East Falls Local

East Falls for All's!

Category: History (Page 1 of 5)


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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Final Bow: Remembering Harry Prime

East Falls says goodbye to beloved hometown boy Harry Prime, one of the last remaining Big Band legends in the world who died suddenly (of natural causes) in his home June 15th at the ripe age of 97.

He lived almost a century, but it’s still hard to believe such a vigorous spirit is gone. Although dogged by chronic impairments in his last days, Harry had remained sharp as a tack and was looking forward to performing again for friends and family as soon as he was able.

“He was a great singer and storyteller, I’m really glad I knew him,” said Tom Leschak of Epicure Cafe, where Harry wowed his last audience in 2015 — and where Harry grew up in the 40’s, in the apartment above what used to be a market.

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Closing Time

Last call for Murphy’s? NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! 

Unbe-freakin-believable. If you’re like us, you were stunned when you heard the news: a famous East Falls bar will soon be history. Say it isn’t so, Murphy’s Irish Saloonery!

“It’s time,” Mike Murphy told us — not nearly as gently as he should have, by the way (a free beer would’ve lessened the blow, just sayin’).

But this place is an institution, and it’s busy every night. The best Irish bar in the state, yet. What gives?

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Springtime menace: Floods and freshets on the Schuylkill River

Springtime on the Schuylkill in the 19th century could be extremely hazardous because of sudden ice thaws known as freshets.

Kelly Drive. May 1, 2014

Flooding these days on Kelly Drive is often an inconvenience. Traffic gets rerouted and things are back to normal in a few hours. But not long ago, flash floods known as freshets could wreak immense havoc.

Destructive power of freshets
These flash floods occurred in March or April, when ice sheets covering the Schuylkill began to thaw, crack, and move downstream. Occasionally, these floes piled on top of one another, clogging the river at choke points and forming enormous ice dams.

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The Donnybrook’s in the Details

That time Brian Hickey tried to do a nice story on East Falls’ painted shamrock… 

If you’re new to East Falls this fall or winter, you may have noticed a fading smear of green paint in the road at the intersection of Ridge & Midvale. It’s not graffiti, but a 50+ year tradition that takes place here every St. Paddy’s Day.

Until 2016, the ritual’s origins and methods were cloaked in mystery. But last year local journalist Brian Hickey took a fateful pub crawl that led him first to a great tale of beer, camaraderie, and Irish pride — then almost immediately into a two-fisted neighborhood feud.

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Fallser Flashback: John Lennox

Going old school with one Fallser’s pics and memories from the old neighborhood.

Stanton street’s own John Lennox shares some childhood memories in this edition of Fallser Flashbacks – tales from back in the day from those who lived it.

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Love Thy Neighbor

Fun Facts to warm your heart about St. James School in nearby Allegheny — from free community dinners to the most historic “Mannequin challenge” ever. 

(Image from St. James School’s Facebook page)

St. James the Less church and cemetery is a National Historic Landmark — it’s the country’s first pure English Parish-style church, and one of the finest examples of 19th Century American Gothic architecture.

Totally accidental, btw. The congregation here asked their English counterparts for the church plans they’d all discussed and agreed upon. Instead of those, someone sent entirely different plans, whoops.

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Wedded in a Winter Wonderland

Old Academy provides an historic backdrop for this local couple’s ceremony and reception — Mother Nature adds extra sparkle! Introducing: wedding announcements in East Falls Local. 

When Epicure Cafe’s head waitress Rita DeSilva told us her niece was getting married in East Falls — at Old Academy, yet —  we were on board with our camera to capture love in local history.

The year’s first snowfall added to the romance, congratulations to Katlyn and Randy Krok of Roxbourgh — and big thanks for sharing their special day with us.

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Moving On Up in East Falls

Upper East Falls? Lower? What does that even mean? A look at our history provides a peek at our future. 

Uppers? Lowers? Some Fallsers will take offense at the terms but historically, East Falls has always defined itself in relation to our river and railroads. In the past, class lines tended to run along geographical ones, but as luxury condos populate Kelly Drive and Ridge those old distinctions are blurring.

Still: East Falls remains a mullet of a neighborhood. Urban & leafy. Students & families. “Ridge rats” and “90210.” Shiny new tech amid the bones of an old mill town. Our split personality goes way back…

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