Old World New World

by TheSpot

The South 9th Street Italian Market in Philadelphia is undoubtedly one of the stand out neighborhoods in the country.  Many big cities across the U.S. contain a Little Italy section or area dedicated to the history of immigration.  Many of the businesses are generational spanning over several decades.

What makes the South 9th Street Italian Market special?  Let’s take a little walk down history lane.  By historical accounts, the Market was founded by Antonio Palumbo, an Italian immigrant who opened a boarding house for other immigrants in the late 1800s.  Shortly thereafter, businesses and an outdoor market sprang up.  Such businesses were butchers, cheese shops, and bakeries offering the highest quality products.

Today many of these shops remain the same family started from previous generations.  Butchers, seafood purveyors, cheese shops, and world class bakeries proudly advertise their establishments going strong for over a century.  The South 9th Street Italian Market was put on the map when it was immortalized in the film Rocky.  The fictional character is seen running down 9th Street which has come to represent the grit and toughness of Philadelphians.

What is 9th Street like today?  Simply known as 9th Street to locals, the market extends from Federal up to Fitzwater.  The outdoor market still exists by diverse ethnic groups as well as restaurants, taquerias, and specialty food stores.   You can put all of those establishments  on your list and make a day trip out of it.  There are tours available that will not only explain the history of the Market, but will make local stops to sample some of the world’s best specialty shops.  Pick up some cheeses from around the world at Claudio’s and Di Bruno Bros.  Find out why Sarcone’s bread is so good that restaurants have it flown across the country.  Pick up a pastry from Isgro’s that are so heavenly, they personally attended to the Pope during his stay in Philadelphia.  Have dinner at the historic Ralph’s Italian Restaurant that now holds the title of oldest Italian restaurant in the country.  Of course, we can’t forget the annual Italian Festival held each May which in recent years saw the return of the grease pole.

Plan your visit in the spring, around the holidays, or on a beautiful summer or fall day.  There is always something to see, something to do, and  something to eat.  See history 100 years in the making and make it a part of your history.