Thank you for last night’s presentation about Blissville. The more I reflected on it, the more I thought of similarities to my old neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia, known as Holmesburg. Holmesburg has a rich history, including the King’s Highway, the longest continued use road in the US. Thought you might be interested.
My family lived in Holmesburg for over 100 years. When my mother was born in 1909, there was still farmland. That changed with the development of economical “row” houses during the post-WWII building boom. These provided housing for the many blue collar workers who took the public buses and the “EL” into industrial areas along the Delaware River and to the Navy Shipyard.
Surrounded by the residential area is Pennypack Park, a portion of the city’s large Fairmount Park system. Locals can take walks in nature and feel like they’re leaving the city behind. I remember swimming in summer and ice skating on the Pennypack Creek when it froze over in the winter. Pollution put a halt to the swimming but efforts have been made to clean up the water over the years.
A small community of African Americans has existed in Holmesburg for probably 200 years. They have inhabited the same small area for years.
The commercial areas along Frankford Ave (King’s Highway) have become run-down but a few old businesses have managed to remain. Holmesburg Bakery has the best butter cake around. Alas, I understand DiPalma’s bakery recently closed, no longer offering their tomato pie, much to the chagrin of local residents.
The large stone walls of the Holmesburg Prison near the Delaware river was an imposing edifice, terrifying to a young girl. That too has closed.
My siblings and cousins have all moved away but I keep abreast of the happenings on a Holmesburg facebook page. Current residents seem proud of the old neighborhood and many are involved with documenting its history. I’ve included some links here for you.
Again, thanks for the film. It was a pleasure meeting you.
– Beth L.