The Strip

West Philly’s Main Street, aka “the Strip,” is a commercial corridor on South 52nd Street that stretches from Arch Street to the north and Baltimore Avenue to the south. In a 2012 interview with Hidden City Philadelphia, Shirley Randleman, then-president of the 52nd Street Business Association, recounted:

Oh, it was wonderful. It was a thriving commercial corridor surrounded by a neighborhood that was financially stable. The 52nd Street corridor had five movie theaters, many high-end clothing stores, and eateries like Horn & Hardart, with the nickel automats. There were bakeries, doctor’s offices, and independent stores, like Buster Brown shoes. 52nd Street was the entertainment capital of West Philadelphia, AKA “the Strip,” and every top notch entertainer found his way there. It was more than just shops; it was the community meeting place. People were engaged in conversations in every shop and on the streets. We lived together.

In the 1960s and ‘70s, the Strip was the place to see and to be seen.

Celebrities including Muhammad Ali, Cab Calloway, Billy Eckstine, Joe Frazier, Teddy Pendergrass, Stevie Wonder, and members of the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies hung out at Mr. Silk’s 3rd Base. Everyone ordered Mammer Jammer sandwiches at Foo Foo’s Steak House. Top jazz performers played the Aqua Lounge. Etta James and Jackie “Moms” Mabley graced the stage of the State Theatre in April 1963.

For more risqué entertainment, there was the Pony Tail.

Fast forward to today, the Enterprise Center is spearheading efforts to revitalize the 52nd Street Corridor.