Ornate yet functional, busy yet often-overlooked, Broad Street is an avenue like no other in our city. One block in South Philadelphia, on the cusp of redevelopment, is a particularly fine example of how the street’s complex past is key to its promising future.
To be sure, the 1600 Block of South Broad Street is neither green nor genteel. Located between Morris and Tasker streets, the rumbling of the Broad Street Line during the day and the throbbing bass of the Dolphin Tavern at night give this street a distinctly urban feel.
But that energy is its strength too – bustling street traffic, easy subway access and the bright daylight that Broad Street’s width offers are notable distinctions in a tightly-packed city with uneven public transit access like ours.
The 1600 block’s best asset though is the street’s beautiful and diverse architecture. Handsome 19th century metal-covered turrets and art deco signage cap a block of chocolate brown townhome, many with intricate leaded windows and other original details. This eclectic mix reflects not only Broad Street’s century-long role as a major commercial corridor (and former well-to-do residential area), but also the incredible designs just waiting to be discovered in this rapidly developing part of South Philadelphia.
Does that make the 1600 Block of South Broad a diamond in the rough? Well at just steps away from the thriving eating and shopping scene of Passyunk Avenue, with bigger homes/apartments and lower prices to boot, its no wonder that this stretch of Broad is being reclaimed as a vibrant urban community. In fact, the block evenly straddles the 19145 and 19148 zip codes, two of the hottest in Philadelphia real estate.
As Philadelphians, we’re trained to recognize that a space’s current state may not reflect its historic strength or successful future. The 1600 block then is not only a uniquely handsome part of South Philadelphia’s section of Broad Street, but brims with potential too.