This narrow street between Bainbridge and South streets was one of the poorest and most dangerous blocks in Philadelphia during the late 19th and early 20th century. Bedford Street was notorious for its decaying two-story bandbox houses and the offal and animal excrement that littered its wooden sidewalks and cobblestone alleyways. The alley housed the city's most recent immigrant groups — Italians and Russian Jews — as well as blacks. It was also home to the Bedford Street Mission. Nineteenth-century writers likened the street to Manhattan's "Five Points"—an infamous and violent slum neighborhood on the island's Lower East Side.
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania. "Bella Vista: Philadelphia's Little Italy." Self-guided walking tour printed guide, Philadelphia, PA: Historical Society of Pennsylvania Honors Summer History Institute, 1983.
- Sewell, Benjamin T., rev. by J.B. McCullough. Sorrow's Circuit, or Five Years Experience in the Bedford Street Mission, Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Bedford Street Mission, 1860. Emily Swift Balch Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.