To read Part 1, click here.

So what happened to York Avenue? After it’s heyday, York Avenue went into EXTREME disrepair and despair. The area became such a horrible neighborhood that it had a sort of time capsule effect, and ancient architecture from Philadelphia’s distant past stood as monuments in the middle of a slum. Wooden houses survived up into the 1960s.

Actual wood row homes, probably well over 150 years old in this 1960 picture. The whole city used to be full of these.

At the York Ave/Buttonwood/5th Street triangle, the Fourth Baptist Church survived but its cool looking tower didn’t.

The church at the triangle, in 1964

Across the triangle from the church, also in 1964

This is what the site of the triangle looks like now. What an improvement!

By 1970 the triangle was destroyed in favor of industrial buildings and surface parking lots. A good call, certainly. In the 1980’s, the eastern portion of the Vine Street Expressway was approved after years of debate and took out the southern portion of York Ave, leaving the little sliver of it where it meets 4th St.

At the surviving intersection of 4th & York. Tells about the road’s early history but not enough cool details. Not to be confused with Old York Road in Jenkintown.

The yellow line shows where York Ave. used to be.

In a city with tons of history, it’s easy enough to learn the well-known tales about the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, or City Hall, but we think there’s some real value to treading down these less worn paths. Sure, maybe York Ave. never caught your attention in the past, but just about every street in Philadelphia has its story to tell. That’s one of the things that makes it so interesting to live in a city that’s been around for hundreds of years. That, and sweet delicious cheesesteaks.