The History of SGCDC and the Spring Garden Community

SGCDC was founded over 25 years ago to revitalize the blighted residential and business sections of the Spring Garden community; to help eradicate poverty and the insidious effects of poverty; to bring together our diverse residents in congenial projects and activities; and to provide much-needed jobs, upgraded affordable housing opportunities, greening, improved parks, playgrounds and social venues, better educational opportunities, and a broad array of community services, including youth programs. See Our Mission, and Programs

The Spring Garden neighborhood dates back to the early 1800s. By the mid-to-late 19th century, the area had become home to successful business magnates who built large handsome Victorian homes on wide tree-and-garden lined streets.. It later became one of the first Latino communities in Philadelphia, with residents moving into the area from Puerto Rico.

In the early 20th century, the neighborhood began to decline; and, by the end of World War II, it had become blighted and dangerous. Violent gangs took over much of the community; and many residents moved away.

Starting in the 1960’s, young artists and professionals began to move back to the area to rehab large, run-down historic properties. PHA also developed over 300 units of affordable housing.

In the late 1980s, 2 violent cocaine drug gangs took over the community. Local law enforcement officials were powerless to deal with the problem and the community was forced to seek the help of the Federal government - - with its extensive powers and crime-fighting tools - - and to take to the streets in protest. In 1989-90, over 85 major dealers, operating two $40-million-a-year drug rings in Spring Garden, were federally indicted and incarcerated.

SGCDC was founded in 1994 to revitalize the blighted portions of the residential and business community and to carry out the other projects, programs and services described in its Mission and Programs.

Since that time, Spring Garden has undergone a dramatic transformation. In 2000, it was designated as a City of Philadelphia Historic District, resulting in the preservation of the community's priceless historic Victorian architecture and heritage; a proposed baseball stadium near Broad and Spring Garden Streets (12th and Noble Streets) was stopped, along with a District-incompatible 52 story high-rise at 22nd and Spring Garden Streets; nearly all of the once-pervasive blight has been eliminated; numerous single family homes and multi-family properties have been built/renovated; "The Spring Gardens" community garden was founded; the local Roberto Clemente Playground was renovated (in part); the stunning Green Street Dog Park was developed; nearly 200 units of affordable housing have been beautifully historically restored and renovated; Eastern State Penitentiary was saved from the wrecking ball and continues to be historically restored, hosting nearly 300,000 visitors a year; our business district and Commercial Corridors have begun to thrive; and many other remarkable changes have taken place.

See the "Programs" tab above for more information on our ongoing programs and services.