Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Beacon

When I first created this memoirs blog, I really was doing it just as a service to myself. I figured I could spend those various down moments I get by documenting my past online. Perhaps a few friends would surf over and follow along.

A few days into it - after reading some heartfelt emails of thanks for sharing and remembering, many from those too young to know - I realize that this site has become a bit more than just a place for me to dump random thoughts of my youth.

It's a place to celebrate a bygone era. A place to celebrate a time when Center City was governed by the various freaks of the underbelly of society. The gays, the punks, the radical left. Local government had pretty much become insular at the time. Rizzo was either embracing his core or fighting his enemy - many of whom lived in Center City.

When I posted about South Street's golden age, I got an email from a reader, excited over learning about a street that he never knew. Sure the buildings are old - but what is the history?

Yes, I'll continue to share my story. My images. My past. But first, I want to take you back to South Street. Before The Gap and Johnny Rockets. Before Skinz and Grendel's. I want to take you back to the ORIGINAL South Street. When it was home to thousands of Jewish immigrants as well as home to generations of free black Americans.

In a way, it's fitting that South Street was and continued to be the home for those underappreciated. From its days as the thriving main street for immigrants and citizens trying to find a place to call home, to the days when I, along with hundreds of others first discovered the street while searching for ourselves... South Street was a beacon.

So, when I long for South Street in my posts - it's not for the shops that used to be here. Or the scene that embraced the sidewalks. I long for the beacon - the energy that once shimmered off the dark strip of asphalt. That is the South Street I remember.

So with that, let's go way back - to 1930. You are standing in the intersection of 3rd and South - looking west up to 4th, etc. The street is bustling with business. This is what you would have seen... (click image to enlarge)

To help you get your bearings: the building on the right (the dentist) is now Maako's.

1 comment:

Kenny said...

Wow! very cool shot. I must show this to my mom. Her mother used to take her shopping there when she was a little girl back in the 30's.
I worked at Zipperhead back in 84 and I can't believe how much the street has changed over the years. I miss the thrift shops.. back when they were cheap!