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Fairhill
Neighborhood of Philadelphia
Country  United States
State Pennsylvania
County Philadelphia County
City Philadelphia
Area code(s) Area code 215

Fairhill is a neighborhood on the east side of the North Philadelphia section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Fairhill is bordered by Front Street to the east, Germantown Avenue to the west, Glenwood Avenue to the north and northwest, and York Street to the south. The neighborhood serves as the center of the Hispanic community of Philadelphia, and is known for its "El Centro de Oro" commercial strip along North 5th Street. The neighborhood is also the center of the Philadelphia Badlands. Fairhill is adjacent to Harrowgate and West Kensington to the east, Hartranft to the south, Glenwood to the west, and Hunting Park to the north.

History

The area that is now the Fairhill neighborhood was at one time home to the Isaac Norris family’s Fair Hill estate. Norris was an early merchant and later mayor of Philadelphia. It is also home to the Fair Hill Burial Ground, a cemetery that Quakers established in 1703. George Fox obtained the land for the cemetery from William Penn. The cemetery is on the National Register for Historic Places.

Fairhill began to develop its urban character in the 1880s. Many of the new residents at this time were German immigrants, particularly German Catholics. With the approval of the Archdiocese and the help of Fr. Henry Stommel of Doylestown, the German Catholic families in the area established Saint Bonaventure Parish (also known as Saint Bonaventura) in 1890. The original parish building was at Ninth and Auburn Streets. After establishing the parish, Fr. Stommel turned over its leadership to Fr. Hubert Hammeke, a German immigrant priest. In 1894, the parish began building a Gothic style church. Fr. Hammeke served as the project manager for the church’s construction and construction on the new church finished in 1906. The finished church at Ninth and Cambria Streets included an impressive clock tower and spire. Fr. Hammeke would lead the parish until his death in 1937.

In the 1950s, the demographics of the Fairhill area began to change. The German-American families began leaving the neighborhood with African-Americans and Latinos – mainly Puerto Ricans – taking their place. By 1975, the parish had initiated a Spanish mass and a Carino Center for Spanish-speaking children. The parish, including the school, closed in 1993; St. Bonaventure Parish church was demolished in 2013-14.

Demographics

As of the census of 2010, the racial makeup of Fairhill is 80.2% Hispanic of any race, 15.1% non Hispanic Black, 2.3% non Hispanic White, 1.4% Asian, and 1% all other. It has the highest concentration of Hispanics of any neighborhood in Philadelphia, which is over 10 times larger than the overall percentage of Hispanics living in Philadelphia. The neighborhood is mainly made up of Puerto Ricans, But also has significant populations of Dominicans, Cubans, Colombians, and Brazilians, as well as other Hispanics. Its poverty rate is 61%, which is about five times the national average, as of Census 2010. The neighborhood is sometimes nicknamed "El Centro de Oro" (Spanish for "the center of gold"), and is considered to be the center of the city's Hispanic community.

Fairhill, among other areas of eastern North Philadelphia, is known for having some of the highest concentrations of Puerto Ricans in the United States outside Puerto Rico (which is a US territory). Furthermore, the area west of 5th street is over two-thirds Hispanic, with the remaining nearly one-third being black, while areas of the neighborhood east of 5th street is nearly 100 percent Hispanic.

In 2002 23.5% of the houses in Fairhill were occupied by the owners. 85% of the housing in Fairhill consists of row houses. 2.6% of the buildings in the area are zoned for commercial use; Steve Volk of Philadelphia Weekly stated that efforts to replace drug dealing with legitimate commercial activity have been stymied in recent years. As of Census 2010, Zip Code 19133 which encompasses most of Fairhill and portions of neighboring Glenwood and Hartranft, is the poorest zip code in Philadelphia, having a poverty rate of 61% and a median household income of $14,185.

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