Two cups of coffee were just what I needed to get me going this morning, right before I hopped the El downtown to join a walking tour put on by the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. Though Jewish history in Philadelphia goes back to colonial times (a topic I'll cover in depth in the future), today's focus was on the late 19th century immigrant experience.
JEWISH IMMIGRANT PHILADELPHIA
Relive the Philadelphia experience of Eastern European Jews who settled along South Street in the late 19th century. Explore their humble synagogues and homes and learn about their thriving marketplaces that became prominent businesses.This community's boundaries generally corresponded to a good chunk of the southeastern portion of the original borders of the City of Philadelphia (the district which is today known as Center City) prior to the 1854 consolidation of all boroughs, townships, districts and unincorporated communities within Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania which formed today's city; along with most of what is today's Bella Vista neighborhood. From 2nd Street in the east over to 6th Street on the west; from Spruce Street on the north on down to Christian Street to the south.
Now as expected, my hearing impairment prevented me from hearing much of what was being said by our guide, but that's okay. I ended up with more pictures than one would ever even think of shaking a stick at (don't even think about doing that, I am quite serious!), and also with a determination to learn much more on my own. This, I will do in the coming years. And decades. :)
The full, long-winded and very photo-heavy (heh) version of this photo diary will be posted on my own blog in the coming days, once I finally get around to setting it up. I'll notify youze when. For now, some brief words, and a few pics of Old Jewish Philadelphia. Continued below the jump...
We met up at Society Hill Synagogue at 2 PM, and covered a winding path of about a mile of streets and centuries-old rowhouse blocks (and decades of just one small period of history!) over the subsequent couple of hours.
The melting pot.
One of Philadelphia's 14,000 Middle Eastern restaurants I have to try, right off one of the alleys we strolled through.
Stepping out of chronological order for just one second, here is where I did have lunch just before the tour...
...Hamifgash, 811-13 Sansom Street. Had a Romanian Kabab stuffed pita sandwich. It was very good.
As I noted to another gentleman on our tour, I must have passed this building (mostly at night) about 100 times in my life (long before I finally moved here, I've always wanted to live in Philadelphia; and growing up in North Jersey, I used to take the train down here to my favorite city almost every weekend at times), and never even thought twice about it.
So much history out there, so much more I need to learn!
I took a picture here just because I thought this corner looks awesome (it does!), and it actually turned out to have some significance in the late-19th Century Philadelphia Jewish community. I need to reconcile my notes, and do some further research before I'm able to expand upon this, however.
Our group, with me bringing up the rear (I was busy snapping pics and admiring random ancient cornices) turns down and along the world's famous South Street. :)
Yeah, I'm telling their story one day...
Jewish and Irish, side by side. I could not possibly feel more at home. Heh.
That's about it for now. And if anyone ever finds themselves in town, we should maybe meet up for a sandwich here...
...after touring some of the above spots!