South Philadelphia: A Neighborhood with European Flavor

real estate  /   /  By Tracy

Yet within Philadelphia is a particular neighborhood that reflects the history of both an industrial revolution and how it influenced the immigration from Europe into this area of the world.

This district was originally a tiny hamlet outside of Philadelphia. As the industrial revolution began to take over the area, South Philly was consolidated into the urban center through the 1864 Act of Consolidation. There was a major influx of immigrants from Ireland, Italy and various other European countries in response to the need for workers in the factories. This migration continued throughout the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th century.

South Philadelphia, a mix of different cultures

Coupled with this was the migration of African Americans from the South to multiple industrial centers throughout the North. The result of these migrations and immigrants is a neighborhood that is full of diversity and cultural flavor. One of these areas was in the matter of religion. Philadelphia identified as a predominantly Protestant city. The incoming Catholic immigrants were concerned about holding onto their faith in this Protestant district.

Their response was to create a network of Catholic churches and schools, which started off as Irish-centric. Over time, other ethnicities built their own Catholic churches reflecting their specific cultural and ethnic references. Thus, these immigrants maintained their religious identity in their new home. Within this district was one of the first enclaves of Jewish immigrants in the area, known as Queen Village.

Another example is the festivals that have been maintained throughout the years, reflecting the cultures that live within the bounds of this diverse district. One such festival is the Italian Market, an annual festival held on South 9th Street. This particular area is also home to the Italian Market, which provides restaurants, retail and groceries with an Italian bent. This is just one example of how these immigrants maintained their cultural traditions and heritage, but there are so many others.

Yet within the district, there are no specific boundaries between the cultures. Therefore, the neighborhood offers Italian, Asian and other ethnic foods within just a few blocks from each other. While the influx of workers came with the industrial revolution, changes in the economy also saw the population of this neighborhood shrink in the late 20th century. Yet with the revitalization of Center City, the main business district, South Philly has begun to see some gentrification and the resulting increase in housing prices.

This area is also been made famous as the backdrop to Rocky and its sequels, specifically the Italian Market. The South Philadelphia Sports Complex is also home to all of the city’s professional and college sports. This includes football, arena football, basketball and baseball. There are many other landmarks and areas of note throughout this unique and diverse slice of Philadelphia.

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