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.


Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

Mar 19, 2012

Liddonfield Project's Relationship With Local Businesses - McDonald's

By Rosemary Reeves

Businesses such as McDonald's on Frankford Avenue in Upper Holmesburg have prospered from the patronage of Liddonfield Housing Project residents for many years.  This particular McDonald's has been located across from the project since the 1960s. 

Upper Holmesburg McDonald's

I remember when McDonald's first came to the neighborhood.  It was about 1969.  It was exciting, because the franchise was relatively new.  I used to see the television ads for the fast food restaurant, but had never seen a McDonald's in person.  When it was built, the Upper Holmesburg McDonald's was purely take-out.  There were no seats.  The drive-thru hadn't existed yet, so every customer was a walk-in.  You could get a hamburger, fries and coke for 99 cents.  This was a great deal for families that could not afford to pay expensive restaurant prices.

My family had just moved out of the project, but we lived only a few blocks away.  Every Friday when my father got paid from his maintenance job, Mom wrote a list of how many hamburgers, fries and sodas to order from McDonald's to feed our large family.  My brother Kevin and I would take the list with us as we walked to the fast food restaurant.  The people behind the counter were always smiling, professional and nice.  They treated us with respect no matter how badly we were dressed.  We often wore used clothing from Goodwill, or hand-me-downs from older siblings.  As a kid, I was very self-conscious about my clothes, as people often noticed our rips and tears, ill-fitting garments and scuffed shoes.   But the people behind the counter at McDonald's didn't pay our clothes any mind and this made me feel comfortable and right at home.  After a while, they got so used to us coming there on Fridays that when we arrived they asked for the list.

As our order was being prepared Kevin stayed put while I waited outside the door, gazing at Liddonfield Housing Project a block away in the distance.  Kevin didn't miss it like I did.  "You must never go back there.  Do you understand?" my mother had told me after we left the project.  She thought it was for my own good.  We lived in a house now.  We had moved up from that life.  Mom was so ashamed of having lived in Liddonfield that we were compelled to wash our hands of it.  Every time I stared at the project where we used to live, it put me under a spell.  Then my brother would burst through the doors, trying to hold onto the bags of burgers that were slipping through his hands.  "Quit daydreaming and help me carry this stuff!" he'd say.  I'd grab a couple of bags and look over my shoulder at Liddonfield one last time as we headed home. 

*The demolished housing project was located where the trees are now, behind the white building in the photo.

Related Articles:

The Dining Car Restaurant and Liddonfield Housing Project

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