Jefferson Square Park and Sacks Playground

These adjacent parks are indicative of the ongoing transition of the neighborhood around Washington Avenue, where the ethnic mix of Irish, Italian, and African Americans – and more recent Southeast Asian and Mexican populations – converge with the young professionals who are moving into new luxury town homes. During the Civil War, Jefferson Square was used as a military encampment and parade ground. After the war, it was designed as a "strolling park," but it fell into disrepair in the 1960s and 1970s. Jefferson Square's companion park, Sacks Playground, sits on the site of the old Southwark Foundry and Machine Company. Both parks have recently been reinvigorated. The arrival of Mexican immigrants and new young professionals reignited community interest in maintaining Jefferson Square, and Sacks Playground is used by South Philadelphia's growing Mexican community for soccer games and other recreation.

Star-patterned Jefferson Square was originally constructed in the early 19th century. During the Civil War, the park was deeded to the Union Army and renamed Camp Jefferson. Located close to taverns, transportation, and military hospitals, Camp Jefferson was ideally situated for a troop encampment. After the war, Jefferson Square was deeded back to City of Philadelphia and was refurbished in the 1870s. Jefferson Square was designed as a "strolling park" with its wide paths, open, pillared entranceways, benches, granite retaining walls, and a central focal point. The Southwark Plaza high-rise housing projects were built just north of the park in 1962. As the Southwark Towers fell into disrepair during the next two decades, the park also languished and was plagued by illegal dumping and drug traffic. Residents rallied to save the park in the 1980s when the city proposed building an enclosed recreation center atop the site. The towers were imploded in 2000 and replaced with low-rise, single family subsidized units. In 2002, the Jefferson Square Community Development Corporation built new town homes bordering the historic park. The use and condition of Sacks Park also fluctuated relative to changes in the surrounding neighborhood. In 2005, Home Depot and the National Council of La Raza, a national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, co-sponsored an initiative to refurbish and clean up Sacks Playground and its recreation facilities.

References

  • Budoff, Carrie. "Residents Protest Renaming of Part of Playground." The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 16, 2005.
  • Couloumbis, Angela. "Tempers Flare Over Tot Lot's Name." The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 17, 2005.
  • Frangipanni, Mary. "Mary Frangipanni's Political Notebook: Fumo? I've got Springsteen." The Philadelphia City Paper, August 17, 1995. Available at: http://www.citypaper.net/articles/081795/article024.shtml
  • Friends of Jefferson Square Park. "Park History." http://jeffersonsquarepark.org/park-history/
  • McCoy, Craig R. "100 Camp Out to Buy New Townhouses in S.Phila." The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 4, 2004.
  • Soto, Ricardo Diaz. 2008. Interview by Joan L. Saverino. Videotape recording. June 23. Philadelphia, PA.
  • Stoiber, Julie. "Putting the Spark Back into City's Parks." The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 1, 2004.
  • Wiegand, Ginny. "Working Hard for a Place to Play." The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 23, 1990.

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Washington Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets

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Shot Tower Conveyed Site of the Southwark Soup Society Weccacoe Engine Co.'s House, and Reception of United Fire Co. of Baltimore Court having nine small houses in rear of a tenement house Mario Lanza Park banner Pelzer Funeral Home Southwark/Queen Village Community Garden Phillips Temple Christian Methodist Church St. Stanislaus Catholic Church Housefronts on 600 Block of Kater Street Bedford Street Mission The Antiquarian's Delight Marmelstein's front window on Fabric Row Casa Ravello Milk Station House of Industry historical marker Graphic Sketch Club Julia and Aldo Allegrini wedding L'Opinione: Il Departmento Circolazione Vietnamese Hung Vuong Association Curtis Publishing Plant/Lofts at Bella Vista Isgro Pastries storefront St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church Verdi Hall Lady of Good Council R.C. Church, Christian above 8th Sts. Interior of Luigi Fiorella Meat Market Italian & American Maccaroni Works Dan Khang Nha Trang sign Anthony's Chocolate House exterior D'Angelo's Specialty Meats storefront Playbill for the "The Passion Play of Christ"  presented by the Filodramatic Circle Gasperinese, 1931 The Procession of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi mural Fante-Leone Public Pool Cannuli Brothers storefront Talluto's Authentic Italian Food storefront Grassia's Italian Market Spice Company Lupita's Grocery Store storefront Paul Giordano Sr. Saigon Maxim restaurant Jefferson Square Mia (left) and Mary (right) Viola St. Maron's Church exterior Bitar's Eastern Mediterranean Grill Southeast Corner - 9th Street and Washington Avenue Washington Avenue Immigration Station
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Image provided by Library Company of Philadelphia Tomasita Romero and Iris Brown. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Tony and Yipp. Image provided by Maria Petrone Tour group at Liberty Lands Park mural. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Tree Carvings by Robert Smith Shabazz. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Trish Fiorella at Fiorella Brothers Sausage. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Trish Fiorella at Fiorella Brothers Sausage. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Two Neighbors. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Verdi Hall. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Vicarious Motherhood. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Vietnamese Hung Vuong Association. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania View of Octavia Hill tenements from Mario Lanza Park. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania View of Schmidt's Brewery neighborhood. Image provided by Temple University Urban Archives Vincent Maurelli with his sister, father, and paternal grandmother. Image provided by Vincent Maurelli W.E.B. Du Bois at Paris Exposition, 1900. Image provided by W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois historical marker. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania W.E.B. Du Bois portrait. Image provided by W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois portrait. Image provided by W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois' data card. Image provided by Univ. of Pennsylvania Archives W.E.B. Du Bois' receipt for printing. Image provided by Univ. of Pennsylvania Archives W.E.B. Du Bois' receipt for printing. Image provided by Univ. of Pennsylvania Archives Wallace/Lynd Street (Originally Paschall's Alley), Race/Ethnicity 1880. Image provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Design Wallace/Lynd Street (Originally Paschall's Alley), Race/Ethnicity 1900. Image provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Design Wallace/Lynd Street (Originally Paschall's Alley), Race/Ethnicity 1910. Image provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Design Wallace/Lynd Street (Originally Paschall's Alley), Race/Ethnicity 1920. Image provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Design Wallace/Lynd Street (Originally Paschall's Alley), Race/Ethnicity 1930. Image provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Design We play in a crack on Christian Street, 435 play yard. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania We slide in a corner of the crack. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania West side of 9th Street. Image provided by Mariella Esposito Window of Fante's, 1956. Image provided by Mariella Esposito Women operating box assembling machines. 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