Guinea Pig Zero

By gpzero

In Kensington

I had a pleasant evening with friends at a lecture by local historian Kenneth Milano about Philadelphia's nativist riots of 1844, and got a copy of his new book. I know Ken a little, from way back. He knows the Kensington section's history better than anyone else: it flows from him in meticulous detail, telling of his decades of research.

I left my camera charging at home (sigh!), so this is the clearest shot I was able to gather with my phone. It's the current incarnation of St. Michael's Catholic Church, which was one of the three burned down in the rioting, and where the talk was held.

The riots were between US-born Irish Protestants and immigrant Irish Catholics.

This part of Kensington is on its way to being gentrified. For ages it was an infamous drug & gang war zone, but now all of its delinquent buildings have been torn down. About 3/4 of the place consists of empty lots. It was a bit strange walking from the El train stop to the church. Empty (as in totally deserted) city streets in the middle of the afternoon rush hour.

It's a place that's had its share of troubles.

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