The Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee's Annual Clean Block Contest is underway and one of this year's judges, Ainé Ardron-Doley, is letting Eyes on the Street tag along to see the incredible work neighbors are doing to care for their small corners of the city. Ainé and her sister Emaleigh are co-block captains of West Rockland Street, which was in the Clean Block Contest last year and won the Neighborhood Transformation Award. This year she received a letter inviting her to be a judge. She accepted.
On Tuesday, Ainé explained the contest and showed off beautiful blocks in Yorktown, Point Breeze, Kingsessing, and Pennsport in part one of this miniseries. On the second day of judging the trolley stopped at Potter Street in Juniata Park, Loretto Avenue in Oxford Circle, Carpenter Street in Cobbs Creek, and East Rittenhouse Street in East Germantown. Here's what Ainé saw.
The Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee’s Annual Clean Block Contest
Day Two: September 27
4300 Block, Potter Street
It’s Day 2 of the Clean Block Contest and 4300 Potter Street in the Juniata Park is first up.
The even side of these two story brick row homes was built in 1958. In 1959, the odd! Potter Street is made up of about 90% homeowners.
That’s street, curb and grass. All super clean.
Clean Block Officer Joe Miranda and one of the younger block captains so far, 40 year-old Miguel Vargas. Miguel decided to become a block captain after a resident wrote in to the Juniata News about the poor condition of the block.
Potter Street residents took ownership of an eyesore by painting the side of this warehouse at the end of their block. Empowerment.
Judges and residents walk the block.
The Block Captain has a barbershop on the corner of the block, part of his house.
This is Little Ace, the youngest resident on 4300 Potter Street.
Sometimes it takes posting signs to help reinforce rules and show that a block is organized.
Potter Street tries to curb speeding on their block.
Freshly painted fire hydrants are a regular on the contest blocks.
5900 Block, Loretto Avenue
Next up, it’s the 5900 block of Loretto Avenue in Oxford Circle, Northeast Philadelphia. All of the homes were built by 1930 but none sold until 1935 because of The Great Depression.
The block residents gather for a group photo. There are people from West Africa, Haiti, China, Vietnam, The Dominican Republic, Belgium and Jamaica on this working class block.
Cockscomb grows on Loretto Avenue.
Gardens are a plenty on Loretto Avenue. A front yard watermelon patch yields huge melons up to 20 pounders.
On the right is a Loretto Ave resident, champion front yard watermelon grower and proud Philadelphian.
It’s late September and the Zinnias are going strong, peeking through the wrought iron railing.
6000 Block, Carpenter Street
It’s Harvest Time on the 6000 Block of Carpenter Street in Cobbs Creek, West Philly. This is a copy of the block’s history.
Judges exit the trolley to dancing, singing and clapping residents to the tune “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.
The exciting welcome continues.
In 1910, the area that makes up the 6000 block of Carpenter Street was purchased from the City of Philadelphia for just $1. It’s now full of two and three story twin homes.
All of the homes on the block have retaining walls and raised gardens. By the late 70’s the block was primarily African-American.
Harvest decorations on Carpenter Street. A house hasn’t been for sale on this block for 24 years.
The block captain, Stan Williams addresses the judges and recognizes residents who have lived on the block between 30 and 54 years.
Judges listen and take notes.
The block captain receives signs, broom and butler from PMBC’s Wanda Jones-Heading.
Miss Ardella Panell, longest living resident on the block at 55 years! Ardella is also known to sweep up the block through rain, sleet or snow - sometimes two and three times per day.
This is Miss Alice Dixon and her granddaughter. Alice is the oldest resident on the block at 90 years young! Alice was dancing in the street when the trolley arrived. Spunk!
Celosia grows on Carpenter Street, a block first organized officially 34 years ago. Three original block committee members are still involved.
Carpenter Street pulls off something tricky: Engaging the youth. There are many young people involved in the block on this street.
Manpower. The Block Captain and Co-Block Captain are men. This is Stan Williams and Nigel Gibbs.
The way it started on Carpenter is the way it ends, dancing.
It takes a village.
1000 Block, East Rittenhouse Street
Arriving in East Germantown on 1000 E. Rittenhouse Street, a resident passes out copies of the block history to judges.
Original residents on the block were Italian immigrants, skilled stonemasons and tile setters. The homes have beautiful stone and brickwork.
Maintenance and care of the beloved emerald isle on E. Rittenhouse Street is what first sparked the block to become organized in the 1940’s.
Getting tropical in East Germantown.
Block residents proudly wrote about the stonework in the block’s history.
The block worked with Awbury Neighbors and the Fairmount Park Commission to plant 12 new trees.
This is a lawn like Wimbledon.
Signs are a theme throughout the clean block contest.
Another look at what residents call “Paradise Island” on 1000 E Rittenhouse Street.
The road less taken, a border around the yard made of neatly arranged stones.
Green is definitely the theme of this quiet peaceful block.
This is Miss Alice and Mr. Gerald. They were recognized by the block captain for their unending effort to keep their block clean. Miss Alice spoke about their work as a duty and a responsibility.
Old Glory shows up again at the final block of Day 2 of the Clean Block Contest.
Next week Ainé will bring us to blocks in Dunlap, Southwest Center City, Germantown, and Overbrook.