QUEEN VILLAGE. Philadelphia's first neighborhood.Cross the street to the south side of Lombard and you've entered QueenVillage, the oldest neighborhood in Philadelphia and one of theoldest "urban villages" in the country.This community is known for its large stock of 18th- and l9th-century buildings, many of them unchanged from colonial times. Some streets look very much like they did 200 years ago.
Queen Village was settled by Swedes in the 1600s and named Wicaco, the Lenape tribe's word for "peaceful place." Its name has changed twice since then. William Penn named it Southwark after a neighborhood in London. It was renamed Queen Village in the 1970s to honor the role of Sweden's Queen Christina in promoting the original settlement.
Early residents included ship builders,rope and sail makers, sailors, dock workers,carpenters and craftsmen. Today QueenVillage is home to a vibrant mix ofpeople of all backgrounds and economic levels. Its thriving businesses and residential areas make it an exciting community in which to live and work.
Queen Village has several landmarks of note:
Sparks' Shot Tower. Located at Front and Carpenter Streets, this was the first shot towerin the United States. Lead shot was made here for the U.S. Army during the War of 1812.
South Street. A place where Philadelphians have shopped and been entertained for over 200 years. The nation's first permanent theater, Southwark Theater, was located at South and Leithgow Streets. George Washington attended plays there.
Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church. Located at Swanson and Christian Streets, this is the oldest church in Pennsylvania. Built in 1700 as a Lutheran church by descendants of the early Swedish settlers, it became part of the Episcopal Church in 1845. Betsy Ross, credited with sewing the first American flag, was married here.
2nd Street. This is the home base of the Mummers, those New Year's celebrants known for their colorful costumes and marching string bands. At the southwest corner of 2nd Street and Washington Avenue, you'll find the Mummers Museum, a repository of costumes and Mummer history.
4th Street Fabric Row. Thought to be the country's oldest fabric district, these retail stores continue south on 4th Street from Bainbridge Street.
Queen Village extends south from Lombard Street to Washington Avenue, and from the Delaware River west to 6th Street.
(Sidebar) Over the years, Queen Village has been home to many famous people. Here are a few names you may recognize.
? · Surveyors of the "Mason-Dixon" line, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon
? · Movie actor & comedian, Larry Fine (a.k.a. ?Larry' of the Three Stooges)
? · The artist. Man Ray (born Emmanuel Rudnitzky)
? · Rock 'n Roll singer & musician, Chubby Checker (born Ernest Evans)
? · Basketball player, Maurice "Mo" Cheeks of the Philadelphia 76ers
THE NEW MARKET AND HEAD HOUSE. This graceful structure, a National Historic Landmark, is one of the oldest colonial markets in America. It is adjacent to what is probably the nation's oldest volunteer firehouse. Built in 1745, the covered colonnaded marketplace was called "the shambles," an old English word meaning "butcher shop or meat stalls." At the north end, a three-story firehouse known as "the Head House" was built in 1805.
The New Market. In an era before refrigeration and supermarkets, open air markets provided vendors a place to sell fresh foods. In colonial Philadelphia, the first publicmarket was located at the east end of High (now Market) Street. In 1745, a "New Market" was started here at Second Street (stretching from Pine to South Street)for the convenience of the growing population in Society Hill and Southwark (now Queen Village).
On market days (Tuesdays and Fridays) shoppers purchased fish, turtles, fresh vegetables and fruits, eggs, turkeys, chickens, veal, mutton, sausage and prepared foods, such as meat and apple pies. Occasionally raccoon, possum, bear-bacon or bear's feet were available. The farmers' wagons arrived the night before, pulling up to stalls along the shambles. Customers walked inside the covered center arcade to make their purchases. On dark days, oil lamps at the ceiling were lit. Vendors continued to sell their goods here into the 20th century.
The Head House. In 1736 Benjamin Franklin began a campaign of fire prevention, urging the establishment of community volunteer fire companies equipped with manually operated pumping engines and large bells to signal fires.
In 1805 the Head House at Pine Street was built, pairing it to an earlier Head House located at the South Street end of the market shambles (demolished about 1860). These two "head houses" contained fire engines and apparatus for the members of three volunteer fire companies: The Fellowship, The Hope and The Southwark Hose Companies. The second floor interiors served as meeting rooms for the firefighters.
Private citizens raised funds for the clock in the gables and the alarm bell in the cupola which rang for fires and announced the opening of market days.
This property, owned by the City of Philadelphia, was saved from demolition and repaired in 1962-63, but was again in need of preservation thirty years later A grassroots citizens' group, The Head House Conservancy, accomplished this in the 1990s.