mark Richman, actor (Santa Barbara, Dynasty, Three's Company, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan)
- Frank Rizzo, mayor of Philadelphia (1972–1980)
- LaVaughn Robinson, tap dancer, choreographer (a National Endowment of the Arts "Living National Treasure" and NEA National Heritage Fellowship award)
- Bobby Rydell, singer ("Wild One", "Volaire"), actor (Bye Bye Birdie), teen idol
- Jodie Sands, singer ("With All My Heart", "Someday (You'll Want Me to Want You)") 
- Dee Dee Sharp, singer ("Slow Twistin'" (with Chubby Checker), "Mashed Potato Time")
- Beanie Siegel, rapper
- Sylvester Stallone (briefly), actor (Rocky and Rambo franchises)
- Joseph Stefano, Edgar Award winning screenwriter (Psycho)
- George Tunnell, vocalist (Jan Savitt and the Top Hatters)
- Charlie Ventura, tenor saxophonist and bandleader
- Joe Venuti, the father of jazz violin
- Stanley Weintraub, professor, historian, and biographer
- Ed Wynn, Emmy Award winning (The Ed Wynn Show) and Academy Award nominated (The Diary of Anne Frank) actor (Ziegfeld Follies, The Great Man, Mary Poppins)
See also 
- Aquarama Aquarium Theater of the Sea
- Benjamin Franklin Bridge
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park
- Italian Market, Philadelphia
- Moyamensing Prison
- Naval Hospital Philadelphia
- Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
- Sesquicentennial Exposition
- Settlement Music School
- South Philadelphia High School
- South Philadelphia Sports Complex
- Walt Whitman Bridge
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- Where Pennsylvania History Began(by Henry D. Paxon, The Swedish Colonial Society, 1926)
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- Woodall, Martha. "Unsteady times for neighborhood Catholic schools; Population changes have meant fewer elementaries and an unexpected merger." Philadelphia Inquirer. March 16, 2005.
- Max L. Raab (2001). Strut! The Movie (DVD). Philadelphia: Max L. Raab Productions.
- Welch, Jr., Charles E. (October – December, 1966). ""Oh, Dem Golden Slippers": The Philadelphia Mummers Parade". The Journal of American Folklore (The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 79, No. 314) 79 (314): 523–536. doi:10.2307/538218. JSTOR 538218.
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- "Croce, James Joseph (Jim)". Retrieved 2010-05-16.
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- Jon's Bar and Grille. "About Larry". Retrieved 6 November 2008.
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