Philadelphia Information Locator Service

Philadelphia Neighborhoods and Place Names

In 1994 and 1995, the Library Company of Philadelphia published the Philadelphia Almanac and Citizens' Manual which was edited by Kenneth Finkel. The 1994 edition of this book contained 389 different names of various neighborhoods throughout the city of Philadelphia from the earliest days of Swedish occupation to the present. The following year, an additional six names were added to bring the list to 395. This list is being augmented yet again by the Philadelphia City Archives with names of neighborhoods, redevelopment areas, and other place names which have been assigned officially or unofficially to certain areas of the city. It is interesting to see the dynamics of neighborhood naming in over 350 years of occupation of the 129 square miles which comprise Philadelphia by the Native Americans, the Swedes, the English and German pioneers, and later and current Philadelphians.
From the Philadelphia Almanac and Citizens' Manual (1995):

Who thinks of Philadelphia today without Manayunk, Frankford, Port Richmond, Germantown, West Oak Lane? But few know all of the nearly 200 neighborhood names currently in use and the nearly 200 used no longer in this big city of small neighborhoods.

Anyone who sets out to make a comprehensive list of neighborhoods - as we did for this almanac - soon finds that names used by official and unofficial historians, map makers, the Postal Service, the Census Bureau, the Planning Commission, and SEPTA vary widely and sometimes conflict. What, then, makes a neighborhood a candidate for this list?

We felt most comfortable when a neighborhood name appeared many times in our sources. Bridesburg, for example, first appeared on the 1839 (sic) map we consulted and then reappeared in 15 other of our sources up to the present day. Logan, which many Philadelphia-neighborhood aficionados think of as old, appeared in none of our early sources. Of course, Logan is in this list, as are truly esoteric neighborhoods from the past such as Texas, Smoky Hollow, Beggarstown, Rose of Bath, and Saw Dust Village and more recent additions such as Bentley, Fernhill, Mount Moriah, and Penn-Knox. Many neighborhood names turned up without dates of origin in textual sources; we chose to include them as well.

This gazette of 395 Philadelphia names - more than anyone has previously claimed exist in a city long known as a "city of neighborhoods" - includes bits and pieces of our forgotten past that had seemed perched on the edge of oblivion. We hope this list helps pull them back from that brink.

At the end of most entries is a date. . . . This indicates the earliest appearance of that name in the sources we consulted. For many of the names that have gone out of use, we also provide the last year they appeared.

The sources used by the staff of the Library Company project were as follows:

Hills, John, Plan of the City of Philadelphia and Environs, 1808
Kennedy, D. J., A Map of the County of Philadelphia, 1843, Charles Ellet, Jr., publisher (Note: this map is usually mistakenly recited with an 1839 date.)
Sidney, J. C., Map of the City of Philadelphia, 1849, Smith & Wistar, publishers
Scott's Map of the Consolidated City of Philadelphia, 1855, Scott & Moore, publishers
Lake, D. Jackson, & Beers, Silas N., Map of the Vicinity of Philadelphia, 1861, J. E. Gillette, publishers
Lippincott's Pronouncing Gazetteer, 1862, J. B. Lippincott, publisher
Baist, George William, Baist's Atlas of the City of Philadelphia, Penna., 1888, G. W. Baist, publisher
Bromley, George Washington & Walter Scott, Atlas of the City of Philadelphia, 1895, G.W. Bromley & Company, publishers
Official Map Showing the System of Lines of the Union Traction Co. in Phila., 1899
Bromley, George Washington & Walter Scott, Atlas of the City of Philadelphia, 1910, G.W. Bromley & Company, publishers
Philadelphia Transportation Company, Street Map of Philadelphia & Vicinity, 1946
Hagtrom's Greater Philadelphia/Camden Atlas, 5th edition, 1987
SEPTA, Philadelphia Street and Transit Map,, 1990, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, publisher
Alexandria Drafting Company, ADC's Street Map of Philadelphia Vicinity and Delaware County, Pennsylvania, 12th edition, no date.

Campbell, William Bucke, "Old Towns and Districts of Philadelphia," Philadelphia History, Volume 4, No. 5 (City History Society of Philadelphia, 1942)
Daly, John, and Allen Weinberg, Genealogy of Philadelphia County Subdivisions, , Philadelphia: Philadelphia Department of Records, 2nd edition. 1966
Jackson, Joseph, Encyclopedia of Philadelphia, Harrisburg: National Historical Association, 1931
Lichstein, Isadore, editor, The Bulletin Almanac,, Philadelphia: The Evening and Sunday Bulletin, 1973
Morgan, George, Philadelphia, The City of Firsts, , Philadelphia: Historical Publication Society, 1926
Morley, Christopher, Travels in Philadelphia, David McKay, 1920
Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Census Tracts and Blocks, 1980
Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Philadelphia: City of Neighborhoods, 1976

Redevelopment Urban Renewal Areas

The Philadelphia City Archives has many of the early area redevelopment plans, certifications, and housing quality surveys of various redevelopment areas from 1948 to 1984. Many of the names of these redevelopment areas were derived from a long usage of that name within the community. Others were applied by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority which stuck as part of that neighborhood's heritage, as one can see when viewing the lists. And still others enjoyed only a brief life before being dropped in favor of other names. The boundaries of each of the redevelopment areas are included. The initials R.D.A. indicate that it was a redevelopment area on the date given in the last column.

The names and boundaries of the redevelopment areas are derived from the Philadelphia City Planning Commission's Philadelphia Redevelopment Areas, published in February 1969. The dates given for the redevelopment areas (marked as R.D.A.) are the dates of certification and, when applicable, the dates the certification was superceded.

For Neighborhood names, A-K, click here
For Neighborhood names, L-P, click here
For Neighborhood names, Q-Z, click here
For names of Districts, Townships and Boroughs

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Last updated on 20 May 1998