Philadelphia, PA - Northern Liberties Business Improvement District announces plans to celebrate the neighborhood’s rich history this February. Launching for Black History Month are two new activations, including a new Audio Walking Tour: Northern Liberties Black History and Window Stories, a series of vinyl window clings that tell the stories of Black residents who lived in Northern Liberties in the 1800’s. The combined activities create a loop that pair together around the neighborhood that makes for a leisurely stroll through Philadelphia’s original suburb. The activations will be live and ready to enjoy Friday, February 10th. While visiting the neighborhood in February, support Black owned businesses that include 1040 Creative, Trunc, Art Lair Shave Parlor, Ends Hair Design & Day Spa, Maleek Jackson Fitness Boxing Gym, The 700, The Fitness Ethic, The Lancaster Barbershop and others. Additionally, Trunc will host Back Then: The History of Us - Negro Spirituals, Dance Food and More Every Saturday in February from 4:00pm to 7:00pm at 929 N. 2nd Street, plus Trunc will host Seen or Unseen Opening Reception - The art of Barbara Kigozi and Wanda Payne on February 11th from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. For a full list of all happenings and businesses, visit https://www.explorenorthernliberties.org/
Northern Liberties is well known as a key stop in the Underground Railroad during the mid-1800’s, but at that time it was also considered The Workshop of the World . Black residents were an important part of that narrative and Window Stories will provide viewers with a more textured understanding of their lives. From an oysterman to a historic church, the tour offers visitors an opportunity to explore the neighborhood’s cobblestone alleys and pre-civil war houses.
“We have such a rich history in this neighborhood,” said Northern Liberties Business Improvement District (NLBID) executive director Kristine Kennedy. “Much of it has been forgotten by modern Philadelphians, but Black History Month is the perfect time to bring some of it back to life.”
The Northern Liberties Audio Tour formed from Kennedy’s own deep research into Black history in Northern Liberties. “I kept trying to learn more about the Underground Railroad, but only found vague platitudes. I wanted to know about the people and places that were a part of it. So I dug into census data and the personal accounts such as those captured by William Still,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy was introduced to Window Stories designer and copywriter Monna Morton by Dorothea Gamble, owner of a shop on North 2nd that showcases locally-made and Black-made goods. Morton is a professor of graphic design and advertising at
University of the Arts and shares a passion for telling stories through images and text. Morton worked with Kennedy on selecting the stories then conducted her own research to complete the narratives and accompanying visuals. There are five storefront locations that will host these vinyl window clings which are printed with images and text that tell a specific Black history story.
WINDOW STORIES LOCATIONS:
601 N 2nd Street - Penn Herb Company
Herbal remedies - at-home herbal remedies were a go-to for many freed Black Philadelphians when professional healthcare was difficult to access.
400 Fairmount Ave - Suya Suya West African Cuisine
Pepperpot - this spicy soup is derived from Spanish and West African dishes and was served on street corners primarily by Black women. Suya Suya serves a spicy beef soup that is reminiscent of its American cousin.
734 N 2nd Street - Casa Papel papery
David Bustill Bowser - Bustill Bowser, a resident of Northern Liberties, was a prominent decorative and portrait artist active in the mid-1800’s through his death in 1900.
956 N 2nd Street - Stump Plants
Milliners - Many freed African Americans started their own businesses such as catering, hair dressing, and dress or hat making.
1040 N 2nd Street - El Camino Real restaurant
Oystermen - For a long time, oyster shucking was a common profession for Black residents in Northern Liberties. Some worked in taverns and some worked in the market shed that ran down the middle of 2nd Street for more than a century.
NORTHERN LIBERTIES AUDIO TOUR
The audio tour will go live on February 10th. A link to the audio tour, show notes, images, and additional preview information can be found at https://www.explorenorthernliberties.org/black-history/
Back Then: The History of Us - Negro Spirituals, Dance, Food and More
Location: Trunc 929 N 2nd Street
When: Every Saturday in February 4-7pm
More info: www.trunc.net
Seen or Unseen Opening Reception
The art of Barbara Kigozi and Wanda Payne
Location: Trunc 929 N 2nd Street
When: February 11th 4-7pm
This exhibit runs through end of April
More info: www.trunc.net
1040 N 2nd St #301
7 Boys Collective
1040 N American St #1001
Art Lair Shave Parlor
732 N 2nd St
AT&T Cellular Concepts
937 N 2nd St
Ends Hair Design & Day Spa
624 N. Front St.
Maleek Jackson Fitness Boxing Gym
926 N. 2nd St.
608 N. 2nd St.
1033 N 2nd St
700 N. 2nd St.
The Fitness Ethic
618 N. Front St.
The Lancaster Barbershop
210 Fairmount Ave.
929 N. 2nd St.
ABOUT NORTHERN LIBERTIES BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT
Northern Liberties Business Improvement District was formed in 2018 to provide supplements to the municipal services of the City of Philadelphia; maintain a safe, clean and vibrant commercial district for the benefit of the residents, users, and owners within the district, and to citizens of Philadelphia and the region; to create opportunities for the business and residential communities to come together to make improvements to the district; and develop and implement programs and services that ensure that Northern Liberties continues to be a desirable place to live, work, shop, invest and visit. For more information, see explorenorthernliberties.org.