Strawberry Mansion Ride Guide

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photo by Kimberly Paynter/WHYY
photo by Kimberly Paynter/WHYY

Strawberry Mansion Ride Guide

The neighborhood of Strawberry Mansion sits on the western side of North Philadelphia and has a rich cultural history of migrants throughout the centuries. The historic mansion, from which the community takes its name, has stood in their back yard, now Fairmount Park, since 1789. Originally known as Summerville, it earned its present name during the mid-1800's, when farmers would come from upriver, rent the mansion, and serve strawberries and cream to the public there. The iconic name stuck, later extended to the nearby community, and remains among the most memorable names for a neighborhood that Philadelphia has to offer.

In the late 1880's, the Strawberry Mansion area developed as a working-class, residential neighborhood. It became well known for its proximity to Fairmount Park as well as the Woodside Amusement Park, the Philadelphia Zoo, Smith Playground, and Shibe Park. Today, the area still has an array of amenities to offer, boasts a variety of architectural styles, and serves as a major transportation hub, with access to numerous SEPTA routes, roadways, and highways.

Over the years, the neighborhood has been called home by different cultural groups. Once largely inhabited by Jewish and German families, that shifted during the 1950’s & 60’s and the community there has been predominately African American since. Strawberry Mansion is a neighborhood of families, with a sizable amount of homeownership in the community. Many of those houses have belonged to families there for multiple generations. The residents take a lot of pride in their community and are actively involved in continuing to shape its future.

Community Routes

Check out the interactive map below for some of the resources and sights that Strawberry Mansion 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.

Ride Safety Tips

View pdf Version of Original Strawberry Mansion Guide

photo by Project Home
photo by Project Home

Stephen Klein Wellness Center Tour

The Stephen Klein Wellness Center is a community resource that provides health services to people of all ages, with or without insurance. Nutrition classes and coffee meet-ups are also offered. While traveling along Ridge Avenue is a more direct route, it tends to have heavy traffic. The suggested route is more approachable to new riders.

Route starts at 33rd & Dauphin Streets and runs east on Dauphin Street.

photo by Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
photo by Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

Reservoir Drive Loop Tour

Take a tour of East Fairmount Park! Be sure to check out some of the historic mansions along the way, as well as newer destinations like the Discovery Center!

Route starts at 33rd & Dauphin Streets, traveling west into Fairmount Park. It loops around the park on Reservoir Drive before heading back north on 33rd Street, continuing past the starting destination onto Ridge Avenue, and reenters Fairmount Park via Huntington Drive.

photo by Ronald Saari
photo by Ronald Saari

Hank Gathers Youth Access Center to Strawberry Mansion Bridge Tour

College basketball star, Hank Gathers was a legend from the neighborhood. The rec center named in his honor is an important community resource, offering many after-school and summer programs. Take a ride from this community staple through Fairmount Park to see the Strawberry Mansion Bridge!

Route starts outside the center at 25th & Diamond Streets, heading west on Diamond Street.

Suggested Routes for Traveling from Strawberry Mansion

Here are some routes we recommend to help you get to University City, Center City, the Centennial Commons, and the Schuylkill River Trail/Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The University City & Center City routes both start from the Indego station at 33rd & Dauphin, traveling south on 33rd Street.

The Centennial Commons route starts from the Indego station at 33rd & Diamond, traveling north on 33rd Street.

The Schuylkill River Trail/Philadelphia Museum of Art route starts from the Indego station at 29th & Diamond, traveling south on 29th Street.

For more information about available stations in the area, please visit the station map.

Neighborhood Resources

Strawberry Mansion CDC

2829 W. Diamond St.

Strawberry Mansion Community Development Corporation (SMCDC) was founded in 2004 to promote sustainable revitalization through residential, commercial, and economic development; historic preservation; and the empowerment of the Strawberry Mansion community. Although troubled by disinvestment and blight in the past, today the neighborhood is experiencing renewal and growth at a tremendous pace. SMCDC was formed to drive this renewal, to empower residents, and to preserve the unique character of the community.

Visit their Website

The Discovery Center

3401 Reservoir Dr.

Open since 2018 as a collaboration between the National Audubon Society and the Philadelphia Outward Bound School, this groundbreaking venture turned a century-old, abandoned reservoir into a unique wildlife sanctuary that serves as a national model for partnership and collaboration and reaches more than 15,000 students a year. The Discovery Center protects a unique habitat rarely found in major urban areas, which serves as an important stopover location for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway and provides education and adventure programs that inspire self-discovery, foster personal achievement, and build community across Philadelphia.

Visit their Website

Strawberry Mansion PAL Center

3133 Ridge Ave.

This Police Athletic League of Philadelphia Center provides a safe place and positive environment for “kids to be kids,” while introducing them to a large variety of free athletic and educational opportunities. By providing these valuable experiences the programs aim to help reduce crime in our neighborhoods, promote positive character development, and improve educational outcomes for Philadelphia’s children.

Visit their Website

Residents Who Have Helped Shape the Community

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Alan Lomax

Mr. Alan Lomax was a community champion, a lifelong resident of Strawberry Mansion, and a former Indego Ambassador who worked for decades to advocate for cycling, healthy living, and community involvement. His passion was to make life better for others in the neighborhood. He worked with the Strawberry Mansion CDC, Friends of East Park, and was an early supporter of Indego and the Cadence Youth Cycling Team.

In recognition of all of his meaningful work, the Strawberry Mansion CDC honored Mr. Lomax with an award for his service to the community. The 33rd & Diamond Street Indego station is also dedicated to him.  For more details, including personal reflections on Mr. Alan Lomax's impact, check out this blog entry.

 

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Vernon Marks

The rich history of Strawberry Mansion has been built with the help of past and present residents. One such resident was Vernon Marks known as the “GodFather” of North Philadelphia. Vernon Marks moved to Philadelphia in 1950 after serving in the military during WWII. Upon his arrival in Philadelphia, Vernon became the first African American Bail Bondsman in Pennsylvania. Working side by side with Cecil B. Moore as Chief of Staff in the 5th District Office, Vernon championed the needs of Strawberry Mansion to ensure the resident’s voices were heard. Vernon’s career spanned several different avenues, he was appointed as the Director of the Community Development Unit by Philadelphia City Council, chaired the City’s Vacant Property Review Committee, and served as an advisor to the Strawberry Mansion Housing Coalition. Vernon Marks helped shape a community with his dedication, hard work, and love for his neighbors.

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Anthony "Tony" Langford

Originally from New Jersey, Anthony (Tony) Langford made Philadelphia his home in 1978. Anthony came to Philadelphia to pursue his Master's in Public Administration at Temple University. He later made the city his home and started a career with Philadelphia Gas Works working in various management positions.

Anthony embraced Strawberry Mansion working as a community activist playing several different roles. He was the Committee-person with the 32nd Ward - 10th Division, Board Member of the Strawberry Mansion Community Development Corporation. Living in a community where nature provided a green space that spans the City, Tony was the Vice President and Treasurer of the Fairmount Park Advisory Council. Tony also worked with the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and was appointed a Commissioner of the Parks and Recreation Commission. In honor of Anthony (Tony) Langford’s hard work and dedication to Fairmount Park, Philadelphia City Council renamed the loop on Reservoir Drive, near 33rd & Oxford as “Tony Langford Way” in 2012.

Community Landmarks, Murals & Green Spaces

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The John Coltrane House

1511 N. 33rd St.

A National Historic Landmark located in the heart of Strawberry Mansion is the home of jazz pioneer and legendary saxophonist, John Coltrane. Designated with the highest level for a historic property by the Secretary of the Interior on January 20, 1999, Coltrane’s home created a hub for local Black musicians (both men and women) to showcase their talent. This house was the home that brought jazz to life in a community with rich contributions to Philadelphia’s history.

photo by Historic Strawberry Mansion
photo by Historic Strawberry Mansion

Historic Strawberry Mansion

 2450 Strawberry Mansion Dr.

The largest of the seven Fairmount Park Historic Houses and the neighborhood's namesake, this 18th-century mansion is filled with antiques, fine art, and collectible treasures from the past. It was built in 1789 by Judge William Lewis, a well-known abolitionist and lawyer. It underwent two expansions under its second owner, Judge Joseph Hemphill before being sold to the Fairmount Park Commission in 1867. It wouldn't be until 1930 that the Committee of 1926, a group of public-spirited women led by Mrs. J. Willis Martin, began restoring the mansion and opened it to the public the following year as a historic house museum.

photo by Amber Art and Design
photo by Amber Art and Design

Hatfield House

N. 33rd & W. Girard

This historic farmhouse, constructed around 1760, is the only all-wood historic house in Fairmount Park and has become a cultural hub for the community. The house was moved from its original location near Hunting Park and Pulaski Avenues to its current location in 1930, after it was given to the city by Major Henry Read Hatfield. In 2017, the Fairmount Park Conservancy enlisted Amber Art & Design to begin a one-year Community Catalyst Artist Residency there. Building on the success of that residency, the Hatfield House has continued to serve as a community hub that is welcoming for all and centers the neighborhood’s Black culture and history through art exhibitions, community events, and collaborations with local artists, teachers, and entrepreneurs.

photo by Clear Sound
photo by Clear Sound

Dell Music Center

2400 Strawberry Mansion Dr.

Located in beautiful East Fairmount Park, this open-air amphitheater has offered world-class musical entertainment, family-orientated activities, and educational opportunities in the performing arts since it opened in 1929. Originally known as The Robin Hood Dell East, the Dell Music Center was initially built as the summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra. It is the fourth largest performance venue in Philadelphia and has played host to many musical legends over the years including Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, The Ojay's, and Galdys Knight.

photo by Steve Weinik/Mural Arts Project
photo by Steve Weinik/Mural Arts Project

"Why We Love Coltrane" Mural

29th & Diamond

Created by Ernel Martinez, this mural pays tribute to the great jazz legend and former Strawberry Mansion resident, John Coltrane, who inspired an entire generation of jazz musicians and changed the world of music forever. It was created in 2017, a few years after the neighborhood's original Coltrane mural was lost to demolition. It was important to the community that a new mural be created to pay tribute to him. John Coltrane is a meaningful reminder of the power that one individual can have in their community.

photo by SEPTA
photo by SEPTA

33rd Street Bus Loop & "Arches of Resurgence"

33rd & Dauphin

The 33rd Street Bus Loop serves as a transportation hub for the community, connecting to several different SEPTA routes. A new work of art was added as a part of an improvement project on the loop that was completed in 2013. Neighborhood residents helped fabricate about 200 of the bricks used in the creation of artist, Michael Morgan's Art-in-Transit installation, "Arches of Resurgence." In the span of the arch is a quote from neighborhood legend, John Coltrane, "Look back at the old things and see them in a new light.” The intention behind this quote is seen in both the loop improvement project and the sculpture, as the former incorporated brick and masonry from the original building, and the latter pays homage to the natural environment of Fairmount Park.