South Street, Philadelphia
Art space in central Philadelphia
(©urban75, Dec 2008)
Running from east to west in the Center City neighborhood, South Street was originally named Cedar Street in William Penn's plan of Philadelphia, with the thoroughfare marking the traditional southern boundary of the city limits.
Up to the 1950s, South Street was best known as a garment district, but the area rapidly fell from grace after the 'Crosstown Expressway' was proposed.
Not unlike the equally grim 'London Motorway Box' proposals of the 1970s, the Expressway would have cut a swathe along South Street, and as soon as it was announced, property prices plummeted as the smart money fled the area.
Artists, counterculture-types and boho dudes filled the vacuum, taking advantage of the cheap property prices, and by the 1960s and 1970s, South Street was a thriving hub of bars and clubs supporting a strong live music community.
As the area grow in popularity, vast hordes of hipsters flooded in, promptly followed by tourists and then the first smattering of gentrifying yuppies.
With rents heading upwards and corporate chain stores taking an interest, the area is suffering a similar fate as Camden Town, in London.
Although some stretches of South Street remain run down, the main part of the street remains a hip place to hang out for college types, musos, teens and alternative folks, and well worth a visit.
In the office.
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