South Philadelphia nick-named “South Philly” is the section of Philadelphia bounded by South Street to the north, the Delaware River to the east and south, and the Schuylkill River to the west. South Philadelphia is coterminous with the zip codes 19145, 19146, 19147, and 19148. As of the 2000 Census, the population was 162,683. It is an area rich in immigrant culture, the home to many Italian-American and Irish-American families who settled in the area starting in the late 19th and 20th century. Many residents have lived in the neighborhood for decades, and the lovingly maintained homes bring an air of dignity and stability to many blocks. On many of the corners you can find a pizzeria or a family-owned variety store.
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, and eventually saw its urbanization border that of Philadelphia. This led to its incorporation into Philadelphia in 1854. The area continued to grow, becoming a vital part of Philadelphia’s large industrial base and attracting immigrants from Italy, Poland, Russia, and many others countries during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These immigrants became the basis of South Philadelphia’s unique and vibrant culture that would develop over the next several decades. Even with this dramatic growth in population, the low funding of education by the city resulted in the first high school not being formed in South Philadelphia until 1934.
Recently, South Philadelphia has gone through a period of rapid change. An increase in immigration has given South Philadelphia significant populations from Vietnam, China, Puerto Rico, India, Russia, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, as well as smaller populations from dozens of nations across the world. The recent revitalization of Center City Philadelphia has lead to gentrification in Fitler Square, Graduate Hospital/Southwest Center City , which led to skyrocketing prices of housing in Queen Village, and Bella Vista, and some other parts of South Philadelphia. Also, previously, for various reasons, many second and third generation South Philadelphians began moving en masse to South Jersey when the Walt Whitman Bridge was opened in the mid 20th century. These events have resulted in perhaps the largest change in South Philadelphia’s culture in nearly a hundred years.