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The place where you live

Whitman

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Oct. 7, 2004

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Boundaries: Snyder Avenue to Bigler Street, Sixth to Lee streets

Population: 26,300 (combined with Queen Village and Southwark in the 2000 Census)

Demographics: White, 70 percent; black, 17 percent; Asian, 8 percent; Latino, 5 percent. About 40 percent of the population is under 18.

Origin of name: When the neighborhood was declared an urban-renewal area in the mid-1950s, the nearby Walt Whitman Bridge also was being constructed. It was only logical, then, to lend the poet's name to the neighborhood as well.

Brief history: A close neighbor of Pennsport, Whitman rarely distinguishes itself from its river-ward counterpart. Yet residents say its history provides some distinct moments. During the 1950s, for example, the construction of Whitman Park, a low-income housing development, created quite a stir.

"Many residents were opposing them because they didn't think these houses were beneficial to the community," says Terry Paylor, a 46-year Whitman resident. "I can remember people lying in front of bulldozers."

In fact, the Whitman Council (formerly known as the Whitman Area Improvement Council) was established partly to fight a proposal for the three high-rise apartment complexes. The issue gained national attention and, through negotiations and court fights, the plan was modified to instead include 120 low- to moderate-income houses, says Fred Druding, 63.

A former member of the Whitman Council, Druding is now executive director of the Weccacoe Development Association, a nonprofit group under the council's umbrella that rehabs abandoned homes for resale. The neighborhood honored the civic group's founders -- the Rev. Edward Burke and Lawrence Murphy -- by naming facilities after them.

Famous residents: Joey Coyle, who stole $1.2 million that fell from an armored truck. His story was developed into a 1993 movie, Money for Nothing, starring John Cusack.

Major landmarks: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 2329 S. Third St., which is more than 100 years old; Mifflin Square, Fifth and Wolf streets; Whitman Library, 200 Snyder Ave.; Whitman Plaza shopping center, Fourth Street and Oregon Avenue

Architecture: Mostly two-bedroom rowhomes that later were expanded to include extra rooms; most are constructed from brick.

Median home sale price: $97,000

State Senate district: First, Vincent Fumo (D)

State House district: 184th, William Keller (D)

City Council district: First, Frank DiCicco (D)

Ward: 39th

Police district: Fourth

Civic groups and townwatches: Pennsport/Whitman Town Watch, Whitman Council

Schools: George Sharswood Elementary, 2300 S. Second St.; John H. Taggart Elementary, 400 Porter St.; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 2329 S. Third St.

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