Dickinson Narrows, Philadelphia

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Dickinson Square West
Neighborhood of Philadelphia
Philadelphia Neighborhood Map.svg
Country  United States
State Pennsylvania
County Philadelphia County
City Philadelphia
Area code(s) Area code 215

Dickinson Narrows, Philadelphia is a neighborhood in South Philadelphia and is partially a sector of larger existing areas, Pennsport and Passyunk Square.[1] It is bound by Washington Avenue to the north, Mifflin Street to the south, 4th Street to the east, and 6th Street to the west. Dickinson Narrows is called "Dickinson Square West" by the neighborhood association located within its boundaries.[2]


The boundaries of Dickinson Narrows are Washington Avenue to Mifflin Street, and Fourth to Sixth streets.


Dickinson Narrows adjoins some of the earliest settled land in the City of Philadelphia to the east. Lenni Lenape Indians initially inhabited the overall area, until Swedish settlers arrived in 1638. However, upon William Penn's arrival in 1682, the area was deemed "Southwark". It quickly grew and the area was then divided into two townships but retained their original American Indian names, Moyamensing (pigeon droppings) and Passyunk (in the valley). The area grew mainly due to the busy port at Washington Avenue. The Delaware River served as immigration entrance point and train transfer point for Civil War soldiers.

Many iron foundries were scattered in the northern portion of Dickinson Narrows, including the present-day Sacks Playground and Mount Sinai Hospital. The population of new immigrants, many Jewish, spilled beyond the traditional borders of Southwark, westward beyond 4th Street, as well as southward below Washington Avenue away from the city center. A lively commercial market developed along 7th Street where Jewish merchants sold a variety of goods, becoming the main commercial corridor in South Philadelphia. Important community centers were established, such as the Workmen's Circle on 6th Street and Tasker Street. This group worked to preserve and promote Yiddish culture and support members' involvement in the labor movement.

To provide for the medical needs of the burgeoning Russian Jewish population, the Beth Israel Hospital was formed in 1899 to treat the area's poor Jewish population. It was later absorbed by the Franklin Free Dispensary, which then merged with similar groups to form the Mount Sinai Hospital Association in 1900. Jacob D. Lit, of Lit Brothers fame, became their president. In 1903, the Association was able to buy an old lumber yard at the 1400 block of South 5th Street, central to the neighborhood that was the most in need. The $25,000 purchase included the yard's four-story building, which became the first Mount Sinai Hospital. The hospital opened to the public in March 1905. Though created to serve the immediate neighborhood, Mount Sinai was the only hospital south of Pine Street and east of Broad (100,000 potential patients). The 33-bed hospital served a large geographic area, all eligible for free treatment (mainly paid for by Lits).

The hospital grew as additional buildings were constructed. Late Victorian homes, known as Doctor's Row, were constructed along 5th Street south of Wharton in 1865 to accommodate the hospital personnel. By the end of the 1980s, it extended nearly all the way across the square block, having eliminated St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church (1865) and two small residential streets.

The hospital struggled financially, and after a series of owners, it closed in 1997 and has remained vacant.[3]


  • Mt. Sinai Hospital at 5th & Reed, (Louis Magaziner, Colonial Revival, 1905), National Palace Theatre at 1332 S. 5th Street (Medoff, Late Victorian, 1909), George Washington Elementary School at 5th & Federal (Irwin T. Catherine, Art Deco, 1935), former Southwark Branch Library at 5th & Washington (Boyd, 1911).
  • U.S. Congressional District: 1st, Bob Brady (D)[4]
  • U.S. Senators: Bob Casey (D);[5] Pat Toomey (R)[6]
  • Pennsylvania Governor: Tom Corbett (R)[7]

State Senate District: Lawrence M. Farnese Jr. (D)[8] State House District: 175th, Michael H. O'Brien (D);[9] 184th, William F. Keller (D)[10] City Council District: 1st, Mark Squila (D)[11] Ward:1st, 2nd

  • Police District: 3rd, Capt. Michael Ryan,[12] Community Relations Officers Ace Delgado and Gary Harkins
  • Libraries: closest libraries include: Whitman,[13] 200 Snyder Ave., in Whitman; Santore,[14] 932 S Seventh St., in Bella Vista
  • Schools: George Washington Elementary School, 1198 S. Fifth St.[15]
  • Places of worship: Mount Moriah Temple Baptist Church, Russell Tabernacle C.M.E. Church, Breath of Life Christian Academy, Prophetic Church of Christ
  • Recreation centers: Ford P.A.L. Center,[16] 609 Snyder Avenue
  • Parks and playgrounds: Sacks Park, Manton Street Park & Community Garden, Moore Street Community Garden, Moore Street Family Garden


  1. ^ "IMG_2086 (1024×768) | Hidden City Philadelphia". hiddencityphila.org. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  2. ^ "Dickinson Square West Civic Association | Serving 4th-6th and Washington to Mifflin Streets in South Philadelphia". Dickinsonsquarewest.org. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  3. ^ "PhilaPlace". Philaplace.org. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  4. ^ "Congressman Robert Brady". Brady.house.gov. 2014-09-05. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania". Casey.senate.gov. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  6. ^ "Pat Toomey | U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania". Toomey.senate.gov. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  7. ^ "Official Website of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf". Governor.state.pa.us. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  8. ^ "Senator Farnese". Senator Farnese. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  9. ^ "Rep. Michael O'Brien | Homepage". Pahouse.com. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  10. ^ "Rep. William F. Keller | Homepage". Pahouse.com. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  11. ^ "Councilman Mark Squilla – 1st District". Philadelphia City Council. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  12. ^ "3rd District | Philadelphia Police Department". Phillypolice.com. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  13. ^ "FLP - Whitman Branch". Libwww.freelibrary.org. 2010-12-05. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  14. ^ "FLP - Charles Santore Branch". Libwww.freelibrary.org. 2010-12-05. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  15. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20100109090803/http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/schools/w/washington. Archived from the original on January 9, 2010. Retrieved February 6, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ "Police Athletic League of Philadelphia ::: PAL Center Locations". Phillypal.com. Archived from the original on 2015-02-26. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 

Coordinates: 39°55′34″N 75°10′05″W / 39.926°N 75.168°W / 39.926; -75.168