Point Breeze, Philadelphia facts for kids

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Point Breeze
Neighborhood of Philadelphia
Point Breeze Avenue street sign at its northern terminus at Federal and 20th streets.
Point Breeze Avenue street sign at its northern terminus at Federal and 20th streets.
Country  United States
State Pennsylvania
County Philadelphia County
City Philadelphia
ZIP Code 19145, 19146
Area code(s) Area code 215

Point Breeze is a multicultural neighborhood in South Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. It is bounded by 25th Street to the west, Washington Avenue to the north, Broad Street to the east, and Mifflin Street to the south. Southwest Center City lies to its north, and Passyunk Square lies to its east. Point Breeze is separated from Grays Ferry to the west by a CSX railway viaduct over 25th Street.

History

According to historical maps, much of what is South Philadelphia including Point Breeze was still not yet developed and integrated into the rectilinear grid system by 1843 or later. "Point Breeze" was a point on the western side of the Schuylkill River approximately where the Passyunk Avenue bridge is today. It and the area across from it on the eastern side of the river were established as an area for oil refinery in the 1860s by Atlantic Petroleum Storage Company, later the Atlantic Refining Company. From this point, oil that had been drilled in Western Pennsylvania could be processed and then shipped down the Schuylkill, to the Delaware and out to sea. The Avenue that connected the city proper to the east side of the river at Point Breeze had existed by 1808 as "Long Lane." In the mid-to-late 1800s, development of Philadelphia continued westward from the Delaware River and southward from Market Street. Long Lane also began to be known as Point Breeze Avenue by 1895 and lent its name to the neighborhood that was to spring up here. "The earliest references to Point Breeze" as a neighborhood "date to 1895." The area was first settled by working-class European Jewish immigrants followed by Italian and Irish immigrants. In 1930s the neighborhood saw an influx of African Americans some of which were involved in The Great Migration escaping Jim Crow in the South and looking for work in the urban centers of the north. At this time the African American epicenter of Philadelphia was shifting from near Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 6th and Lombard to west of Broad.

WashingtonAvenuePhilly
Washington Avenue and 19th Street, looking into Point Breeze

Through the 1960s Point Breeze was reported to be a safe, clean, relatively integrated and self-sufficient neighborhood with a thriving business district along Point Breeze Avenue itself known to residents as "The Breeze." Racial tensions, fear of race riots and white flight in the 1960s and 1970s saw many businesses move away and shifted the demographics of the neighborhood to mostly African American. The Point Breeze Performing Arts Center opened in 1984 on Point Breeze Avenue. Point Breeze lost approximately 10% of its population from 1990 through 2000. Despite this, in the 1990s some revitalization efforts have taken place through such organizations as South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S. and Universal Companies, owned by Kenny Gamble, whom helped build low income housing and schools in the area. Immigrants from Southeast Asia have also moved into Point Breeze in the '90s and 2000s. For example, in the 2000 census Point Breeze contained the highest concentration of Vietnamese in the entire city; over 900 Vietnamese people making up almost 12% of the population of Point Breeze.

In the 2000s and beyond Point Breeze has shown further revitalization partially due to gentrification. Real estate investors like John Longacre and Ori Feibush have begun developing property in Point Breeze, especially along the Broad Street and Washington Avenue corridors.

The George W. Childs School, David Landreth School, Marine Corps Supply Activity, Delaplaine McDaniel School, Jeremiah Nichols School, Walter George Smith School, and the former Francis M. Drexel School are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Name origin

'Point Breeze' was originally the name given to a spot on the west side of the Schuylkill River. Point Breeze Avenue then became the road that cut southwest to provide access to the spot from what was at the time Philadelphia proper. The avenue cuts diagonally through the neighborhood's rectilinear street grid.

Social issues

The Point Breeze neighborhood suffered from abandonment and population decline throughout the mid 20th century. Today it is a neighborhood under revitalization from efforts steered by South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S. Inc. and the Point Breeze Community Development Coalition Inc., in addition to such organizations as Neighbors in Action, Universal Companies, Point Breeze Business Association, Point Breeze Pioneers greening group and other prominent Philadelphia organizations.

Cityscape

Point Breeze is south of Grays Ferry Avenue, north of Passyunk Avenue, and east of the Schuylkill River.

Culture

Keith Haring We Are The Youth
Keith Haring's mural "We Are The Youth" at 22nd and Ellsworth Streets in Point Breeze.

Point Breeze is home to several Philadelphia Mural Arts Program murals. In 1987 Keith Haring collaborated with CityKids a New York-based youth organization to create a mural titled "We Are The Youth" located at 22nd and Ellsworth in Point Breeze. In 2013 the Mural Arts program restored the mural and a small community garden was built beneath it.

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