Explore Stories

Stories offer an individual narrative of a specific subject. They are the building blocks of Story Collections.

 

PGH’s closing in 1977 unleashed a bidding war for the leveled site that was eventually won by a consortium that included Penn, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Children’s Seashore House, and the Veteran’s Administration. The consortium, called the PGH Development Corporation, built...

In the first half of the twentieth century, the Blockley Almshouse farmed out its almshouse services and its “lunatic asylum” and recast itself as the Philadelphia General Hospital, whose clinical services significantly improve after the Second World War.

Health issues that would plague generations of African Americans in northern cities in the twentieth century, including patients treated by the Philadelphia General Hospital in the three decades after the Second World War, can be traced to cities’ discriminatory health and employment policies...

In 1872, the University of Pennsylvania relocated its small campus from the central City to Blockley Almshouse property that the City deeded to the University. 

In 1834, Philadelphia relocated its almshouse (poorhouse) to Blockley Township in West Philadelphia, to a hilltop environ above the Schuylkill River; by 1854 the site included a swath of new buildings for indigent housing, workshops, and hospital facilities, including a an insane asylum.  

Private Redevelopment in Mantua

In 2014, President Barack Obama designated Mantua and several other poor neighborhoods north of Market Street as the West Philadelphia Promise Zone.

Herman Wrice Mural

Herman Wrice, who founded Mantua Against Drugs (MAD), led a brave 15-year campaign to drive narcotics dealers from Mantua and to shut down their crack houses.

Harsh social conditions made Mantua, a high-poverty African American neighborhood, vulnerable to the devastation of the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s.

Older Mantua Rowhouses

Acceleration of the Great Migration of southern blacks moving north between 1940 and 1950 transformed Mantua from a majority white to a majority black neighborhood, whose population by 1960 was virtually all-African American.

Hannah Schoff Family

Hannah Kent Schoff, a resident of Powelton, was a progressive advocate for the health and wellbeing of the nation’s children.

Thomas E. Miller was notable as a member of the South Carolina legislature and senate during the Reconstruction era; later, at the onset of the Jim Crow era, he served a short-term in the U.S. House of Representatives; he and his family arrived in Powelton in or around 1921.

Since 1987, Anne Whiston Spirn, a renowned landscape historian, first at the University of Pennsylvania, now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been actively involved with her students, West Philadelphia community allies, and the Philadelphia Water Department in studying the...

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