The place where you live: Point Breeze

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

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Boundaries: Alter (near Washington Avenue) to McKean streets, Broad to 27th streets

Population: 25,000

Demographics: Black, 78 percent; white, 8 percent; Asian, 11 percent; Latino, 2 percent; other, 1 percent. About 30 percent of the population is under 18.

Origin of name: The earliest references to Point Breeze date to 1895.

Brief history: Prior to World War II, Point Breeze was tidy and well-maintained. Its thriving business district -- Point Breeze Avenue -- was filled with restaurants and stores. But over the years, the businesses suffered from neglect, setting the tone for the entire neighborhood. Drugs, blight and crime crept in, seemingly for good.

The area took more hits as its population dropped. Point Breeze lost 10 percent of its residents between 1990 and 2000. Lacking in enrollment, St. Charles Borromeo School, 2019 Montrose St., closed last year, leaving the neighborhood without a Catholic school.

Point Breeze has not been without its believers, however. The Point Breeze Performing Arts Center opened at 1717-21 Point Breeze Ave. 20 years ago and has professionally trained scores of dancers.

Universal Companies, based at 15th and Catharine streets, took on the mission of revitalizing South Philly's blighted areas in the mid-'90s. Portions of Point Breeze will be aided by Universal founder Kenny Gamble's $100-million plan to build and renovate 400 homes between South and Federal streets west of Broad to 19th. The nonprofit company envisions eventually constructing about 2,000 homes in the area surrounding its headquarters.

Universal is also in the education business, running William S. Peirce Middle School, 24th and Christian streets, and Edwin M. Stanton Elementary, 17th and Christian, for the School District of Philadelphia. Edwin H. Vare Middle School, 24th Street and Snyder Avenue, has been converted to a charter, also under the company's operation. The organization also has its own charter school, Universal Institute, 801 S. 15th St.

Famous residents: Miami Heat forward Rasual Butler, from 20th and Manton streets; Anthony Burrell, 22nd and Dickinson streets, is a product of the Point Breeze Performing Arts Center and now is a backup dancer for Beyonc�; legendary jazz musicians the Heath Brothers -- tenor saxophonist Jimmy, drummer Albert and bass player Percy; Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, lead vocalist/rapper of Grammy Award-winning band The Roots, from 23rd and Watkins streets; H. Patrick Swygert, president of Howard University, from 15th and Wharton streets

Major landmarks: The Point Breeze Performing Arts Center and the avenue itself, once a major shopping district.

Architecture: Rowhouses and townhouses

Median home sale price: $55,000

State Senate district: First, Vincent Fumo (D); Eighth, Anthony Williams (D)

State House district: 186th, Harold James (D)

City Council district: Second, Council President Anna Verna (D)

Ward: Second

Police district: 17th

Civic groups and townwatches: Point Breeze Civic Association, Point Breeze Community Development Coalition

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Comments 1 - 7 of 7
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1. Bobby said... on Aug 25, 2008 at 03:39PM

“hello I would just like to say that i just bought 2 houses on 21st and earp street and my friends are buying houses on ellsworth and wharton and titian and many other streets I personaly am trying to make a change to point breeze. with me and my friends help we can change things for the better around here. We are the gus you see renovating many houses around the area. My company is Triple R's Drywall. Put I just wanted to say that the people of point breeze are some of the nicest down to earth people i have met so far in philly, I am from N.E. philly and believe me the people there are not half as good as many people i met in point breeze. Everybody seems to be willing to lend a helping hand. I would love nothing more than to see this area get some respect that it and its people deserve. Well thats my peice hope to change this area, I am working on it !! ”

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2. Claudia S, Sherrod said... on Feb 7, 2010 at 04:31PM

“South Philadelphia H..O.M.E.S. Inc. has been working for Point Breeze since 1964; Incorporated 1967; built 24 new homes 1981; rehabed under the HRP program one house 2000; renovated two offices;; we have offered financial literacy for over 15 years along with computer classes; HEMAP; one on one counseling and we have a two to three year leadership program with I-Lead College; an Associate Degree is the finale goal of this program.We also have two programs that build up the corridor: We oversee a Corridor Manager; have cleaners to sweep the Breeze. We also have the Clean Lot Program.

We are located 1444 Point Breeze Avenue; our former home was 1314 S. 22nd Street.”

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3. Allan W. said... on Apr 14, 2010 at 06:24PM

“First off before I get into my train of thought I agree with Bobby about Point Breeze being the friendliest neighborhood in Philadelphia.
I too bought a home (shell) in Point Breeze a couple of years ago and have been slowly fixing it up for the purpose of living in it with my wife. The main reason I bought into Point Breeze is the perfect location to all parts of the city. It's within walking distance of Center City, West, and Avenue of the Arts.
In my walk of the neighborhood and found this wonderful cafe, "Cafe Chocolate" on Snyder Avenue above 21st. I'm still exploring the area and hoping to find new places to try.

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4. preetispurpose said... on Oct 8, 2010 at 06:26PM

“Great article! Thanks for all the information. As a Point Breeze resident I have to say I feel at home here more than anywhere else I've lived so far. The issues of crime stem from the same source as most social problems: education, employment, discrimination, lack of resources, ignored populations. I always feel "safe" in PB...knowing though that safety/ fear are just perceptions. I've crossed paths with shootings, drug dealing, street harassment, but despite that I still feel ok. It can be found anywhere in the city/ world when the above factors intersect. I've learned it's all about getting to know your neighbors. Blocks are pretty tight around here, and people are good to one another. I have a few postings about the area on my blog as well. Newbold Neighbors Association has done so much to revitalize and inspire the area/ people.”

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5. Anonymous said... on Jan 17, 2011 at 01:25PM

“my boyfriend just put a down payment on an apartment on 16th and federal without me seeing the neighborhood or the place. When mentioning it to some of my regulars at my pub they freaked. Saying the neighborhood is sketchy. I drove by last night and was not happy with his decision. I am about to tell him he is on his own and that i am not moving in. If you guys can give me any reasons to move that would be helpful. Because at this point I am telling him he is out of the down payment because im not moving in! (Current resident of south philly pennsport)”

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6. WATCHING YOU said... on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:31PM

“The clean lot progam ,for point breeze is this the one where your whole family works????. thanks for your years of work in point breeze,its the back room deals thats going to be your down fall,hope things work out for you and the H. O. M .E .S”

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7. Nate Chatmon said... on Jul 14, 2011 at 05:44AM

“Point Breeze Facts-7/14/11

Location: Pine Sts. (South) to Tasker Sts. (North)
Broad Sts. (West) to Schuykill Ave. (East)
Population: 41,838
Blacks:25,988 Whites:7,673 Hispanics:882 Asians:1,034 Others:6,261
Households: 18,025
House Value Range: $36,000 to $350,000
U.S. Gov't. Neighborhoods: Point Breeze and Grays Ferry
Zip Code: 19146
Major Organizations: South of South Neighbors Association, South Phila. H.O.M.E.S. Inc., Point Breeze Avenue Business Association Inc., Universal Companies, Point Breeze Community Development Coalition Inc., Neighbors In Action, Point Breeze Pioneers, Newbold Neighbors Association
U.S. Stimulus Funds: $4,193,375 as of 7/13/11
Special Note: Diversified Community Services Inc. recieved a sum total of
$1,366,666.00 U.S. Stimlulus Funds


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