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University City

Black and white photo portrait of adult Paul Robeson, wearing a dark suit, white shirt, and white-speckled dark tie.

Three heroic Civil Rights icons—Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—left formidable imprints on West Philadelphia. These biographies sketch out their lives and contributions, emphasizing their common ground as precursors to Black Lives Matter movement and the 1619 Project.

This story collection traces a sixty-year process of urban renewal on the site that once was the heart of West Philadelphia’s Black Bottom. Over this span of time, urban renewal on this site has been cyclic and replete with irony.

Students of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania contribute articles about uses of land acquired from the Blockley Almshouse for scientific purposes at the turn of the twentieth century.


The last quarter of the nineteenth century saw the development of licensed centralized slaughterhouse operations on the west bank of the Schuylkill, both on and near the present site of Amtrak’s 30th St. Station.

The frame of a historic Woodland Avenue trolley marks the entrance to the SEPTA station at 37th and Spruce streets. The trolley was manufactured by the J.G. Brill Company. The station itself is some 40 feet below ground. Across Spruce is the Memorial Gate of Penn’s Upper Quad college houses.  

This 1955 photo shows 36th Street at Penn during subway construction.

In this Evening Bulletin photo of orientation activities at House One, Rodney Davis, 16, take notes on the courses he plans to take. Each sheet has a course description. 

In this Evening Bulletin photo, new Free School students, Gordenia Burrell (left) and Norman Washington, chat with teacher Richard Seymour as other students and faculty members gather (background) in House One. Seymour was the head teacher at House One (3833 Walnut Street). 

Left to right: John Mount, of the training section of the U.S. Post Office; Linda Powell, West Philadelphia High School (WPHS), junior moving to the Free School; Dr. Aase Eriksen, Penn GSE lecturer and director of the Free School; Donald Colman, WPHS junior also at the Free School; and Richard Seymour, head teacher of the Free School's first unit, House One (3833 Walnut Street) review books for House One.”

This contemporary photo shows House One of the Free School fifty years after the alternative school opened. Straddling the corner of Walnut and 39th street, 3833 Walnut is still owned by the School District of Philadelphia.