ON THE WEST SIDE
THE UNIVERSITY CITY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
NOVEMBER 2001


MIKE HARDY, EDITOR


Old Trolleys On A New Line

1947 PCC Car...will be snaking through portions of University City, using the route below, from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve, December 24. Funded by the University City District, SEPTA, the University of Pennsylvania, the freshgrocer, Philadelphia On the West Side and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia; two Art Deco 1947 PCC (Presidential Conference Committee) trolleys, decorated for the holidays, will be providing free excursion rides along its 20 minute loop from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Thursday through Sunday.

The trolley loop will involve tracks on 38th, 40th, 42nd, Spruce and 49th Streets not normally used, except as "diversions," for the regular East/West lines. These, including track on Baltimore and Lancaster Avenue, together with new rail links on 36th, 38th and 45th Streets, including a "turn around" on Baltimore Avenue at 53rd Street are the route of the UCHS-endorsed "University City Historic Streetcar Loop," pictured in full on our website at www.uchs.net. This proposed loop so far has generated broad enthusiasm and the support of some twenty-one University City organizations as an environmentally sound device for knitting together some of the area's major residential and commercial areas, and as such dramatically contributing to the revitalization of the historic streetcar suburbs of University City.

University City Holiday Trolley RouteSpecial tours, emphasizing both the trolley traditions and architecture of the route, will be provided on this run by trolley fan and expert, Scott Maits, of Regent Square, who has been actively promoting this and other mass transit solutions for meeting the transportation needs of the city and region in the 21st century. So, hop on board frequently during the holidays, to shop (including an "extended" Saturday Clark Park Farmers' Market until December 15), get to school (including the new public school at 42nd and Spruce), visit the University City Arts League and area museums (including the new exhibit on "complementary medicine" at the Marvin Samson Center for the History of Pharmacy at USP), and enjoy other neighborhood venues on this loop. As you do, dream of what an expanded, regularly operating, dawn to dusk, real streetcar line following the route proposed for the "University City Historic Streetcar Loop" could mean in the future.

And, while you're enjoying the ride, thank Scott for his work to renew the trolley traditions of West Philadelphia and unite the resources of University City for all of us.

The Gingkoes and Sunoco

On October 24, 200l, our new president, Pat Gillespie, was among the first dismayed neighbors to report that two of three large, healthy and mature street trees at the Sunoco station at the intersection of 45th Street, Baltimore and Springfield Avenues had been illegally cut down. She, along with Baltimore Avenue in Bloom, UC Green, Cross Baltimore Tree Tenders, Spruce Hill Street Tree Committee and other greening activists, sent a letter to Sunoco's CEO noting that the trees destroyed by Sunoco were far from ordinary and easily-replaceable street trees.

They were part of a group of three mature specimens of ginkgo biloba, a species first introduced into Gingko treeAmerica in the 18th century by collector William Hamilton of the nearby Woodlands estate, with the oldest and largest national specimen growing still at nearby Bartram's Garden, the nation's oldest botanical garden. They were also one of the most distinctive botanical features of Baltimore Avenue and served as the specimen ginkgoes cited in our "Urban Arboretum of University City" website, an inventory of some 150 species of trees and shrubs growing in the area.

The letter to Sunoco called for their immediate replacement with male ginkgoes of at least 4" diameter (the two destroyed were 11" and 14 ½") and a minimum donation toward area greening of a sum equal to the real value of the trees, estimated at between $10,000 and $15,000. While expressing outrage at this wanton destruction of these public treasurers, it noted that this action by Sunoco "is particularly perplexing in view of your company's long commitment to greening in Philadelphia."

The response from Sunoco, by Pennsylvania Regional Manager Virginia Rockefeller, was immediate and encouraging. Citing a lack of corporate oversight for the trees' removal, she promised replacement by year's end with 9" diameter trees and further support for greening in the neighborhood. While the details still have to be worked through, UCHS and the community look forward to the replacement of these signature trees and thank Sunoco for its response to date to the concerns of a neighborhood and its long horticultural tradition.

Garden Winners

Gardening efforts in the Baltimore Avenue corridor and at other West Philadelphia greening sites took home a number of first place awards from this year's Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's City Gardens Contest on October 14. Now in its 26th year, the contest recognizes Philadelphia gardeners for their skill and imagination, with a special emphasis on the personal rewards gardening has provided in these difficult times.

Baltimore Avenue in Bloom's "Victorian exotics" gardens on the 3900 block of Woodland Avenue, under the supervision of Michelle Murphy and neighbors, took first place for "Large Community Flower Garden" with a landscape that echoes and complements the "Bartram natives" plantings on the 3900 block of Baltimore Avenue, both installed on the SEPTA "lawns" at the exchange of Baltimore and Woodland Avenues at 39th Street. The judges cited this mixed border of "bold, 'look at me' plants and more delicate, airy ones" as "the work of an artist" and "an inspirational public space."

Further west at 55th and Baltimore, Marion Bush and neighbors won first place for "Mid-size Community Combination Garden" and 5537 Baltimore, under the supervision of Tracey Richards and "kids," first place in the "Community Children's Garden" category.

First in the "First Year Community Garden" category was claimed by Pete Golden, Michelle Snow, Scott Maits and neighbors for "Lots of Love" on the 600 block of Budd Street in the Mill Creek area. Fittingly, their award commemorates Eugene E. Smith, a long time area gardener, UCHS member and Woodland Terrace resident, whose neighbors endowed this annual acknowledgement of the city's best first year gardening efforts in 1986.

Rounding out the West Philadelphia first place winners were "The Southerners," Josephine Speights and neighbors, at 43rd and Ogden Streets for their "Small Community Vegetable Garden" and North Dewey Street, under the supervision Phyllis Wade and neighbors, in the "Philadelphia Green Garden Block" category.

Congratulations to all for these efforts at maintaining the area's greening heritage.

A Spruce Hill Historic District

First proposed over 15 years ago, as a first "local" Philadelphia Historic District in University City, may, with your help, at last be realized. UCHS and the Spruce Hill Community Association are working in collaboration to insure the protection offered by the city's historic preservation ordinance to the area of Spruce Hill shown in the map reproduced on this "fact sheet." This also introduces a discussion of the benefits, approval process, reviewing procedures and guidelines for such a district, whose boundaries are set, not by UCHS, but by the Philadelphia Historical Commission.

UCHS and Spruce Hill have contracted with architectural historian George Thomas to update and revise the nomination for this proposed district. Each organization will soon begin an appeal among its members for donations and pledges to cover the costs of this commission. While those with properties within the proposed boundaries of the district will be its chief beneficiaries, others interested in historic preservation throughout the neighborhood should also be supportive of this effort. For, while the Spruce Hill District will encompass only a portion of the much larger West Philadelphia Streetcar Suburb National Register Historic District and does not include properties in the Powelton and Garden Court Historic Districts, UCHS continues to work for the inclusion of all the historic portions of University City on the city register and will work with any communities wishing to pursue this option.

More information about the Spruce Hill district nomination and the public notices and meetings required for its approval will be forthcoming in the months to come. In the meanwhile, look for your opportunity to lend your support for its nomination.

Cite Your Neighbors

A renovation on the 4200 block of Pine St....for their efforts at preserving the exteriors of their properties and enhancing their gardens and landscapes in University City. If you know of recent, historically sensitive repairs to facades, including multi-colored paint treatments, and/or greening improvements, both individual and collective, in the neighborhood, we want to know about them. We would like to thank those responsible for such "Gifts to the Streets" and invite them to our Valentine's Day 2002 celebration of the best of this year's University City preservation efforts.

Our commendations are for external improvements only, for multi-colored paint schemes that highlight the historical detailing of University City buildings, and for this year's gardening efforts. If you are not sure about whether your neighbor has already been cited or who is responsible for the new "gifts" to the streetscape you are enjoying, send us the addresses and we will take it from there. You may call us at (215) 387-3019 or e-mail us with your nominations.

New Officers

Last month the Board of Governors of UCHS selected a new slate of officers for the organization for the coming year. They are Pat Gillespie, President; Mike Hardy, Vice President; Nadine Landis, Secretary and Warren Cedarholm, Treasurer. Pat and Mike take over positions held for the last two years (the limit) by Kathy Dowdell, one of our most conscientious and hardworking presidents and Tim Wood, ever ready and qualified to take on work for the society. The Board formally thanked them both for their valuable years of service, and they continue to be active members of the Board.

Also For The Holidays

The Liberty String Orchestra, led by Nancy Bean, Assistant Concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra, will perform a 50-minute program of holiday musical selections including Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride, Pachabel's Canon in D, Vivaldi's Winter from Four Seasons, Handel's Hallelujah Chorus and other favorite works. This free concert is an outgrowth from last July's Philadelphia Orchestra Neighborhood Concert in Clark Park and continues The Philadelphia Orchestra's commitment to celebrating the vitality of neighborhoods of the Greater Delaware Valley by presenting free concerts in a variety of locations throughout the region. Seating is limited, so RSVP at (215) 729-4851.
Friday, December 7, 8:00 p.m
., Calvary Center for Culture and Community, (48th and Baltimore Avenue)

Annual Holiday Greens Sale & Open House - Fresh greens & holly, decorated & undecorated wreaths, ornaments, pine roping, candle centerpieces, fragrant potpourri, poinsettias, candlelight tours of the Bartram house, storytelling & children's crafts, winter garden walks, colonial food demonstration. The No. 36 trolley stops at the Garden on Lindbergh Avenue.
Saturday & Sunday, December 8 & 9, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
, Bartram's Garden, 54th & Lindbergh Blvd.

"The Eclectic Road to Health" - This exhibit at the University of the Sciences takes an historical look at complementary medicine.
Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Marvin Samsom Center for the History of Pharmacy, Griffith Hall, USP, 600 S. 43rd Street, (Free)

 


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