Communities are diverse and complex in their structure. Many communities have a long standing history as well as a standing reputation within the community or area it resides in. North Philadelphia, particularly the “Golden Block”, has a strong cultured Hispanic community. Although the neighborhood itself at one time had an extremely negative reputation, its community continues to break down those stereotypes through its artistic endeavors and community institutions.
The “Golden Block” is known to many Hispanic Philadelphians as a community full of their native culture. The “Golden Block”, located on North 5th Street, is the center of the community’s business district. “The Golden Block is Philadelphia’s identifiable Latino commercial district, situated in the heart of the city’s largest residential concentration of Latinos. For many new migrants and immigrants, el barrio is a place to seek out support, services, and culture in one’s tongue. It is home to many of the community’s largest cultural, social, and service organizations. For established Latinos, it represents a cultural heart and a center of activity.”(Wilson, 2006)
Unfortunately this center of culture and community was once known as “The Badlands”. The area surrounding North 5th Street was drug infested and adorned with abandoned houses. "This is ground zero for the heroin business in the Northeastern United States," Forrest Sawyer says in the documentary, referring to the corner. "Five square miles in Philadelphia the locals call the Badlands.” (Jones, 2001)
Although the neighborhood once had a reputation as the “Badlands” it’s community and those invested in it worked together to clean it up. "This is a neighborhood that has a reputation for being one of the most drug- and crime-infested neighborhoods in the entire city of Philadelphia," Mayor Street says. "We made a commitment ... and we are going to take back this neighborhood for the hard-working men and women who have invested in the neighborhood." (Jones, 2001) The people within the community believe in its potential and work hard to keep it a place where they can live.
Picture is of Philadelphia’s Bloque de Oro (Golden Block), provided by Hsp.com
Jones, Solomon. “When Badlands go Good.” Philadelphia Weekly. February 7, 2001.http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/view.php?id=665
. April 19, 2006.
Wilson, Kathryn. “Building El Barrio: Latinos Transform Postwar Philadelphia”.http://www.hsp.org/
. April 18, 2006.
Wilson, Kathryn. “Cultural Expressions”. http://www.hsp.org/
. April 18, 2006.