West Philadelphia Skills Initiative’s expansion supported by $125K from Citizens Charitable Foundation

November 14, 2019

Skills Initiative program graduate Jacqueline Saunders spoke about her experience with the program at the check presentation ceremony.

University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI), the nationally recognized job training program, has just received an investment that will allow them to expand their reach to employers across the region. The program, which has been connecting unemployed West Philly residents with University City employers since 2011, has received a $125,000 contribution from the Citizens Bank’s Charitable Foundation, which will go to support their expansion efforts. Since 2012, the Citizens Charitable Foundation has contributed more than $450,000 to the program.

“We are proud to support the [West Philadelphia Skills Initiative] organization as it takes its efforts to the next level, providing more opportunities for unemployed Philadelphians to get the training and support needed to succeed in the workforce,” said Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, President of Citizens Bank, Mid-Atlantic Region, during a presentation that took place this morning at WPSI’s office (see photo).  Continue Reading

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Garden Court Community Association hosting meeting with Jamie Gauthier this Thursday

November 13, 2019

Newly elected Councilwoman Jamie Gauthier will be a guest speaker at the Garden Court Community Association’s fall membership meeting on Thursday, Nov. 14, which will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Church of the Holy Apostles and the Mediator (260 S. 51st St.).

The proposed luxury apartment development near 51st and Spruce will likely be among the topics she will address. This meeting is an opportunity for residents to hear the newly elected Councilwoman’s thoughts on the neighborhood’s future and ask questions.  Continue Reading

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Fresh off an election win, Councilwoman-elect Jamie Gauthier talks zoning and affordable housing to Spruce Hill residents

November 13, 2019

Photo by West Philly Local

Newly elected City Councilwoman Jamie Gauthier says one of her top priorities when she takes office in January is addressing the development “frenzy” in West Philadelphia by pressing for more affordable housing.

“I think we should look at zoning with an eye toward equitability and affordability,” she told the Spruce Hill Community Association during its annual meeting at the Penn Alexander School on Tuesday.

Gauthier, who grew up in Kingsessing, will represent a district that has some of the most expensive real estate and the deepest poverty in Philadelphia. Development and issues related to zoning have become flashpoints in recent years.  Continue Reading

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Recycle fall leaves starting Tuesday, Nov. 12

November 11, 2019

leavesThe City once again is offering residents an opportunity to recycle fall leaves. The 2019 Leaf Recycling Program begins Tuesday, Nov. 12 and runs through Saturday, Dec. 21. During this time, residents have a few options to participate in the program.

Bagged leaf drop-off will be offered citywide on Saturdays (except for November 16th and 30th) at 13 designated locations from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the duration of the program. The locations in West Philadelphia are:  Continue Reading

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Newly elected City Councilwoman Jamie Gauthier to speak at annual Spruce Hill community meeting

November 7, 2019

                             Jamie Gauthier

The Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) will hold its annual meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the Penn Alexander School auditorium (enter through cafeteria/blacktop entrance on 43rd street between Locust and Spruce).

Officers and board members get elected at this meeting and special guests talk about important community issues. The event is free and all community members are invited to attend to learn more about the organization and get involved (check out the Spruce Hill boundaries map below).  Continue Reading

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Conversation about race, equity and the arts this Thursday at The Bank

November 6, 2019

                             Li Sumpter

The Barnes Foundation continues its community programming in West Philadelphia and will host a special Barnes Presents! event this Thursday, Nov. 7 at The Bank (3750 Lancaster Ave). The event will introduce the Barnes’ current major exhibition, 30 Americans, and will include a conversation about race and equity in the arts. Li Sumpter, a scholar of art, myth, and humanities, and artist Sherman Fleming will participate in the discussion, moderated by the Barnes education team’s Jihan Thomas.  Continue Reading

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Election Day is this Tuesday (Nov. 5). Pressed for time? Read this before you go to the polls

November 4, 2019

Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5 to vote for Mayor (a formality), At-Large City Council seats (not a formality this year) and a controversial ballot measure focused on crime victims’ rights.

The drama for City Council District 3 ended in May with the victory of upstart Jamie Gauthier over longtime incumbent Jannie Blackwell. Gauthier has no opponent in tomorrow’s vote. But several third party candidates are keeping the At-Large races interesting.

Seven At-Large candidates will be elected during Tuesday’s general election (polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.). History shows that the five Democratic At-Large candidates – incumbents Allan Domb, Derek Green, Helen Gym, as well as Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas – will all likely win easily. Democrats outnumber Republicans seven to one in the city.  Continue Reading

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Post-Halloween frights and folly continue with Curio Theatre Co.’s The Mystery of Irma Vep, opening Nov. 2

November 1, 2019

It’s fitting that Curio Theatre Company is staging The Mystery of Irma Vep – A Penny Dreadful a couple of days after Halloween. By the way, Irma Vep is an anagram. You should figure it out before you proceed.

American playwright Charles Ludlam wrote The Mystery of Irma Vep as a campy celebration of the horror genre. Characters in this three-act play include a werewolf, mummy, vampire and Egyptian princess. Only two actors play all of the characters, so the performance includes more than 30 super-quick costume changes.  Continue Reading

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2019 Spruce Hill Halloween Parade Photos

November 1, 2019

Photos by West Philly Local

The rain didn’t prevent hundreds of youngsters, their older siblings, parents and grandparents from showing up at the annual Spruce Hill Halloween Tot Parade in their best spooky/funny/bizarre costumes. Some older folks who are very into Halloween showed up too! Anyway, check out some more photos below. Until next year!  Continue Reading

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Sanctuary Jam, a free jazz event this Sunday at St. Mary’s Church

October 31, 2019

Outdoor summer jazz is over until next year in West Philly, but jazz music lovers have a chance to enjoy their favorite music indoors. A free event, Sanctuary Jam, will be held this Sunday (Nov. 3) for the first time inside St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Hamilton Village (3916 Locust Walk).

The event is organized by the music departments of University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and The Jazz Sanctuary, who have partnered to bring the Sanctuary Jam to the public – free of any charges. Pizza and drinks will be also available free of charge.  Continue Reading

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Man charged in shooting deaths of four family members in Cedar Park

October 31, 2019

A 29-year-old man has been charged in shooting deaths of four people, including a 7-year-old boy, whose bodies were found on Wednesday inside a home on the 5000 block of Walton Ave., according to police. The tragedy happened on Tuesday night when the man allegedly shot and killed his four family members – his 52-year-old mother, 56-year-old step father, and two half-brothers, ages 18 and 7.

The police found the suspect, who reportedly suffers from mental health problems, at home when they arrived to check on the well being of the adult family members after they didn’t show up at work on Wednesday, according to a report by NBC10. He was arrested and charged with four counts of murder after allegedly confessing to the killings.


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Paperless billing/payment options now available for Philadelphia Water customers

October 30, 2019

Philadelphia Water customers finally have an option to switch to paperless billing and pay their bills online. The City’s Water and Revenue Departments have recently launched a new, paperless e-billing service for water bills. Customers are urged to create e-billing accounts at

Users of the new e-billing site can:

• Set up automatic payments for free
• Opt-out of paper bills
• Sign up for reminders and alerts
• Look up past bills

Continue Reading

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‘Baltimore Crossing’ condo development project underway near 51st and Baltimore

October 29, 2019

The “Baltimore Crossing” condo construction project is underway near 51st and Baltimore. This is a three-unit building north of Baltimore (Photo courtesy of Holly Mack Ward & Co).

Folks looking to buy a home in West Philly have usually had two options: a pricey Victorian or a more affordable (but still pricey) rowhome. Developers have mostly been reluctant to build condos – essentially apartments that are for sale rather than for rent. That might be starting to change with “Baltimore Crossing,” a new condo development project currently under construction near 51st and Baltimore.

The project includes three buildings – a three-unit building north of Baltimore (at 717 S. 51st St), a five-unit building south of Baltimore (at 732-734 S. 51st), and a townhouse at 5135 Webster St. The construction of the north building is in an advanced stage, and the foundation has been laid for the south building.  Continue Reading

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23rd Annual Spruce Hill Halloween Parade will be held on Thursday (rain or shine!)

October 28, 2019

UPDATE (10/30/2019): The Spruce Hill Halloween parade and block party will be held rain or shine! Check the Spruce Hill Community Association’s Facebook page for more details.

Despite some road work happening in the Spruce Hill neighborhood, the annual Halloween Parade will be held as usual. Tots and their parents/guardians are invited to the 23rd annual Spruce Hill Halloween Parade and Party on Thursday, Oct. 31. The parade will kick off at 4:30 p.m. at 45th and Larchwood, but gathering will begin at 4 p.m. The parade ends on “Little Osage” (4200 block of Osage Ave.), where the tots will be treated to cider, baked goods and other treats provided by neighbors and local businesses.

Every year, hundreds of costumed tots (ages 6 and under) and their parents participate in the parade organized by the Spruce Hill Community Association. It’s a fun, safe and family-friendly event with plenty of trick-or-treating possibilities in the neighborhood!  Continue Reading

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What’s happening at Clark Park? Get latest updates at Fall public meeting on Monday

October 25, 2019

Neighbors have a chance to get updates on all things Clark Park at a Fall public meeting organized by Friends of Clark Park. The meeting is Monday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. at Rosenberger Hall (Room 102) on the University of the Sciences campus (600 S 43rd St).

The annual meeting is always a great time to discuss ongoing issues with the park and learn about some of the latest events and upcoming changes.

Friends of Clark Park will also be holding the annual election for the board of directors. If you would like to get involved in the Friends of Clark Park work or are just curious about the latest happenings in the park you are welcome to attend the meeting.

For more information about Friends of Clark Park and their work, visit:

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Rep. Johnson-Harrell to host open house Saturday at new district office location 

October 24, 2019

State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell will welcome her constituents to her new district office location during an open house Saturday.

The open house will take place from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 at 550 N. 52nd St.

Johnson-Harrell and her staff will be available to show constituents around the new office location, to answer questions and provide help with state government-related programs.  Continue Reading

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Another big apartment building coming to 4200 block of Chestnut; revised plan for smaller one at 4000 Market

October 22, 2019

The development boom along the 4200 block of Chestnut Street will continue with a seven-story, 102-unit building that will likely begin construction early next year.

Developers presented the plan to the Spruce Hill zoning committee last night as part of the city’s Civic Design Review process required for buildings of a certain size and use. But neither the SHCA nor the city itself has much oversight over the “by right” project, the second major “by right” project on that block this year. A 278-unit building is underway nearby at the former site of the Christ Memorial Church at 43rd and Chestnut.  Continue Reading

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West Catholic High School at 45th and Chestnut wants to sell some of its land to developers

October 22, 2019

West Catholic High parking lot at 46th and Chestnut.

West Catholic High School has been bitten by the development bug.

Located at 45th and Chestnut, about a block from an El stop, the school sits on property most developers would love to get their hands on. A small group representing the school asked the Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee last night to rezone the school’s parking lot at the corner of 46th Street and Chestnut to make it enticing to developers and clearing the way for a large, potentially seven-story apartment building. The revenue from a possible development deal would fund the school’s refurbishment and provide a scholarship endowment.  Continue Reading

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Massive auto body shop fire near 59th and Spruce takes almost three hours to contain

October 21, 2019

A 3-alarm fire broke out on Monday morning at a large auto body shop located at 59th and Irving, according to multiple reports. The fire broke out shortly after 10 a.m. and soon the whole building was engulfed in flames:

The heavy smoke from the fire was seen from many blocks away:  Continue Reading

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