South Street Philadelphia

South Street, once known as Cedar Street, runs east to west in the Center City neighborhood of Philadelphia. It began as a marketplace for the average working class to shop for fish, chicken, produce, and fruit, as well as for clothing and other household essentials. Many of these families lived above the stores and shops they operated, raising their children, and sharing in the newly found freedom of living in America. This section of South Street, between Front and Seventh, formed the southern boundary of the city limits until Passyunk and Moyamensing were annexed.

Primarily a garment district through the 1950’s, the family-oriented atmosphere of South Street began to change in the 60’s and 70’s. Hippies, craftspeople, and artists settled in the area, and the neighborhood became a hangout for music lovers and promoters. Filled with lively bars and clubs and frequented by people primarily from South Philadelphia, the fans flocked to hear the music of well-known musicians such as Keen Keeder, George Thorogood, and Robert Hazard. As more and more tourists discovered the bohemian ambiance of South Street, many of the nightspots were replaced by shops and chain stores catering to the growing demands of visitors to the area. Restaurants such as the Philly Pizza Company and the punk rock music and accessory store Zipperhead, now known as Crash, Bang, Boom, flourished for a while in the 1980’s. South Street quickly gained a reputation for being a popular party place where things were happening and just about anything goes. In 2001, however, the Mardi Gras celebration at Fat Tuesday’s turned ugly with rowdy partygoers filling the streets, looting stores and other businesses. Police were called in to restrain the crowds, and the memory of this South Street uproar gave Philadelphia a negative image for some time.

Today, however, the area has settled down to a calmer, more conventional environment, but one that still reflects the spirit of the American people, where imagination and creativity are encouraged and life has its everyday pleasures and conveniences. The original scene of quaint little boutiques and unusual shops has changed to some extent, and the marketplace, as such, is an outdoor mall of over 300 shops, 60 restaurants, clubs, and bars. Visitors to South Street can shop at familiar, traditional chain stores such as The Gap, Adidas, and Foot Locker, or browse in antique and artisan shops and art galleries. Whether you’re looking for guitars, flowers, tattoos, psychic readings, or magic, there is something for everyone on South Street,

From cheesesteak and pizza to deli foods and bakery goods, South Street restaurants offer every type of ethnic food including Japanese sushi at Maki House, Moroccan at Marrakesh, and Mexican specialties at the Salsolito Café. Vacationers and residents enjoy Blarney South, voted Philly’s best Irish bar and grill, and Downey’s open deck views of the Delaware River and café seating along South Street. For a different dining experience, there’s Bistro Romano, where every Monday is pasta night and every Tuesday, a lobster feast.

South Street stays alive, both day and night, with a diverse crowd of business people from Washington Square and Society Hill joining friends for lunch, visitors and residents shopping for groceries and gifts, and the young and the hip out for an evening of dancing, clubbing, and fun. Others visit The Theater of Living Arts, located at 334 South Street, where rock and country music bands, and national and international entertainers perform for Live Nation concert events.

General Admission: $15 – $18.00. Standing room only for most concerts and live performances. Reserve seating and special pricing for some events.
Box office: Monday — Saturday, 12 Noon to 6:00 p.m. Closed Sunday. Ph: 215-922-1011,
(Concession stand, handicap accessible, parking garages nearby.)

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