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The Floating Bridge across the Schuylkill River at Gray's Ferry was originally built by the British during their 1777-78 occupation of Philadelphia. This was the primary entranceway to the city for travelers from the south until the 1830s.

Grays Ferry, also known as Gray's Ferry, is a neighborhood in South Philadelphia bounded (roughly) by 25th Street on the east, the Schuylkill River on the west, Vare Avenue on the south, and Grays Ferry Avenue on the north. [1] The section of this neighborhood west of 34th Street is also known as The Forgotten Bottom.[2] Grays Ferry shares borders with Southwest Center City to the North, Point Breeze to the East, and Girard Estate to the South. Gray’s Ferry is across from where the Mill Creek debouches at about 43rd street.

Contents

History

The area developed because it was an important crossing of the Schuylkill River, called Mahdee's River. The river is now spanned by several bridges,[3] including the Gray's Ferry Bridge and several rail bridges.

Prior to the Act of Consolidation, 1854, this neighborhood was part of Moyamensing Township. Moyamensing was originally chartered by the Dutch governor Alexander d'Hinoyossa, and in 1684, William Penn confirmed the title.[4]

This neighborhood was once the site of the Schuylkill Arsenal.[5][6]

In the 1700s, Gray's Ferry was the southernmost of three ferries that crossed the Schuylkill River to Philadelphia. The neighborhood's namesake ferry originally belonged to a Benjamin Chambers in the 17th century. By 1747 George Gray had taken over the ferry, and established the nearby Gray's Inn and Gray's Garden, which were popular in the 1790s.[7][8][9][10]

Demographics

  • Black, 56%; White, 39%; Other, 5%.
  • More than 30% of the residents are under 18.
  • Currently the neighborhood, which represents less than 1% of the city’s population, houses more than 10% of the city’s Section 8 residents.[11]

Tasker Homes and Greater Grays Ferry Estates

The Tasker Homes (also known as the Tasker Housing Project) were located at 29th and Morris Streets and visible from the Schuylkill Expressway.[12 ] The housing project was a site of high-crime and a point of tension for residents in Grays Ferry. Originally, the housing project had 1100 units and followed the city's general model of high-density, low-income housing.[13] [12 ]

During Mayor John Street's administration, the Philadelphia Housing Authority began a program to remove blighted, high-density, crime-ridden housing projects and replace them with low-density, townhome-style public housing. In 2004, the Tasker Homes were demolished and replaced with the Greater Grays Ferry Estates.[13] The new townhomes have increased tensions between working-class residents and recipients of Section 8 housing within the neighborhood. The reasons most often cited are memories of the problems with Tasker Homes, as well as the fact that many residents—white and black—do not meet income requirements for the housing.[11]

Racial tension

Over the years the neighborhood has been the scene of numerous instances of racial violence. The Irish Catholics living in the neighborhood's modest row homes clashed with African Americans living in the deteriorating Tasker Housing Project. There have been riots and beatings and, sometimes, killings. Tensions peaked in 1997, when Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan joined marchers to protest racial violence. As the housing market has boomed in Philadelphia, the neighborhood has begun to see some resurgence.

See also

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References


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