South Street (Philadelphia)
|Neighborhood of Philadelphia|
South Street sign at 19th Street
|Area code(s)||Area code 215|
|West end||33rd Street / Spruce Street in University City|
| I-76 (Schuylkill Expressway) in University City
PA 611 (Broad Street) in Center City
|East end||Front Street in Center City|
South Street, originally named "Cedar Street" in William Penn's original street grid, is an east-west street forming the southern border of the Center City neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the northern border for the neighborhoods of South Philadelphia. The stretch of South Street between Front Street and Seventh Street is known for its "bohemian" and "punk" atmosphere and its diverse and urban mix of shops, bars, and eateries. It is one of Philadelphia's largest tourist attractions.
South Street begins at 33rd and Spruce Streets in University City, heading east-southeast past the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field and the University Museum. It crosses the Schuylkill River on the South Street Bridge, a fixed bridge built in 2010 to replace a former double bascule bridge dating from 1923. South Street then heads east (relative to the city grid), and becomes one-way eastbound from 27th Street all the way to Front Street.
South Street marks the 600 South block (from Market Street) in the city's gridiron street system. In West Philadelphia, the 600 South is delineated between 45th and 63rd Streets by Cedar Avenue, the name being a relic of the original name for South Street (Cedar Street) in the original plan for Philadelphia as drafted by William Penn. South Street and Cedar Avenue are discontinuous with each other due to Woodland Cemetery, the University of Pennsylvania (the former Blockley Township), and the Schuylkill River.
Named Cedar Street in William Penn's plan of Philadelphia, South Street was the traditional southern boundary of Philadelphia's city limits before the city annexed the townships of Passyunk, Moyamensing and Southwark.
Until the 1950s, South Street was known mainly as a garment district, with stores for men's suits and other clothing. Real estate values plummeted after city planner Edmund Bacon and others proposed the Crosstown Expressway, a short limited-access expressway connecting the Schuylkill Expressway and I-95 that would have required the demolition of many buildings on South Street and Bainbridge Street (an east-west street one block south of South Street). The suddenly cheap property attracted artists and counterculture-types. The proposed expressway was never built due to public opposition.
In the 1960s and 1970s, South Street was filled with clubs and bars that fostered a live local music community. It was not uncommon for South Philadelphians to "bar-hop" across the clubs, listening to live bands along the way. This community of fans helped attract recording contracts for many artists, including Kenn Kweder, the "bard of South Street"; George Thorogood; and Robert Hazard. In 1976, Jim's Steaks of West Philadelphia expanded to 400 South Street, becoming the notable restaurant's first franchise.
In the 1980s, South Street became one of the city's main tourist attractions. Tourists flocked to the nightlife that South Street had accumulated over the years, and the "neighborhood" community aspect was stripped from it. Many of the South Street clubs closed, replaced by chain stores and shops to cater to tourists.
Today, the name "South Street" is popularly attached to an eight-block stretch of South extending after 8th Street (and a few adjacent streets). It remains a popular hangout area for teens, college students, and twentysomethings with its assortment of bars, take-out eateries, sex shops, gift shops, and retailers catering to hip hop fashion, punk fashion, and/or urban culture. A few restaurants and independent boutiques targeting a slightly more mature clientele are interspersed with these businesses, such as Accent on Animals, a pet supply store, and South Street Souvlaki, a Greek restaurant. Retail chains found on the street include Jim's Steaks, Johnny Rockets, two Starbucks locations, Häagen-Dazs, Rita's Water Ice, Super Fresh, Whole Foods, CVS, and Fine Wine & Good Spirits. South Street is adjacent to Headhouse Square, a notable plaza with various shops and restaurants.
South Street is traversed over its entire length by SEPTA's Route 40 bus, running eastbound on South and westbound on Lombard Street through Center City. During evenings and weekends, the 40 bus avoids the pedestrian congestion east of Broad Street by turning north on Broad and then turning east on Pine Street all the way to Front Street. Several other transit routes cross South Street, most important being the subsurface Broad Street Line with its station at Lombard-South.
South Street in popular culture
The Orlons, a music group from Philadelphia, released a 1963 song based on (and entitled) South Street, which begins with the line "Where do all the hippies meet?" Another Philadelphia-area band, The Dovells also mentioned South Street in their 1963 hit "You Can't Sit Down".
Philadelphia band Need New Body has a song called "So St RX" which is about South Street.
Fear's 1982 song "I Don't Care About You", which name-checks the neighborhoods associated with the punk movement in the United States in the early 1980s, begins with the line, "I'm from South Street Philadelphia" (also relevant to writer/vocalist Lee Ving who was born in the city).
The Dead Milkmen's 1988 song "Punk Rock Girl" makes references to Zipperhead (a punk rock/alternative clothing and accessories store) and The Philadelphia Pizza Company., Ltd, both of which were located on South Street. Portions of the video for this song were filmed on South Street. Zipperhead has since relocated to South 4th St. and been renamed to Crash Bang Boom. A few years after Zipperhead founder and building landlord Rick Millan sold the business to local musician Rob Windfelder and his business partner Stefanie Jollis, the store was relocated and renamed.
Green Day made their Philadelphia debut on January 23, 1993 at J.C. Dobbs on the 300 block of South Street. The band had not yet signed with Reprise and the club oversold the 125-capacity venue. Late arrivals paid to enter the second floor and watch the live video feed. During the third song of the set, a young woman had a seizure, the show was halted, and police ended the concert and cleared the venue.
Singer songwriter Jake Laufer's 2009 rockabilly song, "Center City," about a guy from Tennessee coming north to meet up with his Philly-based girlfriend, features several South Street landmarks, including Lorenzo's Pizza and Famous 4th Street Deli.
The block of South Street between 5th and 6th Street is shown in the opening credits of the FX Network show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia".
- "What's in an Odanym".
- Philadelphia Neighborhoods A-K. City of Philadelphia Department of Records.
- Philadelphia Neighborhoods Q-Z. City of Philadelphia Department of Records.
- Philadelphia Pressroom What's In The South Street Neighborhood? Accessed August 15, 2012
- "South Street Bridge". Bridgehunter.com. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- Ray, Matthew. "City and State honor Edmund Bacon". Weekly Press (originally published in). The Ed Bacon Foundation. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- "Jim's Steaks History". Retrieved December 9, 2011.
- "SEPTA Route 40". Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- Pearn Jr., Frank (January 23, 1993). "Philadelphia Police Seize The Moment At Dobbs". The Morning Call (Allentown). Retrieved 2014-04-10.