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Research Gaps & Open Questions

Though there is some insurance data available for the demolished structures (see Insurance & Ownership), the bulk of the building data available for Almond / Kenilworth Street is for those that remain. The buildings that were lost below 100 Kenilworth, between Front and the river, were largely undocumented by the city or other agencies or interested parties before their destruction. Further research into the structures that were lost would provide greater breadth to the story of the lives of Southwark residents.

The maps below give an indication of the area demolished by the highway project.


Click maps to enlarge.

Left: Image reproduced from A Plan of the City of Philadelphia (London, B. Eastburn, 1776).
Right: Image showing the blocks between Delaware Avenue and 3rd Street reproduced from City Atlas of Philadelphia by Wards (Philadelphia, C.M. Hopkins, 1875) Vol. 6, Plate A.

Comparison with late 20th & early 21st century census data is not included here. In spite of great concern for the welfare of Southwark with the introduction of Interstate 95, the area is more prosperous now than ever. For the first time in its history, Southwark is home to upper and middle income families and real estate prices in the area indicate that it is a trendy new place to live. It would be an interesting exercise to compare relative income levels, professions and population density today with that of the earlier centuries to understand its cause and impact on those who have since moved on.

Conclusions

Evidence of the structures along Almond / Kenilworth Street support Margaret Tinkcom's assertion that Southwark contained some of the oldest in the city. The fact that so many of the early structures survived through time is possibly a result of their owners' inability or unwillingness to put the funds into repairs or modernization.

Until only very recently in its 300-year history, Almond / Kenilworth Street has been home to the working classes. As industrialization evolved in Philadelphia, so did the landscape. Homes were replaced by factories and jobs along the river were replaced by work in those factories. Over time, the economic fortunes of the residents lagged further and further behind the general population. Overcrowding was an ever-present factor and the changing waves of immigrants left their marks on the neighborhood. The Irish and Germans were replaced by Poles and Russians. The Presbyterians were followed by Catholics and then the Jews. The arrival of each marks a chapter in the history of the place.

The history of Philadelphia that is often presented celebrates and glamorizes the Colonial past. The history of Southwark, while not broadly publicized, is equally abundant and important to the story of the city. The evolution of the area is ongoing and, in spite of the intrusion of the highway, the neighborhood's rich history and sense of community are still tangible.