North of Center: A History of North Broad Street

Posted by on January 25, 2010

February & March: North of Center: A History of N. Broad Street

April 24: 2nd Annual Treasures of North Philadelphia Open House

Please join the North Philadelphia Arts and Culture Alliance (NPACA) for several upcoming events focused on Central North Philadelphia.  North of Center: A History of N. Broad Street will explore the art, architecture, culture and community through a series of programs featuring Central North Philadelphia institutions.  From an overview of the neighborhood to investigative youth projects, North of Center will present knowledge and interpretation into the remarkable past of this thoroughfare. Coming up on April 24th, the 2nd Annual Treasures of North Philadelphia Open House will feature special programs at over a dozen cultural organizations making an impact in this neighborhood.

Details about these events are forthcoming at  All events are free and open to the public.



A History of North Broad Street: A Lecture by Robert Morris Skaler
Thursday, February 11, 5 pm
Wagner Free Institute of Science
1700 West Montgomery Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19121

Noted historian and architect Robert M. Skaler will present a lecture and a series of images illustrating the development of North Broad Street in the 19th century. While prosperous, North Broad Street was respectable but never really fashionable, as a “north” address did not have the cache of one south of Market Street to Philadelphia’s traditional elite class ensconced around Rittenhouse Square. Perhaps to compensate for this lack of social standing, residents of North Broad Street built their houses and churches grander than many in Center City preferring the clean “Uptown” air to that of the old Quaker City with its cramped hurley-burley. In addition, it is the home of Temple University and the Wagner Free Institute of Science. North Broad Street was also the center of social life of upper class German Jews who built four major synagogues, and the impressive Mercantile Club on Broad below Jefferson Street. Cosponsored by Avenue of the Arts, Inc.; Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia; and Temple University’s General Activities Fee.

Robert M. Skaler is a forensic architect and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture. He is a Past President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Victorian Society, board member of the Old York Road Historical Society member of the Union League of Philadelphia, and is an adviser to several Historic Societies. His books entitled West Philadelphia, University City to 52nd Street, Philadelphia’s Broad Street, South & North, and Society Hill & Old City, and Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square with co-author Tom Keels, are pictorial histories of Philadelphia.

Following his lecture Mr. Skaler will sign copies of his book Philadelphia’s Broad Street, South & North.

Voice of Philadelphia: Podcast Presentations by Tree House Books Students
Thursday, February 18, 5 pm
Tree House Books
1430 W. Susquehanna Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19121

During the summer 2009 program “Voice of Philadelphia,” Tree House Books’ students captured the voices that make up their surrounding community. Several students had the opportunity to interview family members and friends.  They were also given the opportunity to travel to a Center City law office to interview Sharif Street, who is a former Diamond Street resident and former Mayor Street’s son.  From the sounds captured, campers created their very own podcasts that share their understanding of the neighborhood.

The Tree House students will also share their new, in-process podcast of local businessman and historian, Donald Williams.  Don is the owner of Don’s Doo-Shop, and he has cut the hair of many of the famous musicians who performed years ago at the Uptown Theater, just around the corner from his shop.

Come and join us as we listen to the voice of Philadelphia!

Finding Northadelphia: Film screening by Youth Empowerment Services
Thursday, March 11, 5 pm
Freedom Theatre
1346 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19121

The student-made documentary Finding Northadelphia explores the history of North Philadelphia by visiting various landmark institutions and organizations including the Uptown Theater, Freedom Theatre, the Philadelphia Doll Museum, and community newspaper Scoop USA.

With the guidance of instructors Stephen Gardner and Jeannine Cook, Finding Northadelphia was planned, filmed and edited by students of Youth Empowerment Services (YES), a non-profit organization dedicated to youth from all over the city who’ve dropped out of school or are otherwise unemployed.

Following the film screening, a tour of Freedom Theatre will be offered.


On Saturday, April 24th, the 2nd Annual Treasures of North Philadelphia Open House will feature over a dozen organizations making an impact in the arts and cultures of North Philadelphia.  Participants include Avenue of the Arts; LaSalle University Art Museum; Philadelphia Doll Museum; Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia; Taller Puertorriqueño; Temple Gallery, Tyler School of Art; Tree House Books; University Community Collaborative of Philadelphia; Village of Arts and Humanities; Wagner Free Institute of Science; White Lodge Gallery; and more!  Cosponsored by Temple University’s General Activities Fee.

Learn more at

About The North Philadelphia Arts and Culture Alliance

The North Philadelphia Arts and Culture Alliance is dedicated to promoting the diverse arts and culture organizations of North Philadelphia, and establishing this district as a destination for cultural, visual and performing arts.  We strive to inspire professional, organizational, and cross-cultural collaboration and exchange, and to promote awareness of our resources to the surrounding community and beyond through accessible literature, programs and events.  The North Philadelphia Arts and Cultural Alliance is supported by the Department of Exhibitions and Public Programs, Tyler School of Art, Temple University.

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