Stories about life in Liddonfield housing project and its impact on the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Upper Holmesburg. These true stories reveal how government policy affected the lives of real people, from the project residents to area homeowners during the 5 decades of Liddonfield’s existence. Stories and articles are written by a former resident of the project.

FIGHT THE STIGMA!

FIGHT THE STIGMA!
Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

Jan 9, 2012

The Year That Resurrected Liddonfield's Past

By Rosemary Reeves


The year 2011 marked the end of an era for the Upper Holmesburg neighborhood in Philly.  Liddonfield Housing Project was demolished after existing for more than five decades.  It had become a crumbling shell of what it once was, a dangerous place where shots rang out in the night, drugs were rampant and criminals ruled.   When Liddonfield was demolished this past summer, the only people who mourned its demise were its former residents.  As members of an isolated community cut off from the larger one, they had developed an unwavering loyalty to their housing project, even as it fell into severe decline.

For five decades, they were ignored.  While there has been much coverage in the local press about criminal activity and protests against the housing project, Liddonfield’s human story was unreported and undocumented.  This is because a reporter’s job is to focus on news.  Never before has a Liddonfielder revealed a tell-all story about the project, including the decades long rivalry between the project inhabitants and the larger Upper Holmesburg community from the perspective of someone who lived it.   In an unprecedented move, on April 25, 2011, I became the only Liddonfielder to do so by writing War of the Haves and the Have-Nots, the first in a series of blog posts entitled The Liddonfielders.

On Sept 16, 2011, we had our Liddonfield Reunion at Canstatter’s.  Former residents of the project celebrated its more than fifty years of existence, re-lived old times there and exchanged stories about what has happened to them since.  Some had become high achievers.  One was a pilot and another was now a wealthy real estate agent.  Most still lived in Upper Holmesburg. 

On September 22, 2011 this blog received coverage in Hidden City Philadelphia in the article Liddonfield Gone, Northeast Village Lingers (in memory) by journalist

Jack McCarthy. 

 

A month later, Fred Moore of the Northeast Philadelphia History Network  and I collaborated on researching the history of Liddonfield Housing Project.   The focus of my research was delving into newspaper articles about the project dating back several decades.  Fred Moore, who is a local historian, uncovered Liddonfield’s ties to Pennsylvania abolitionist Abraham Liddon Pennock, which was a surprising and exciting development.  On December 19, 2011 a written proposal for a historic marker to be placed at the former Liddonfield site was submitted to the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association.   The findings of our historical research were included in the proposal.  


More about Liddonfield’s history will be in future posts.  Also, if your organization or group would like to request my appearance for a presentation on Liddonfield Housing Project, please see the "Speaking Engagements" page for info.


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