Revisiting Logan in the Flesh – Part 1

pew2

 

Earlier this year I was contacted by a representative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.  The PCT is an independent non-profit representing the heart of Philadelphia civics and philanthropy.  Seems the blog series I wrote on Revisiting Logan in My Mind and they decided to include me in a feature they were planning on the fate of the middle class in select Philadelphia neighborhoods from 1970 onward.

I went back to Philly for photo shoot with Peter, their Washington, D.C. based photographer, as coordinated by Susan Warner.  Sue and Peter were delightful to work with, and I had a strange sense of calm tinged with regret over what had become of the old neighborhood where I was born and raised.   Here is part one of the visit.

Driving West on Roosevelt Boulevard, bearing right onto Wyoming Ave. at 7th St.

HP to Wyo

 

Heading West on Wyoming toward 9th St., the razed houses giving a pastoral view more pleasant than I anticipated.  All of the houses south of Louden and north of Courtland between 7th and 11th were condemned due to the marsh on which Logan was built sinking.

W on Wyoming

 

After turning right on 9th to head north toward Louden, a glance to the left reveals the land vacated to perpetuity.

8th & wyo 9th

 

Yet to the right, facing eastward on 9th there is one house still standing, as if in defiance.

house

 

The view heading north on 9th St. approaching Louden.

9th N

 

9th St. has remained the only north/south through street spanning the length of Logan.  Here we turn left on 9th St. as we head north, the familiar sight of a retail store on the lower level of a residence on the northwest corner.

turn

 

Proceeding west on Louden, heading toward Hutchinson.

W on Louden

 

My first glimpse of “The Hutch”, Logan’s version of an eatery/hangout sporting a counter with four or five barstool chairs serving food cooked enough to warrant vents emitting steam that I can still see and smell.  Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes, here beneath the blue urban skies.

Hutch

 

Hutch beaut

 

Hutch 3

The beauty with which the exterior of The Hutch has been maintained is in stark contrast with the 4700 block of Hutchinson across the street, a blank look on its sur-face.

4700 H

 

Continuing west on Louden past Hutchinson toward 10th.

W on Louden past 9

 

I’m startled approaching 10th and Louden, disoriented by the absence of homes to the left.

my corner

Arrival to the northwest corner of 10th and Louden, officially 4800 N. 10th Street.  The front steps led to my father’s office waiting room, my parents’ bedroom directly above it.  The steps also served as a stoop of sorts on which some sat as they waited for the “C” bus to proceed south and turn left on Wyoming Ave, a route that is no more.

My House

 

The view north on 10th Street, the vine in the front yard still looking lush.

North

 

The hedges on the side yard adorning Louden still look good; how I recall manicuring them 50 years ago.

Hedges

 

The green shingles look the same way they did all those years ago, the demarcation that housed our tiny kitchen abutting the back yard.

green

 

back yard

 

Peter surveys the view from the back porch.

Peter Porch

 

Note the two black poles extending upward from the gate, still in place where they were over 60 years ago, as my mother or grandmother strung clothesline rope to hang bedsheets or towels with clothespins out to dry when the weather was beautiful.

Poles

 

Peter takes a short walk up the alleyway, separating the back yards of the houses on 10th Street from those on Warnock Street to the west, reminiscent of the walk of the utensil sharpening and second hand clothes barkers in the days when knives were only used for eating food in the neighborhood.

Peter Alley

 

The alleyway is overgrown with shrubbery now, and the tall fences impede the view as well, but memories are still fresh of the free passageway it afforded.  There were occasional dogs to dodge – mostly from the Warnock side – who didn’t seem to grasp that the alley was public domain and not an extension of their yard.

alley long

 

Turning around at the foot of the alley and facing south, I work to bring back the driveway across the street to mind.  I have to explain to Peter and Sue that this is where on cold winter days with snow in place I’d look both ways before launching myself on a sled across Louden street to the dip in the pavement signifying the downward slalom of the driveway.  Sue notes wryly that the downward slope that made sledding fun was the sinking marsh we didn’t know of in this days that led to the houses bordering the driveway being condemned.

Driveway

 

Driveway Sue

 

After finishing the backyard shoot we return to the corner of 10th and Louden, knowing full well that most of the shots Peter takes will wind up on the cutting room floor, mirroring the ultimate fate of the my memories.

Photog 1

 

Photog 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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14 Responses to Revisiting Logan in the Flesh – Part 1

  1. Thank you, Len. Some of ye olde neighborhoode still looks good. Thanks for the memories. How about the great bakeries and delis?

  2. John Snyder says:

    Interesting. I’ve wondered if this dreadful patch in a big city, that was falling down in many places, ever deserved any special interest. It would be nice if somehow this would be the starting point of a renaissance in Logan as we’ve seen in Northern Liberty’s and other tumbledown neighborhoods in eastern population centers. I don’t think the artists and hipsters would go for it but their is a middle class of city folk interested in newer homes…..or perhaps better yet….MORE TREES!!! more lung capacity for the city…trees don’t care if the Wingohocking Creek is tickling their toes, in fact they prefer it. Acres and acres of evergreens!!! thats the ticket!!

    I’m glad you got this shoot to happen, Good neighbor Leonard.

    • Amen, John. It would wonderful if somehow Logan could undergo transformation, re-birth, re-naissance. It is geographically well-suited to be a center piece — though the marsh area would obviously have to be dealth with.

    • nobody says:

      I’ve been thinking off and on about that patch of land ever since I read about it. I know the marshlands exist because there used to be a creek that went all through Upper North Philadelphia and into Northwest, that branched off from the Frankford or maybe it and the Tacony came together to form the Frankford, not sure which. I’ve been thinking that it could be great if they restored the creek, though I’m not sure that’s possible.

      There is however a “greenway” or whatever you want to call it in the median of Roosevelt, going from the Roosevelt Mall all the way down to Hunting Park. It could be great I think if they could build a branch off of the Tacony and Frankford creeks that ran in that “greenway” and into that patch of land off of Louden then down into Hunting Park where it could terminate at a man-made lake or something similar. I would bet most kids in Hunting Park and Logan have never been fishing or been to a creek and would love to be able to do that in their own backyard. i know people want a rail line on Roosevelt but all you’d have to do would be to build tracks over the creek. This would all of course depend on where the sewers under Roosevelt are and how deep, but either way there are ways to prevent the creek from damaging the street and vise versa so the same situation as in Logan could easily be prevented from happening. There would be places the creek would need to run around Roosevelt as well as places it would need to tunnel under streets but I’m sure it would be possible. This would also need to be privately funded of course, as there’s no way the city would pay for it I don’t think.

      I grew up in an urban neighborhood that was built right up near a creek, and I know that things like being able to explore nature without leaving my neighborhood and being able to fish and go to the creek really shaped who I am and made me a lot more appreciative of nature and caring towards it than I would’ve otherwise been.

      Anyway, that’s just an idea I had. I’m really enjoying reading this blog. It’s always nice to be able to see a place through the eyes of somebody who grew up there.

  3. Helene gross gaffin says:

    Wow what great pictures I lived on the 4700 of 9th street and my parents were the original owners of the Hutch , they gave it the name The Hutch. I must say it was the best neighborhood growing up. your father was my eye doctor and seeing the pictures of his office all I can say is thanks for sharing these pictures !!

    • You’re welcome, Helene. Thanks so much for adding to the blog with you comments. “The Hutch” was like an oasis at times – a mixture of a hangout, right of passage, and just a warm neighborhood place to dip into the frig case for a special cone ice water ice, play the pinball machine, listen to the jukebox, or take in the aroma of what was cooking. Dad is still hanging in there, 93 years old living in Forest HIlls, NY, and still sharp as a tack. Heop you’re doing well.

  4. Judith Gittelman says:

    My friend, Lois Rollins’ parents at one time also owned the Hutch. However, I had already moved to Somerton with my parents who knew that the houses were sinking. Left there in 1959. Always missed it!

  5. Ava says:

    Lenny, I grew up in North Philadelphia but went to Cooke Jr. High and Beth Judah for “Hebrew School” In the 1960’s Logan seemed like a wonderful dream to me, I begged my parents to move their business to Logan. Now as I drive thru Philadelphia, up the Roosevelt Blvd I see what is left of my former Paradise.

  6. lis says:

    I’m dumbfounded by the photos you took the time to take and posting it, you have no idea what memories came flooding back for me. Good and awful ones alike. I lived on 9th street, went to Birney elementary school for 2 years, you mentioned there was a house still standing as though in defiant, would you have any clue what address that may have once have been? Was it at the top of 9th street, middle or closer to 9th street? I used to have frequent dreams of that house I lived at as a child. I went back to look at it some years ago, and my block was flattened, as though we were never there, it looked haunting and unsafe. I was 9 in the early 70’s then, how about you? Thank you for the photos, and the time you took.

  7. Howard Grossman says:

    Hi Leonard; Thank you for the wonderful photos of Logan, Having lived at 4925 10th st. I share your appreciation of the great experience of growing up in Logan. I remember your parents and sister. Our parents were friends and spent time in each others homes. Your Dad was the family eye doctor. My Mother is doing well and is spending the winter in Fla My two brothers Jerry and Barry are also doing well. Jerry lives in Warminster Pa, Barry lives in Boca Raton Fla. I live in Huntingdon Valley Pa.
    Thank you again for sharing your Logan photographs.

    • My pleasure, and how great to hear from you, Howard! I so vividly recall your basement with some of the toys your Dad had in his business venture. I used to love visiting your house — you, Jerry and Barry were like Fred McMurray’s “My Three Sons”! Great memories of short-wave radios, and all kinds of adventures! Please give your mother our regards — Miriam and I bought her fridge when she moved to California, and she gave us her cat (Jupiter) to look after! I also recall that you and your wife lived in the apartment complex in Northeast Philly on Strehl St., and we visited with you there once to get good tips on re-finishing furniture. Glad to hear Jerry and Barry are doing well, and please share regards with them as well. I followed my father’s footsteps into Optometry, and one of my sons has followed in mine. My father just passed away last month – he had a good run to age 95. (My mother passed away 28 years prior.)

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