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Living Here

Neighborhood: Point Breeze | PDF Version [255 KB]


Population 16,618
Workforce 4,479
Housing Units 8,073
Households 6,632
Owner Occupied 51%
Renter Occupied 49%

Population -7%
Housing Units
-1%
Households 0%
Share of 25-34 year olds 26%

The name Point Breeze comes from an amusement park that once overlooked the Delaware River in South Philadelphia. In 1906, the park contained the nation's largest carousel. The Point Breeze amusement park was eventually demolished, becoming the site of the Western Power Plant. Today, the neighborhood extends beyond the initial park site, stretching from Washington Avenue to Moore Street, between Broad and 25th Streets.

The Point Breeze neighborhood was initially settled in the late 19th century. At first, the residents were primarily working-class Eastern European Jews, but as time went on, an influx of Italian and Irish immigrants moved into the area. In the 1930s, a number of African American families arriving from the South also chose to settle in Point Breeze. This diverse community contained a mix of residential and commercial properties, with the majority of businesses lining Point Breeze Avenue. The area contained shops and restaurants ranging from clothing stores to Jewish butcher shops and a movie theater. With so many local businesses, Point Breeze was able to function as a self-sufficient neighborhood, with most residents living and working in close proximity.

It was not until World War II that Point Breeze began to decline. Race riots in the 1960s, followed by the heroin epidemic of the 1970s, had a negative effect on the neighborhood and residents, and businesses began moving away from the area.

Currently, groups such as H.O.M.E.S. and the Universal Companies are working to build affordable housing and are revitalizing the area in the process. Over 400 homes have recently been renovated, and two charter schools have opened. Other local institutions, notably the Point Breeze Performing Arts Center, are drawing people back to the neighborhood. The Performing Arts Center was founded in 1984 and has provided instruction and performance opportunities to young students pursuing a career in the arts.