Perhaps, over the years, you’ve wondered about the boxy little one-story building on the southeast corner of 18th & Christian. We remember back when Fatou and Fama, a Senegalese restaurant, operated out of the space several years ago, and we remember even more clearly how the space has sat vacant in more recent years, utilized primarily as storage space for the Christian Street YMCA.
The Christian Street Y, if you’re unfamiliar with the history, has been operating out of 1724 Christian St. since 1914, and has more or less looked as it does today since a 1974 remodel. This YMCA is notable not only because it’s a tremendous community resource in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood today, but because it was the first black YMCA to have its own building. According to the South Philly Review, Overbrook legend Wilt Chamberlain was a member of this Y’s team, which won the 1953 YMCA championship.
But back to the building on the corner: it was acquired by the YMCA back in 2005. Since then, as we mentioned above, it’s been used mostly for storage. Several months ago, representatives from the Y went before the SOSNA Zoning Committee, requesting approval for a variance to renovate the building to use it as an after school space. If you’ve walked through this neighborhood recently, you’ve surely noticed the proliferation of strollers, so this use seems entirely appropriate. Apparently, there’s so many kids, the YMCA needs the space, which is certainly encouraging for the area.
Peeking in the window, we saw new floors, some desks, and a bunch of chairs for the little ones.
If you live in the area and haven’t checked out the Y, you should probably get over there today. Did we mention there’s an indoor pool? What are you waiting for?