North Philadelphia Ride Guide
East of Broad Street
Is it after Vine St? Or is it after Spring Garden? Every Philadelphian would have a different answer for you as to where North Philadelphia starts, but all would agree on one thing: North Philadelphia represents resilience, dignity, and diversity. With many smaller neighborhoods coming together to make up North Philly, this melting pot of multiculturalism offers an array of opportunities and resources that continue to strengthen the solidarity of residents and the community.
While North Philly is usually referred to as a whole when visiting or residing, it's clear that each community is proud to celebrate and share its history and traditions. In this Neighborhood Ride Guide, we will be focusing on North Philadelphia East of Broad St and the community resources in the area. Originally Lenape land, the area over time became farmland, and then a leading center for the textile industry in Philadelphia by the mid 19th century. North Philly East is a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood that wears its culture on it's sleeve. With amazingly authentic cuisine, lively arts, and a deep-rooted understanding of embracing a sense of community, it is easy to fall in love with the area.
The community support is abundant with the many local resources that help with economic stability, educational learning for all ages, arts, and cultural livelihood. The annual summer Sugarcane Festival is also a must see where local organizations come together and provide many fun activities as well as health screenings for those who need them. There are also no shortage of murals and greenspaces throughout the neighborhood, to continue on showing the beauty that is North Philly East.
Check out the interactive map below for some of the resources and sights that North Philadelphia - East has to offer, along with suggested bike routes! Click on the various map icons for more information. You can even view it on-the-go using the Google Maps Mobile App.
Lehigh Corridor Route
There are many community organizations in the Lehigh Corridor that focus on the cultivation and preservation of the Latino Diaspora in the Greater Philadelphia region by hosting community events and cultural programing. The corridor is located right at the heart of El Centro de Oro.
Route starts at 6th & Berks St. station and runs north to Reese St. and then onto 6th.
Norris Square Loop
Norris Square is home to a variety of community organizations that focus on youth and community empowerment. Programming includes art classes, health resources, community gardening, and more.
This route will also take you to Fairhill Square.
Route starts at the Berks Station, MFL Indego station, then heads west along Berks St. until Howard St. From Howard St., head north.
Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM)
1900 N 9th St.
Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) is a Latino-based health, human services, community and economic development non-profit organization serving the Philadelphia area. Some of the health services they provide are behavioral health aid, homeless services, substance use treatment, and many emergency resources. They also provide life issue resources as well such as foreclosure counseling, financial literacy, home buying, and much more.
118 Fontain St.
Galaei is a Queer and Trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (QTBIPOC) radical social justice organization. Started in 1989, founder David Acosta started GALAEI (Gay and Lesbian AIDS Education Initiative). During it's inception, it was created to help those part of the LGBTQ+ Latinx community to confront the pain, hurt and fears that came during the HIV/AIDS crisis. Galaei is dedicated to creating access, opportunities, sexual empowerment, and economic development for all QTBIPOC individuals while fighting systemic oppression, structural racism, discrimination, and white supremacy.
Village of Arts & Humanities
2544 Germantown Ave.
Village of Arts & Humanities is a community development organization that supports the voices and aspirations of locals providing opportunities for self-expression rooted in art and culture for over 30 years. Their mission is to inspire others to become agents of positive change in the community through interactive programs that encompass arts and culture, engaging youth, revitalizing the community, preserving heritage and respecting the environment.
174 Diamond St.
Ceiba is a non-profit organization that focuses on economic development and financial inclusion for the Latino community through advocacy aimed at ensuring access to quality housing. They are also a leader in helping community members, including immigrants, with other important financial resources. Some of these resources include tax information, financial literacy, housing counseling, and much more.
NKCDC (New Kensington Community Development Corporation)
2771 Ruth St. Suite 1
Founded in 1985, the NKCDC (New Kensington Community Development Corporation) is a local organization that offers free housing services. Help purchasing a home, paying rent/mortgage, or even paying for utilities are some of the services that they offer. They also offer services for small business that are mainly located in Kensington, Fishtown and Port Richmond neighborhoods. With their long history of serving the local community as well as focusing on equity and inclusion, the NKCDC continues to be a great resource for anyone who needs help when in need of housing aid.
Taller Puertorriqueño, Inc.
2600 N 5th St
Taller Puertorriqueño, Inc. is a community-based cultural organization that focuses on developing, preserving and promoting Puerto Rican arts and culture. Also known as El Coazón Cultural del Barrio (The Cultural Heart of Latino Philadelphia), Taller Puertorriqueño uses art to promote development within its community since its inception in 1974. They provide art-education programs, socially-conscious art exhibitions, author meetups, and many other programs.
Norris Square Community Alliance
174 Diamond St.
Founded in 1982, the Norris Square Community Alliance (formerly known as the Norris Square Civic Association), is a community development corporation founded by a group of women who wanted to help their neighborhood by providing a healthy and safe environment for their children. For over 30 years, the NSCA has provided their community by providing resources for affordable housing, community organizing, employment training, youth education, homeownership counseling, and case management services.
Norris Square Neighborhood Project
174 Diamond St. 2141 N Howard St.
Founded in 1973 by local fifth grade teacher Natalie Kempner and Eastern State University professor Helen Loeb. They collaborated with other local teachers, artists, and a Puerto Rican women's group called Grupo Motivos, to create the Norris Square Neighborhood Project (NSNP). Together with their expertise, they created an educational center that helped childing living in West Kensington with their development through art, classes, and more.
If dedication and inspiration was a person, Sylvia Metzler would be a shining example. Sylvia has persistently been a force for justice within the community. She has worked with community gardens and has been committed to the Norris Square Neighborhood Project (NSNP) for over 25 years. Originally from Lancaster, growing up her parents always had gardens and her grandparents were farmers, so gardening was something that came naturally to her.
Sylvia was known to be ingrained within the community as a dedicated activist, who petitioned for improvements for her neighborhood keeping in mind world issues as well. Racism, war, and nuclear weapons were some of the things that she would consistently protest. During the 80's, Sylvia met Natalie Kepner who was the director of the NSNP at the time. They were both doing work in Nicaragua and Natalie wanted Sylvia, who was a nurse practitioner at the time, to join the NSNP when they returned.
This connection led Sylvia to become part of the Norris Square Neighborhood Project in the 1990's. She worked hard during her 25 years in the NSNP to help develop it into the meaningful space it is today. There are currently 6 gardens in the Norris Square neighborhood that are spaces for anyone in the community to enjoy as well as learn about the local history of the neighborhood.
Iris Brown has been a pillar within the Norris Square neighborhood since the 1970's by using her passion for gardening and her Puerto Rican culture to create spaces for the neighborhood to come together. Growing up in Puerto Rico, she was surrounded with lush greenery, plants, and crops that her family tended to which helped her learn about cultivating plants. Iris began her work within the Norris Square community when she met her daughter's teacher who was also the director of the Norris Square Project. It was from meeting her that Iris began to volunteer and dedicate her time to helping make the neighborhood a better place.
Irish went on to found and lead a neighborhood organization called Grupo Motivos which was made up of women from the area. Between the 1980's and 1990's, Grupo Motivos worked to develop Las Parcelas, a community garden that brings the culture and history of Puerto Rico to Norris Square. Iris wanted the neighborhood to have this space to avoid the negative impacts that drugs and litter had in the area. Within the garden, along with plots that locals can use to grow plants and vegetables, there is also a small structure called "La Casita". Inside La Casita, there are objects and more that tell the story of life back in Puerto Rico.
"Semilla De Patria" Mural
2117 N Howard St.
Painted by Betsy Casanas, "Semilla De Patria" beautifully shows the love between a little girl and her father. Adorned with beautiful flowers an feathers, this mural is an amazing touch of love that is tucked away right across the street from Norris Square park. Betsy Casanas was born and raised in North Philadelphia and has worked within the Latino community by creating over 40 public murals and mosaics across the world.
Urban Creators Garden
2316-50 N 11th St.
Founded in 2010, Urban Creators was founded by a group of students, activists, organizers, entrepreneurs, and creators in North Philadelphia. They were inspired by their differences but also shared passion for creating. With this, they came together with the vision to turn a two-acre plot of vacant land into a community farm. During their first 10 years, they practiced these values through a combination of community organizing, educational programming, artistic events, and the transformation of vacant land into urban gardens and green spaces
The Urban Creators are deeply committed to their core values of: Honoring Culture & Legacy, Imagining New Futures, Racial & Economic Justice, Balance & Emergence, Interconnection & Relationships, The Earth, Freedom of Expression, Holistic Wellness, and Collaborative Leadership.
El Centro de Oro
2729 N 5th St
"El Centro de Oro" ("The Golden Downtown") also known as "El Bloque de Oro" ("Golden Block"), is a commercial shopping area near 5th St. and Lehigh Ave. Here you will find many small family owned businesses and other community resources. From galleries such as A Seed on Diamond Gallery to the HACE Business & Visitor Center, there are many ways to learn more about the local neighborhood not only though art and music but with the history that would surround you. There is also a large selection of great restaurants that give you a taste of the culture. One notable place is El Bohio, that has been serving amazing authentic Puerto Rican dishes for over 20 years
1825 Frankford Ave.
NKCDC (New Kensington Community Development Corporation), is an organization that is driven to helping the community fulfil their potential by providing the community with support in four main focus areas. These focus areas are building wealth, growing capacity, fighting displacement and improving health. The NKCDC accomplishes this by developing affordable homes and housing services to any and all Philadelphia residents. The NKCDC Garden is a community garden and event space that locals can reserve to host events. More community garden spaces are planned to be installed along Kensington and Indiana Avenues.
Norris Square Park
2100 N Howard St.
Norris Square Park created in 1859 has a long history of being an important part to the Kensington area. Originally designed to look similar to Franklin Square, Norris Square Park was a touch of greenery when the neighborhood began developing many factories. The park features eight walkways that converge at the park's center, courts for recreation, playgrounds for children to play, and serves as a gathering place for the community. The Norris Square Community Alliance and Norris Square Neighborhood Project also host workshops, movie nights, performances, and even farmer markets.