Exploring The University City Neighborhoods Of Philadelphia.
I had a meeting to attend near Philadelphia last Friday and I decided to stay in the City for the night. I stayed at the Gables Bed and Breakfast, located in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia .I wanted to be near the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge located in South Philadelphia. I enjoyed my two hikes in this oasis of nature in the middle of the city. After my morning hike there on Saturday I returned to the Gables Bed and Breakfast where I enjoyed a delicious breakfast and pleasant conversation with the other guests.
I learned a prominent center city doctor and his family first lived in this beautiful Victorian home in the late 1800’s. I was told it was his “Summer” home outside of the traffic, noise and pollution of the center of the city. It was beautifully restored to depict it’s 19th century splendor. After breakfast I was off to explore the streets of this University City neighborhood. University City was the name given to this section of the city after the urban renewal that occurred in the 1950’s.
The Gables Bed and Breakfast was located at the intersection of 46th and Chester Streets. I learned this is near the border of two smaller and older neighborhoods in University City . I believe the Gables was located in the Spruce Hill neighborhood, and
across 46th street was the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. There was still an active trolley track on Chester Street and I enjoyed seeing the passing trollies.
I walked along 46th Street toward Baltimore Avenue. This street was lined with old Victorian homes, many,
I was surprised to find, with Spring flowers in bloom , including daffodils
and crocuses. It was nice to see these flowers , which, I think, even for southern Pennsylvania were blooming early. It has been very mild Winter in the northeastern United States.
I walked past the impressive St. Francis de Salles Catholic Church. Originally the church was built to serve the large Irish population in the area,
but now also serves the many Vietnamese and other immigrants that now live in the neighborhood.
I continued on toward Baltimore Avenue. Baltimore Avenue was once part of U.S. Highway 1 which I know so well from where it ends in South Florida and the Florida Keys. There was a few business , restaurants and this one gas station along the busy Avenue.
Across Baltimore Avenue it became residential and quiet again. I was now in Garden Court, another neighborhood in University City. I understand it is now a very affluent neighborhood. I only walked in a block into the neighborhood where I saw many old Victorian row homes.
I headed back across Baltimore Avenue. The late February sun had warmed the cold morning air and now I saw a lot of people walking the streets of the neighborhoods. And I quickly learned it was a very diverse group of people who live here. I saw many different races of people and many languages spoken as I walked through the streets.
These neighborhoods were originally developed in the late 1800’s when trolley service arrived from the city. I understand before this it was know as Blockley and had a “bad reputation”. It was known for it’s “shadowy characters and evil doers”. The character of this area certainly has changed as evidenced by these signs in front of so many of the homes. It was now pleasant and peaceful and I would not mind living here.
I enjoy walking in the neighborhoods of cities. You learn so much be observing their homes, gardens , signs,
After crossing Baltimore Avenue again I made my way to Clark Park. This is another neighborhood in University City.
Entering the park I came upon a statue of one of my favorite authors, Charles Dickens. I now liked these neighborhoods even more. And, upon some more exploration, I would like it even more.
I saw a crowd of folks in the park and walked to an outdoor market,
where are sorts of items were being sold including fresh produce,
Those of you who follow my blog know one of my favorite hobbies is searching for and eating wild mushrooms. I was surprised to find so many of my favorite wild varieties sold here.
I did not know they were able to grow them some of them commercially. I had a nice chat with the owner and purchased a few different varieties including one of my favorites, the lion’s mane mushroom.
I prepared them at home and they were delicious. Fresh mushrooms! What a wonderful surprise this was for mid February. I loved the neighborhoods of University City.
I was only a few blocks from the Gables Bed and Breakfast. I walked up Chester Street and finished my brief exploration of University City and a few of it’s many neighborhoods. I hope to explore them again. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos from my walk through the streets of University City. Philadelphia University City walk February 18 2023.
I returned to the Gables Bed and Breakfast,
showered quickly and was soon on my way home. Other than the usual delay on the Schuylkill Expressway it was a nice ride home.
I was only gone a day but I learned a lot more about my favorite city and had some delicious mushroom for dinner. These are fried lion’s mane mushrooms, an unexpected surprise from my visit. I hope to return to Philadelphia and the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge for the Spring song bird migration , and explore more of the City of Brotherly Love.
“To find extraordinary things, go to the ordinary streets!”