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The place where you live

Girard Estate

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Boundaries (includes surrounding areas): Passyunk to Oregon avenues, Broad to 21st streets

Population: 11,500

Demographics: White, 90 percent; black, 4 percent; Asian, 3 percent; other, 3 percent. The majority of residents are of Italian or Irish heritage.

Origin of name: The area was established by the deed of resident Stephen Girard, a French merchant.

Brief history: Girard landed in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. He lived on a plot of land he named Gentilhommiere, located in what was then known as Passyunk Township of Philadelphia County. When Girard died in 1831, most of his $6-million estate was left to the City of Philadelphia. Girard's will stated, however, that the city must establish a college for poor white boys in his name, and that his house must not be sold. In response to the second stipulation, the board of directors of City Trusts started developing the Girard Estate homes, which initially were rentals. In 1950, the city received permission to sell all 481 homes to private owners. Within two years, all the homes were sold.

Famous residents: Stephen Girard

Major landmarks: Girard Park, site of Girard's farm and house, between 21st and 22nd streets and Porter and Shunk; Donatucci Library (formerly Passyunk Library), constructed in 1914 through a grant from railroad tycoon Andrew Carnegie, 20th and Shunk.

Architecture: Outside the Girard Estate historical district, two-story brick rowhomes built in the late 1910s and '20s are most prevalent. Within the district, architect James H. Windrim, along with his son John, built semi-detached homes from 1906-16 in many styles, including Bungalow, Prairie, Mission, Jacobean Revival and Colonial Revival. Homeowners must follow guidelines set by the Philadelphia Historical Commission to preserve the aesthetics of the homes.

Median home sale price: Within the Girard Estate historical district: $300,000; rowhomes outside the district, $150,000

State Senate district: First, Vincent Fumo (D)

State House district: 185th, Robert Donatucci (D)

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

Ward: 26th

Police district: First

Civic groups and townwatches: Girard Estate Area Residents (GEAR), Broad Street West Civic Association

Schools: St. Monica Junior School, 17th and Ritner streets, and Senior School, 16th and Porter; Girard Academic Music Program (once called the Edgar Allen Poe School), 22nd and Ritner

Rec centers: Guerin Recreation Center, at 16th and Jackson streets in nearby Marconi, also serves this area.

Highlights of living there: "Living in Girard Estate is like living in the suburbs while still being able to enjoy city life," says 81-year-old Vera Galati, who has lived on the 2500 block of South 20th Street for 54 years.

Another resident cites the area's unity. "The closeness and personal bond of the neighborhood is great," says Robert "French" Boileau, of the 2500 block of South Chadwick Street. "We are all like family."

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