Powelton's Main Street

Powelton Village

Every neighborhood has a Main Street. Penn’s western edge has 40th Street. Residents west of 43rd St. have Baltimore Avenue. And Powelton Village—a cluster of historic streets, old houses broken up into student apartments and scattered single-family residences located on the northern border of University City—has Lancaster Avenue.

Cutting diagonally through Powelton, Lancaster Ave. begins at Drexel University and runs northwest through the neighborhood, meeting Girard and City avenues along the way.

Of interest in this edition of “Out And About” are a couple of blocks, not far from Penn, where new businesses—and old neighborhood standbys—line the sidewalks, helping to revitalize Powelton’s own Main Street.

Fencing, yoga, spinach pie

The Community Education Center, located at the corner of 34th St. and Lancaster, has for the past two decades provided low-cost arts activities and classes to the community. It also opens its doors to serve as a meeting space for civic or social events. On the mild but overcast afternoon I walk by, there was no outside activity—but there’s plenty going on at night, including “2nd Friday,” the public arts-and-culture walk similar to First Friday in Old City. Also coming up at the CEC is WinterFest 2006, which runs from Thursday Dec. 8 through Sunday, Dec. 10, and features the GroupMotion Dance company and community workshop.

Across the street is Mokas, a Greek restaurant that boasts a fenced outdoor seating area and live music at night. My stomach rumbles in anticipation of some spinach pie, but alas, the eatery is also shut tight—hours are 5 to 11 p.m.

I continue up Lancaster, toward 35th St., passing a hopping pizza joint (Mad Greek’s Pizza) and The Fencing Academy of Philadelphia. I hope to pick up some information on adult classes—but they, too, are closed. (They actually open at 4 p.m. most days and all information can be found on their website: http://mysite.verizon.net/vze2nzjy/index.html).

I press on, past the relocated Power Yoga Works (which moved from the 3900 block of Walnut St.) and the bustling Urban & Bye real estate office.
The triangular open space at the corners of Lancaster, 36th and Race streets is empty today, but hosts a farmers market on the weekends.

Arts to Zocalo

The 3600 block is anchored by two long-standing quality restaurants, Zocalo (Mexican) and Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant (see Movable Feast, page 8).

Between those eateries sits Doctor Cycles, a tune-up place for your bike, and a new store, Resource, which sells bags, buttons, clothing and other gift items from more than 50 local artists. The space offers a number of reasonably priced items, including pouches and purses that start around $10, delicate beaded jewelry and unusual handmade notecards for $4 to $6 a piece.

Across the street is the home of Dancefusion, a troupe that celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2007. Powelton has long been a desirable destination for arts groups, with tenants as diverse as Spiral Q Puppet Theatre and the East Africa Resource and Study Center. There are a few empty storefronts along this stretch (room for even more arts organizations to move in, perhaps?), but filling one of those gaps is the newest outpost of the Green Line-Powelton Village, a coffee shop that sells fairly traded beans and coffee from Equal Exchange and organic teas from Divinitea. While this joint just opened in September—and still has some obvious construction work that needs to be done—University City High School and college-age students have discovered it. It feels like a neighborhood mainstay already.

For more on stores and restaurants in Powelton and University City, go to www.ucityphila.org.

Originally published on December 7, 2006.

Originally published on December 7, 2006