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Mill Creek

West Park Apartments from the west

For three quarters of the past century, public housing has controversially served low-income residents of several West Philadelphia neighborhoods.


Aspen St. Homes

At the turn of the Millennium, Mill Creek Homes was in a state of neglect and disrepair. The project’s replacement would be the vibrant and radically different Lucien E. Blackwell Homes.

Contemporary view of Martha Washington Elementary School

Contemporary photo of Martha Washington Elementary School. For all the public housing innovations and sprucing up in the Mill Creek neighborhood east of 48th Street, this landmark school serving low-income African American children remains under-resourced and under-performing.

Aerial View of Martha Washington

This Google map looking north shows the proximity of the Martha Washington Elementary School playground to the site of the “Lex Street Massacre” above Aspen St. The city and school district tolerated the presence of a crack house within yards of a public school—a situation that was only rectified after a mass shooting took place in the house. 

1927 Bromley map of Martha Washington Public School

Martha Washington School, shown on the Bromley map of West Philadelphia in 1927, on the block of Fairmount, Aspen, and Lex Street.


The School District of Philadelphia’s extension of the Martha Washington playground in the 1960s removed Lex St. between 44th & 45th above Fairmount and gave the school the entire block from Fairmount to Aspen between 44th and 45th streets.


Martha Washington Elementary School was racially segregated during the second half of the twentieth century—and it remains so today. The entrance to the school’s playground on Aspen Street stood just yards from the doorstep of 816 N. Lex St., where the city’s worst mass shooting occurred on 28 December 2000. 

Contemporary view of Lex Street

N. Lex Street as it appears today with the porticoed and rail-porched, accessorized redbrick rowhouses the Public Housing Authority built to replace the block’s decrepit and abandoned buildings, which the Authority bulldozed in 2002. Number 816 (at left in the photo), in its earlier coming-apart version, was the crack-house site of the notorious “Lex Street Massacre.”  

Suburban-style Blackwell Homes

The controversial suburban-like ambience of Lucien E. Blackwell Homes.

Looking West from N. Markoe St.

Looking west from N. Markoe St., the western boundary of Lucien E. Blackwell Homes. Shown here in their proximity to Parkway West High School (formerly Sulzberger Middle/Junior High School) are Lucien E. Blackwell Park and Lucien E. Black Community Center. The park is bounded east to west by N. Markoe and N. 47th Street. It lies on the buried floodplain of the Mill Creek sewer. Running along the base of the high school embankment, N. 47th Street charts the path of the buried sewer. 

N. Markoe St.

N. Markoe St., opposite Lucien E. Blackwell Park and Parkway West High School (formerly Sulzberger Middle/Junior High School), marks the western boundary of Lucien E. Blackwell Homes

Fairmoung Avenue at 45th St.

Lucien E. Blackwell Homes. N. 45th St. between Fairmount Ave. & Aspen St. spans a landscape that once housed the three apartment towers of Mill Creek Homes.