New and longtime residents of East Falls can gain new understanding of their neighborhood by coming to one, or preferably both, programs of the East Falls Historical Society that will occur during the East Falls Festival. Steven Peitzman, a physician and historian with Drexel University, will offer a free illustrated lecture titled “Origins of Modern East Falls: A Suburb in the City,” on Wednesday, October 28th at 7:00 pm at the Falls of Schuylkill Library (a preceding business meeting of the EFHS will start at 6:30).
Much of what is now deemed East Falls outside the old village grew out of the early twentieth-century development of land acquired by oil magnate William G. Warden. A semi-planned “garden suburb” in the city, the developers, the notable firm of Wendell and Smith, gave the district the idyllic name “Queen Lane Manor” and
hired mostly young architects to design picturesque houses. Dr. Peitzman will place this story in its historical context.
On Saturday, October 31, lecturer and architectural tour guide Kenneth Hinde will lead a walking tour titled “Midvale Avenue: The Spine of East Falls.” Midvale Avenue is the main thoroughfare within East Falls, beginning at the Schuylkill River and continuing up to Wissahickon Avenue. Strolling it (uphill!) from its intersection with Ridge Avenue, one can experience East Falls’ commercial district, then enter a diverse residential neighborhood, ranging from worker housing built when Falls of Schuylkill was a mill town, to the middle-class and upper middle-class housing of Queen Lane Manor. Crossing over Henry Avenue into “Grace Kelly country,” the residences become even grander with larger, single homes situated around
McMichael Park (the tour will digress to see the Kelly House).
The two-hour tour will meet at Midvale & Ridge Avenues at 10:00 a.m. and end at Midvale and Fox Street. The fee is $15, but $10 for EFHS members. Kenneth Hinde and Steven Peitzman have collaborated on several successful East Falls walking tours, and of course are coordinating these two events. Together, they afford a unique opportunity to learn about the history and built environment of our old but vibrant neighborhood.