East Falls Local

East Falls for All's!

Author: Joseph Minardi

Take a Stand for The Falls

If we’re not careful, we can lose our historic architecture. Joseph Minardi explains how we’re at risk, and steps neighbors can take towards preserving our local charm & character. 

Look out! Philadelphia is under siege from ravenous developers who’d like to build on every square inch of the city — demolishing historic buildings in their wake. In East Falls, the Catfish Café at Ridge and Scotts Lane) was an exquisite example of Philadelphia Victorian commercial architecture. So close to a revival, only to be smashed to bits, its incredible vintage wooden bar carted off to D.C.

No buildings are safe, not even churches. St. Bridget (3667 Midvale), for instance, has no historical designation and plus is incorrectly zoned as residential. If the Church sold it, a developer could do whatever they wanted with the property. Gut it, demo it, whatever, by right. No need for community input. Are we really OK with this?

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History Matters: Yule Wonder Why

Our favorite historian explains local Holiday oddities from long ago.

Happy Holidays, Fallsers! As we know, the city of Philadelphia has many strange rituals, but there are a few bizarre customs that have been lost to history. Now’s a good time to re-examine those weird and wonderful traditions of yore…

“Der Belsnickel!”

The arrival of Christmas means the yearly visit from jolly old Saint Nick can’t be far behind. But did you know that Santa Claus once had a cantankerous cousin? Belsnickel, the filthy and foul anti-Santa, was a popular means of getting unruly children to behave in the nineteenth century.

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HISTORY MATTERS: Put a Ring on It

If you’ve ever wondered about East Falls’ “castle” on Kelly Drive, Joseph Minardi’s got all the scoop on this Victorian riverside party spot. 

Castle Ringstetten is the picturesque upriver clubhouse of the Undine Barge Club, founded in 1856 for “healthful exercise” and “relaxation from business.”  Indeed, the club has the ambience of gentlemanly club-life from a bygone era.

Construction on the lovely edifice began in 1875.

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HISTORY MATTERS: The Amazin’ Weightman

William Weightman made his name in the pharmaceutical game as the “Quinine King,” and left an indelible architectural legacy in East Falls & surrounding Philadelphia.

East Falls’ William Weightman (1813-1904) was one of the wealthiest men in America at the time of his death, amassing a fortune worth over $51 billion in today’s money — CNN rated him #20 of the all-time richest Americans.  Yet he is far less famous than his fellow fat cats like John D. Rockefeller and the Cornelius Vanderbilt.

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HISTORY MATTERS: Fort St. Davids

We’re called “East Falls” — but where are the waterfalls? Joseph Minardi explains our piscine origins, when the Schuylkill river roared with rapids (and delicious protein). In pre-Revolutionary days, a group of prominent Welshman from Philadelphia, some of whom were Quakers and close associates of William Penn, organized a society and a clubhouse that was the genesis of East Falls.  They called themselves the Society of Fort St. David’s in honor of the patron saint of Wales.

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History Matters: Putting on the Ritz at Alden Park

After a $70+ million restoration, Alden Park Apartments now recalls its heyday in the 1920’s, when its lush grounds and dramatic vistas were once a playground for the well-to-do.

As we prepare to celebrate a new Alden Park this July 22nd, local historian Joe Minardi sets the stage with the scoop on this old Strawbridge estate that became an architectural wonderland in our own backyard. 

The 1920s was an exciting time of change and optimism in America.  It was an era of bootleggers, flappers, and hot jazz music. Before the stock market crash of 1929 millions of Americans were getting rich in the stock market. Bankers were more than eager to lend big dollars to builders with big dreams. Alden Park Manor on Wissahickon Avenue was just such a dream.

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