"I’ve seen a lot of change. When we first moved on this block there were a lot of Black families living here. Now, there are just a handful of Black homeowners. I see more of difference between th..."
THE REDLINE PROJECT uses digital storytelling and community engagement to shed light on residents' experiences with gentrification from the Graduate Hospital area through to Point Breeze in South Philadelphia. Through three curated story circles, residents shared personal accounts of how they have been impacted by the changing dynamics of their neighborhood. The storytellers have been audiotaped and photographed. These stories and images are a public record of what stood before gentrification, and the hopes and dreams of both longstanding and new residents.
"I moved to the 1600 block of Latona Street. I had my children; they had friends from school. On Saturday mornings the girls on the block would come out..."
"I came here with the intention only be here for two years. I intentionally did not get involved, because of coming from Newark and seeing people being very transient and not giving the city what it needed."
"My name is Albert Custis. I’m 42 years old and I’ve lived in South Philadelphia my whole life. I am a legislative assistant to State Representative Jordan A. Harris."
"Last week, on my way out to the bus, I saw a family I didn’t recognize getting out of a car in front of a For Sale sign. I said hi. The woman looked around, said “You live here?”
"If you want to come into the community I want you to bring something to the neighborhood."
VISUAL DOCUMENTARIAN/WEBSITE DESIGN
Angela M. Gervasi
Emily ivy Scott
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson
"My roles as a councilperson and a longtime resident of Point Breeze are intertwined. Once elected, I could have moved anywhere, but I decided to continue planning my family in the neighborhood where I grew up."
"I was 25 and searching. And then 911 shook my foundation. I was looking for my space and my place. I had a new desperation to do what I loved. I decided to go to graduate school. Away from home. Far from family. I challenged myself to do what was scary."
"I grew up across the tracks—above Washington Avenue. We would faithfully come out with the block captains on Saturdays, scrub the steps, clean up the streets. When it snowed, younger folks shoveled."
"The steps were our safe haven. The steps were our place, all the neighborhood kids were allowed on the steps, we would sleep on the steps, we didn’t have to lock our doors, all the kids were brothers, sisters, and cousin all growing up in each others houses."
"I am a top real estate agent who has been living in South Philadelphia for 15 years. As a Black professional, I chose Point Breeze at a time when the challenges were much more significant than they are today in terms of crime, educational achievement and poor housing stock."
"When I moved to Point Breeze, it was 90% Italian. There were only three black families on the block. Once more blacks started moving in, the Italians started running out to the suburbs."
Dr. Andre Ford
"I grew up in Chicago. Just like families in Philly, our parents require us to cleaned our streets and our block we knew our neighbors, we play games on our block our parents played cards on the porches the our homes we had a community just like Philadelphia."
"I moved to 22nd and Snyder in 2010, ahead of the gentrification curve. I just didn’t realize gentrification would be happening so quickly—I should have, because it happened so quickly everywhere I’ve moved in my life. I think when you see a punk house around the corner, you know what’s going to happen in the next three years."
"To me, genrification isn’t really the problem, but affordable housing is really the main issue. A few years ago, a first-time homebuyer could buy a property for between $50 and $100,000, and now recent home prices are up to $400,000. This presents a challenge for two income households. That’s the real rub in South Philadelphia."
Ilene Van Dyke
"I am who I am because I grew up on Fitzwater St. We were sitting on the stoop one night with my neighbors and I, old, young, black and white, everyone was there, and that evening they taught me “the look” and the raising of my index finger… I learned I’d need to know nothing else. No words would be necessary."
"When I relocated in 2007 from Verona, Italy to Philadelphia, I moved in to my sisters house in Wynnfield with my three children."
"At my old apartment, I’d never met anyone. I lived there for 8 years. At my new house, after returning the moving trunk, covered in dust and sweat, the welcome wagon arrived. Two hours in and I knew all my neighbors. Invited from house to house, meeting everyone, sharing stories, having drinks, it was a party. I was joining a community, moving into an extended family. People genuinely cared."
"A couple months after moving in, Patrick and I came home from work and there were a lot of people outside and we asked “What’s going on?” “Larry died.” And almost immediately drinks started flowing, doors opened up and suddenly we were in the middle of a block wide wake for Larry. "
"When I was growing up in South Philly, my friends and neighbors were Italian, Black, Irish and Polish, there weren’t more 20 Black families in the neighborhood. Most of the people were not home owners, but were renters, but everybody got along. Money wasn’t an issue because everyone was poor, but CLEAN."
NEIGHBORS IN ACTION
"I’m 74 years old and I’ve lived in South Philly my whole life. I’ve worked for the government, at a non-profit called South Philadelphia Homes, and served as the Neighborhood Advisory Council Director for Point Breeze. I also worked as Point Breeze Avenue Corridor manager to help build up the avenue."
About the Artist
Lisa Nelson-Haynes is the Executive Director of Philadelphia Young Playwrights (PYP), where she helps young people discover their potential through the art of the play. An award-winning storyteller and teacher, Lisa has facilitated digital storytelling workshops for Storycenter (Berkeley, CA), served as the Northeast Regional Desk for the National Performance Network, and acted as a board member for the Lansdowne Arts Board and Independence Charter School. She’s also a Leeway Foundation Art & Change grant recipient and has participated as a grants review panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts, MidAtlantic Arts Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. Prior to her work with PYP, Lisa acted as Associate Director of Painted Bride Art Center, bringing world-class artists to Philadelphia from around the globe. Before that, Lisa taught film at Temple University and was curator at the Neighborhood Film Project at Philadelphia’s International House.
"So, I’m a criminal defense attorney and I’m an advocate for criminal justice. I bought in Point Breeze 11 years ago and I’ve seen a lot of change in the neighborhood… some things good, some things bad. I recently moved to the Graduate Hospital neighborhood, and when I moved, I rented out my property to my business partner."
"If a mirror could function as a time machine I could whisper in my younger ear I would hope to be wise enough to advise That me to soak up as much of my childhood As I possibly could, before it totally disappears."