Belmont is bounded by 40th and 44th Streets to the east and west, and Mantua and Haverford Avenues to the north and south. It was founded in 1885 and named after the illustrious Belmont Mansion, which still stands in West Fairmount Park. The name Belmont means "beautiful mountain" or "beautiful view" and was meant to illustrate the serene vista that the neighborhood could enjoy overlooking the Schuylkill river valley.
Today Belmont has seen its share of vacancy and divestment, but is still a proud and diverse community of families, many of whom share a long history of living in the neighborhood. Belmont's main institutions are the Belmont Academy and Charter schools, the Sara Allen senior housing facility, and the historic commercial corridor along Lancaster Avenue - the famous Lincoln Highway. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a famous speech in Belmont at 40th and Lancaster in 1965, which is memorialized by a mural and bust at that intersection today.
Parkside is bound by Fairmount Park, Lancaster Ave, Mantua Ave, and Girard. The neighborhood is bisected into East Parkside and West Parkside by Belmont Avenue. The majority of this area was developed when it was chosen as the location of the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, the United States' first World's Fair. Philadelphia’s booming economy and subsequent overcrowding spurred many people to move to Parkside near the end of the 1800s. This section of West Philadelphia is home to some of Philadelphia’s most exquisite residences with large mansions and several smaller row homes with copper plated bays. East Parkside is only blocks away from the Philadelphia Zoo, Please Touch Museum, Memorial Hall, and other attractions. Today, East and West Parkside are inhabited by proud and diverse communities with longstanding histories in the area.
Mantua is located north of Spring Garden Street, east of 40th Street, south of Mantua Avenue, and west of 31st Street. Mantua was founded in 1809 by Judge Richard Peters, who named the area Mantua after the city in Italy. During the late 19th century, the area developed quickly and many of the famous Philadelphian brownstone row houses were built in this area. Mantua experienced a downturn in the 20th century, undergoing disinvestment and blight. Prominent community leaders rose in the 1960s to promote their neighborhood and address inequality, drugs, and crime. Today, Mantua’s community boasts a rich history of community involvement.
Mill Creek is bound by West Girard Ave to the north, Belmont Avenue to the east, 52nd Street to the west. The area was originally settled by the Leni-Lenape Native Americans, who called it “Nanganesey”. Mill Creek is named after a creek of the same name that ran through the area. The creek’s water powered the grain, textile, and other mills along the Schuylkill River. In the 1880s, the creek was buried underground and converted into a sewer system. Mill Creek became one of Philadelphia's first racially integrated communities in the 19th century. Today, Mill Creek is home to many urban farms, playgrounds, and active community members.
Powelton Village was defined by Spring Garden Street, Lancaster Ave. and 31st Street. Most of the houses were built between 1860 and 1900. It was built on the former estates of Samuel Powel and William Bingham. They were two of the wealthiest men in Philadelphia in 1790. Early residents were store owners and small business owners. There were also many employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad. They ranged from engineers and conductors to many of the top officials. During the 1960s, it was known as a neighborhood with many “hippies” and peace and civil rights activists. The southern part of the neighborhood is now the home of Drexel University.
West Powelton/Saunders Park
The neighborhood of Saunders Park neighborhood is bound by Powelton Avenue and Lancaster Avenue at 38th to the east, Haverford Ave to the north, Market Street to the south, and 46th Street to the west. The area was originally the location of The Old Man’s Home of Philadelphia, established in 1864 near the end of the Civil War, for older men with limited income. Directly across the street at Powelton and Saunders Avenue, was the Pennsylvania Industrial Home for Blind Women, which was established in 1865. Later in 1871, Presbyterian Hospital was built and completed the institutional triangle. The Old Man’s Home relocated in 1973 to the campus of Lankenau Hospital, and was renamed Saunders House. Presently West Powelton/Saunders Park is enjoyed by residents, neighbors, college students and faculty, hospital staff and patients, visiting family and friends, and passersby. Community events, birthday parties, and barbecues keep the neighborhood alive. West Powelton/Saunders Park is a small community of diverse but connected, concerned neighbors.