Archives: April 2013

Neighborhood Profile: BALA CYNWYD

Posted on: April 29, 2013

History:  Bala Cynwyd is a community in Lower Merion Township which is located on the Main Line in southeastern Pennsylvania, bordering the western edge of Philadelphia at US Route 1. It was originally two separate towns, Bala and Cynwyd, but is commonly treated as a single community. Bala Cynwyd lies in the Welsh Tract of Pennsylvania and was settled in the 1680s by Welsh Quakers, who named it after the town of Bala and the village of Cynwyd in Wales.

(From Wikipedia)

Boundaries: Bala Cynwyd extends west of the Philadelphia city limits represented by City Line Avenue from Old Lancaster Road at 54th Street west to Meeting House Lane and then along Manayunk and Conshohocken State Roads north to Mary Watersford Road, then east along Belmont Avenue back to City Line.

Zip Codes:  19004.

What To See / Do:  West Laurel Hill Cemetery, History and Landmarks

More Information: The Neighborhood Club of Bala Cynwyd

Schools: Cynwyd Elementary SchoolBala Cynwyd Middle SchoolLower Merion High School, Catholic Merion Mercy  Academy, Waldron Mercy AcademyFrench International School.

Public Transportation: SEPTA’s  Cynwyd Line


Greenest of the green: Top efficiency-boosting home improvements

Posted on: April 25, 2013

Forget wondering who’s the fairest; when it comes to choosing home improvements that make your home look good — from the curb and to potential buyers — it may make more sense to ask “Who’s the greenest of them all.” Sustainable home improvements not only help reduce utility costs and boost owner satisfaction with their homes, they also make a house more appealing to potential buyers… MORE

(From The Morning Call)







Neighborhood Profile: SOUTH PHILADELPHIA

Posted on: April 22, 2013

History:   South Philadelphia began as a satellite town of Philadelphia, with small townships such as Moyamensing and Southwark. During the Industrial Revolution,  the area saw rapid growth, in part due to mass immigration from Ireland. Its urbanized border reached that of Philadelphia. Along with all other jurisdictions in the county, South Philadelphia became part of the City of Philadelphia proper with passage by the Pennsylvania legislature of the city/county Act of Consolidation, 1854. The area continued to grow, becoming a vital part of Philadelphia’s large industrial base and attracting immigrants from Italy, Ireland and Poland and many other countries during the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as Black American migrants from the southern United States during the Great Migration of the early 20th century. The immigrants and migrants became the basis of South Philadelphia’s unique and vibrant culture that developed over the next several decades.

Most of South Philadelphia’s communities are largely Italian American. There also continue to be many ethnic Irish Americans and African Americans. An increase in late 20th-century immigration has given South Philadelphia significant populations from Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand; as well as from Russia and Mexico, and smaller groups from dozens of nations across the world. Today, many vendors at the Italian Market are of Asian descent, and Vietnamese and Thai restaurants are interspersed with historic Italian ones in the Market area. The recent revitalization of Center City Philadelphia and the subsequent gentrification of adjacent neighborhoods has led to dramatic rises in prices of housing in the neighborhoods of historic Queen Village, Bella Vista, and some other parts of South Philadelphia.

Many of the community clubs that create the annual Mummers Parade every New Year’s Day have traditionally been from South Philadelphia, especially those located on the largely Irish American S. 2nd Street (“Two Street”) in the Pennsport neighborhood.

(From Wikipedia)

Boundaries: The neighborhood is bordered by South Street to the north, the Delaware River to the east and south, and the Schuylkill River to the west.

Zip Codes:  19145, 19146, 19147, and 19148.

What To See / Do:  South Philadelphia Sports Complex, The Italian Market, South Street, FDR Park, The Navy Yard.

More Information: Not For Tourists

Schools: South Philadelphia High SchoolAudenried High School, Furness High School, The Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), The Mastery Charter School’s Thomas School,  Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High SchoolPhiladelphia Free School.

Public Transportation: SEPTA’s Broad Street Line subway services South Philadelphia and provides quick access to Center City and North Philadelphia. A number of SEPTA bus routes also serve South Philadelphia, ferrying commuters to and from Center City and its immediate suburbs.


As Seen on On the market: Mt. Airy mansion for $1.3 mil

Posted on: April 22, 2013

A historic Mt. Airy mansion is on the market for $1.3 million. (Hillary Petrozziello / Staff Photographer)

(Hillary Petrozziello / Staff Photographer)
Lauren Mennen,


Thirty years ago, Carol Schwartz had a vision.

She and her husband, Elliot, were going to move into the Mt. Airy Mansion located at 7360 Huron Lane. But there was one problem: It wasn’t on the market yet.

A decade later in 1993, after Carol Schwartz kept an eye on the French Normandy-style home and became friendly with the owners, the house was finally for sale.

Elliot Schwartz was reluctant at first about purchasing the property when his wife approached him. His three kids were grown and were either graduated from college or about to graduate. He and his wife didn’t need all that space.

But it didn’t take a lot of convincing for Elliot Schwartz to purchase the 8,300 square foot home located in the French Village of the popular northwest Philadelphia neighborhood. He appreciated the beauty and the history of the home, and he wanted to make his wife happy.

“She would tell everyone ‘this is my dream house, this is the most special place I’ve ever seen,’” Elliot Schwartz said.

Elliot Schwartz soon fell in love with the home as well, and the couple, who owns the Carol Schwartz Gallery in Chestnut Hill, moved in.

The Schwartzs enjoyed the home together for the next two decades, until Carol Schwartz lost a battle to thyroid cancer and passed away in October 2012.

Now Elliot Schwartz, who had 20 years of wonderful memories in the home with his wife, is ready to scale down to a smaller property. He has put the home on the market for $1.3 million.

The fond memories isn’t the only thing Schwartz cherishes about the home. Schwartz, who refers to the home as a “treasure” said much of it is irreplaceable.

The home, with 6 bedrooms and 5 and a half bathrooms was built in 1931 by Mellor, Meigs, and Howe. The famous architects also constructed the PSFS Building in 1932, which was the country’s first International style skyscraper.

All around the home you’ll find original wood carvings, and even an iron fireplace in the living room designed by famous blacksmith Samuel Yellin.

“You can’t replace this,” Schwartz said. “You can’t replace Yellin, you can’t replace the craftsmanship, the way everything is done. No matter what you spend, you can’t replace it.”

The home, which is nestled in the woods on a calm street with just four other homes nearby, also has many other features including a library with original wood paneling and fireplace, a spacious family room, and an eat-in-kitchen. The outside features include a large courtyard, landscape garden, heated indoor pool, and a three car garage.

The home is close to both Fairmount Park and Germantown Avenue, where there are a ton of restaurants and shops.

Schwartz said his home for the past 20 years has been more than just a house to him, and feels he will pass the torch to whoever the next homeowners are.

“It’s a special story and a special house,” he said. “It’s going to go to someone special. Someone has to appreciate it and love it like she [Carol Schwartz] did.”

Check out a gallery of the property HERE






Neighborhood Profile: FAIRMOUNT

Posted on: April 15, 2013

History:   The name “Fairmount” itself derives from the prominent hill on which the Philadelphia Museum of Art now sits, and where William Penn originally intended to build his own manor house. Later, the name was applied to the street originally called Hickory Lane that runs from the foot of Fairmount hill through the heart of the neighborhood. The area is sometimes referred to as the “Art Museum Area,” for its proximity to and association with the Art Museum.

The nearby Fairmount Park rivals New York’s Central Park in size and beauty. The neighborhood’s north and east sections are occupied by Spring Gardens, a former drug market converted by neighbors into a community garden, and the historic Eastern State Penitentiary, which holds only tourists these days.

The neighborhood’s Fairmount Avenue contains many diverse restaurants, bars and shops. Fairmount Avenue is the dividing line between Fairmount and the Spring Garden neighborhoods. Spring Garden has many large houses built for the managers of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, other professionals, and brewery owners which date back to the 1840s. Green Street is particularly impressive and recalls the area’s past and proud industrial legacy.

Fairmount’s homes were generally smaller row or town houses and the residents were generally working class. Here row houses were interspersed with lumber yards, coal yards, lime yards, iron foundries, bakeries, dry goods stores, as well as several wagon works and stables. Many of these were built in the second half of the 19th century to support small factories and later the large breweries that located there in the late 19th century and reached their zenith in the early 20th century. One of these breweries with its many ancillary buildings has been painstakingly preserved and turned into fashionable condominiums. Of architectural note is Aspen Street’s “Centennial Block”.

Today Fairmount is one of Philadelphia’s most eclectic neighborhoods, combining tourist attractions, row homes, restaurants and of course, the public art and green spaces of Fairmount Park.

(From Wikipedia,,

Boundaries: The neighborhood is bordered by Vine Street to the south, Girard Avenue to the north, the Schuylkill River to the west, and Broad Street to the east.

Zip Code:  19130

What To See / Do: Fairmount Water Works, Boat House Row, The Philadelphia Museum of ArtEastern State Penitentiary, Fairmount Park, Fairmount Art Center.

More Information: NFT: Fairmount

Schools: Bache-Martin School, Laura Wheeler Waring SchoolBenjamin Franklin High School, Philadelphia Mennonite High School, Girard College.

Public Transportation:  SEPTA Bus Routes 7, 32, 43 and 48, SEPTA Route 15 trolley.


Experience! Philadelphia

Posted on: April 11, 2013

With springtime upon us, there is never a lack of exciting things to do in our fair city. In a recent article in the Philadelphia Sun, writer Renee S. Gordon takes us through some interesting options to Experience! Philadelphia

Neighborhood Profile: GERMANTOWN

Posted on: April 8, 2013

History:   The Germantown area of Philadelphia is one of Philadelphia’s oldest settlements. It was originally settled by Mennonite and Quaker German speaking émigrés from Holland, Germany and Switzerland attracted to Philadelphia by William Penn’s promises of religious tolerance.

When Philadelphia was occupied by the British during the American Revolutionary War, several units were housed in Germantown. In the Battle of Germantown, in 1777, the Continental Army attacked these British units. While the Americans sustained heavy losses, the fervor of the Americans helped influence the French to recognize the new American nation.

President George Washington rented the Deshler-Morris House in Germantown to escape the central city and the yellow fever epidemic of 1793. The first bank of the United States was also located in Germantown during his administration. Germantown is home to many of the city’s historic 18th and 19th century homes originally built as suburban retreats for rich Philadelphians.

In the early 1800’s Germantown grew as a manufacturing center of the region. It was officially incorporated into the City of Philadelphia in 1854.

According to Dennis Pickeral, president of Historic Germantown, a consortium of 15 historic sites, Germantown is notable for a number of reasons. “It’s one of America’s most historic neighborhoods. It’s home to America’s longest National Historic district. Seven of its member sites are National Historic Landmarks. If you come out to Germantown, you can touch on just about every aspect and salient point of American history, from the colonial period up through the 20th century. The sites are all very diverse. You have sites like Stenton, which is very early. You have places like Cliveden, which was the site of the only Revolutionary War battle fought within the current city boundaries. We have the city’s only Victorian house museum. We have the home to America’s first paper mill. We have an Underground Railroad museum, the Johnson House. It’s just an incredibly diverse group of sites, and they all tell different and unique stories.”

(From, CBS Philly)

Boundaries: The neighborhood is bordered by  Mount Airy to the Northwest, Nicetown to the south. Logan, Ogontz and West Oak Lane to the East.

Zip Code:  19144

What To See / Do: Colonial Germantown Historic District, Cliveden, Germantown Cricket Club, John Johnson House, Charles Willson Peale House, Wyck House, Awbury Historic District, Tulpehocken Historic District.

More Information: HISTORIC GERMANTOWN: Freedom’s Backyard

Schools: Germantown High SchoolMastery Charter Pickett Campus, Germantown Friends School, Greene Street Friends School, William Penn Charter School.

Public Transportation:  SEPTA Germantown Station, Bus Route 65, Bus Route 23.


It Wasn't Always The Avenue of The Arts

Posted on: April 4, 2013

In this recent article in Hidden Philly, Rachel Hildebrandt, a recent graduate of Penn Design and Philadelphia native, illustrated the development of South Broad over the years, an area that has become in recent years a notable arts hub of the city. From a stretch of vacant lots and urban decay to a thriving arts corridor, this is the story of The Avenue of The Arts

The Wayne Junction area is right on track

Posted on: April 1, 2013

Elfant Wisshickon partner Paul Walsh was quoted in this story in yesterday’s Inquirer about Wayne Junction, the busy transportation hub that straddles the borders of Nicetown and Germantown. To read more, click HERE

Neighborhood Profile: SOCIETY HILL

Posted on: April 1, 2013

History:   The district is named after the 18th century Free Society of Traders, which had its offices at Front Street on the hill above Dock Creek. Located close to both the Delaware River and Philadelphia’s civic buildings, including Independence Hall, the neighborhood soon became one of the city’s most populous areas.

Several market halls, taverns and churches were built alongside brick houses of Philadelphia’s affluent citizens.

In the 19th century, the city expanded westward and the area lost its appeal. Houses deteriorated until the 1950s, when the city, state and federal governments started one of the first urban renewal programs aimed at the preservation of historic buildings. While most commercial 19th-century buildings were demolished, historically-significant houses were restored by occupants or taken over by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and sold to individuals who agreed to restore the exteriors. Replicas of 18th-century street lights and brick sidewalks were added to enhance the colonial atmosphere. Empty lots and demolished buildings were replaced with parks, walkways, and modern townhouses.

Today Society Hill contains more Georgian structures than any neighborhood in the country. The area is now known for a rich cultural and ethnic diversity and remains a mostly residential neighborhood.

(From Wikipedia)

Boundaries: The neighborhood is bordered by Walnut Street to the North, Lombard Street to the South, Front Street to the East and 8th Street to the West.

Zip Code:  19106

What To See / Do: Society Hill Synagogue, St. Peter’s Church, Merchant’s Exchange Building,  Hill-Physick-Keith HousePowel House, Society Hill Playhouse.

Dining, Shopping and Bars: Not For Tourists

Schools: General George A. McCall School, Furness High School.

Public Transportation:  SEPTA bus transportation is available in the neighborhood. Nearby are the Old City and 5th and 8th and Market Stops on The Market-Frankford Line.