August 17, 1995 |
Mayor Rendell was in a jovial mood yesterday as he stood beside a shimmering city pool that vandalism and neglect had closed seven years ago. And why not? The bathing-suit clad mayor was preparing to cut a ribbon and collect some political capital. The city has spent $300,000 to repair the pool and bathhouse at 39th and Olive in the Mantua section of West Philadelphia - a place better known lately as a killing field for battling drug gangs. Around him were several hundred children staring at the calm waters and wondering when the pols would stop talking.
August 1, 1995 |
The patch of weeds grows thick at North 34th and Fairmount, clover and lace and flowers bursting like little sunsets. On a horizon of crumbling rowhouses and angry squares of dirt, it is the brightest thing around. This evening, at sundown, it offers no boundaries for the three children running in circles through the waist-high blossoms. "That's where they catch grasshoppers. " The voice is high yet confident and clear. A peanut-size child steps from a porch overlooking the field of untamed grass.
November 21, 2013 |
The Locust Moon Comics shop and art gallery at South 40th and Ludlow Streets is a welcoming environment, lined with couches and cast in bright lighting, topped with a tony, tin ceiling, and filled with everything comics geeks could desire, from Little Nemo tchotchkes and Dark Knight ephemera to a happy cat named Rooster. Locust Moon is just a dozen or so blocks from "The Bottom," the bombed-out 42d and Ogden Street area of illustrator/storyteller Rob Woods' childhood, where hard crime has run rampant for as long as anyone can remember.
April 9, 2003 |
Minnie Jackson remembers 30 years ago when all the houses on her Mantua block were filled with happy neighbors who hung flowers off their porches, swept the street, and held block parties. One by one, as the people aged and died, their homes died, too. Left abandoned by everyone but drug dealers and squatters, the houses began to deteriorate. The windows shattered, the roofs caved in, the floors collapsed, and this West Philadelphia neighborhood turned into a textbook example of urban blight.
September 20, 1999 |
Tucked in the woods off Tyler Mill Road is a quiet blue warehouse. Quiet, that is, until the third Saturday of each month. Then, at 7:30 p.m, the walls buzz with the bass of heavy metal bands, and a crowd of as many as 400 people begins to roar at the spectacular mainstage production. Take last month's performance, one that still has people talking: A man hurled himself from a skylight to bodyslam his opponent, who lay, covered with thumbtacks, on a stack of flaming cafeteria tables.
April 23, 1995 |
Police kept watch as Walter Williams made his second trip in two weeks to a funeral at Christ Community Baptist Church. Only this time, the funeral was his. Waves of grief rolled over the small, West Philadelphia church as relatives and friends mourned the 17-year-old father of two, who was gunned down in a blizzard of gunfire on April 15. The ambush by four masked men greeted Williams as he was returning to his Mantua neighborhood from...
August 16, 2015 |
Chris Ruder walked onto the set, and he looked a little nervous. But he didn't miss a beat and quickly broke into his pitch. "Spikeball is poised to be the next great American sport," he said. He was on the set of Shark Tank , the reality-TV series where aspiring entrepreneurs make pitches to a team of "shark" investors (with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban the most notable). The episode featuring Ruder, CEO of Spikeball, ran this year as the Season 6 finale. "Like all great sports, Spikeball is very easy to learn, but really, really difficult to master," he said in his pitch.
July 7, 1994 |
The Mantua Community Center is one of many that receives weekly visits from the Reading Terminal Farmers Market Trust, organized to sell fresh produce in various parts of the city. Mantua resident Herb Prince (center) helps Dorothy Baldwin pick out a melon. John Vrazo (left), represents the Trust.
January 14, 2014 |
It's a part of West Philadelphia known mostly for hardship and hard tries. The infamous Lex Street massacre occurred there, when gunmen lined up 10 people in the dining room of a crack house and opened fire, killing seven in 2000. It also was the home turf of the late, fearless antidrug activist Herman Wrice, whom President George H.W. Bush called "the John Wayne of Philadelphia. " Now, government officials and community activists say this stricken stretch of the city has a chance to become known for something else: revival.
June 30, 2015 |
SHE MOVED her kids to Hilton Street a few years ago, a stone's throw from the coral reef of humanity that wraps around Kensington and Allegheny avenues and the Market-Frankford El. Their block looks like an old prizefighter who punched above his weight for too long: cracked windows here, boarded-up doorways there, and jagged gaps where homes once stood. Paradise, it's not. But "Gringa" - that's her nickname, the only name she felt comfortable sharing - did her best to keep her kids happy and safe, letting them splash around in a little wading pool right under her nose, on the sidewalk in front of their house.