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African Americans

Map showing density of Black population in West Philadelphia, 1950

This digital map drawn from the 1950 U.S. Census shows the growing presence of blacks west of the Schuylkill River in 1950. The black presence in the Mill Creek neighborhood appears in the 60–80 percent range at mid-century.

Mantua Square

Opened in 1961 in the working-poor, black-segregated neighborhood of Mantua, Mantua Hall was an 18-storey, 153-unit modernist apartment tower built to house 495 people.

Mill Creek Homes

The architect Louis I. Kahn’s design for Mill Creek Homes—three 17-storey high-rise buildings and a cluster of two- and three-storey low-rises—was implemented by the Philadelphia Housing Authority in the Mill Creek neighborhood beginning in 1953 and extending into the 1960s, though with reductions in Kahn’s original design. 

An undeveloped tract of land at 48th and Spruce streets became a baseball field that in the early 1930s was home to Black professional and semi-professional baseball teams. In the wartime 1940s, the field was home to hundreds of Victory Gardens. From the 1950s on, it was home to West Philadelphia High School’s football and baseball teams.

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 and practices, which found support in the writings of anti-black race-writers.

University Redevelopment Area Unit 3 came to represent the divide between university and community after residents were displaced as part of the creation of the University City Science Center.

Armstrong Association Fundraising Campaign Stamp

A stamp created by the Armstrong Association of Philadelphia as part of a 1917 campaign to raise funds for education initiatives.

A segregated waiting room crowded with travelers at the Jacksonville railroad depot.

A segregated waiting room crowded with travelers at the Jacksonville railroad depot.

Southern Family Arriving in the North

An emblematic image of the Great Migration of African American families leaving the Jim Crow South in search of better economic and social opportunities in Northern cities, 1915–1970.