Philadelphia's Antique Row lies in the area as does the nation's oldest hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital. Educational and medical facilities associated with, Thomas Jefferson University, a leading regional medical university and health care center, are located within the neighborhood. The one-time headquarters of the former Curtis Publishing Company and the University of the Arts lie at the edges of the neighborhood.
Washington Square West's real estate is characterized by two, three, and four-story townhouses interspersed with condominiums, mid-rise apartments, and offices with ground-floor retail. The neighborhood follows William Penn's original grid layout for the city, with many one-lane and pedestrian side streets added later as the population became more dense. In addition to the block sized Washington Square Park to the East, the neighborhood contains the smaller Kahn Park, named after the Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn.
The name "Washington Square West" came into official use in the late 1950s and early 1960s as part of Edmund Bacon's comprehensive plan for Center City. In this plan, the south-east quadrant of center city was split into Washington Square East (more commonly known as Society Hill) and Washington Square West. Both neighborhoods were scheduled for urban renewal by Philadelphia's City Planning Commission and Redevelopment Authority. After a period of decline in the early 20th century, city officials hoped that redevelopment would clean up the neighborhood and clear blighted areas.
Last Drop Cofffee House
After large-scale renewal of Washington Square East/Society Hill in the early 1960s, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority turned to Washington Square West. In the late 1960s, the Redevelopment Authority bought and demolished buildings and, by the mid 1970s, owned one fifth of the neighborhood. By this time, however, federal money available for urban renewal had declined and the city was no longer able to fund the renewal of Washington Square West. Buildings razed by the city in the 1960s and 1970s were left as empty lots and the neighborhood was left in a state of decline.
Tavern on Camac
Through the late 1970s and 1980 began a slow recovery without the aid of the large-scale redevelopment that had occurred in Society Hill. The 1990s saw a shift in the neighborhood as Mayor Ed Rendell encouraged investment in Center City and gentrification began to take hold. By the end of the 1990s and early 2000s, the neighborhood had transformed into an economically vital community.
Club Body Centre
The Bike Shop
The Washington Square West Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The 61-acre (250,000 m2) area comprises 450 contributing properties.
The area approximately bounded by Chancellor, Pine, 13th, and 11th streets within Washington Square West is known as The Gayborhood. It is so-named because of its large concentration of gay and lesbian friendly small businesses, restaurants, and gay bars. It was also a red light district and center of Philadelphia's gay bathhouse culture in the 1970s and 1980s. The area is the location for Philadelphia's annual OutFest: National Coming Out Day celebration. On 18 April 2007, the city of Philadelphia officially recognized the area by adding 36 gay pride rainbow flag symbols to street signs bordering the Gayborhood area.
Its success as a city neighborhood has led to several attempts at large scale private development in the Gayborhood in the 2000s. In 2002, developer Tony Goldman attempted to change 13th street and its surroundings into the "Blocks Below Broad" or "B3", with the launch of several new retail establishments. The attempt failed, but was repeated in 2006 by a merchants association organized by James McManaman. The organization has attempted to re-brand the neighborhood as "Midtown Village". The association has been successful in launching several new retail establishments along 13th streets, but the name "Midtown Village" has been met with ambivalence by locals.
There are lots of bars and clubs that people might like. Here is a partial list: Knock -- a great bar and a great restaurant with terrific food and a great brunch menu. Usually a large crowd of diverse patrons; More Than Just Ice Cream -- a gaybohood restaurant which serves everything from breakfast to late night meals; Tavern on Camac which has a popular dance floor, a piano bar which is always crowded, and Terra a restaurant with good food and it's own bar; Uncle's is a great neighborhood kind of bar and popular; The Venture Inn is a long time bar/restaurant that everyone knows and loves; The Westbury Bar is a great small bar that has a revitalized restaurant open for dinner only right now; The Bike Stop, our leather bar, has new owners and a continuing loyal crowd; Stir is a classy little place which hosts some great events and is a must see; Q Lounge (the name may change) is a centrally located popular bar which is also a great restaurant; Woody's continues to be popular and is a bar that has been around for a long time; iCandy is the old Twelfth Air Command that has beeen excitingly redone and is host to a number of great events. They have recently begun serving food as well (The Tuscan Tavern); Sisters is out premiere lesbian bar which is welcoming and lots of fun; Newcomers to the gayborhood, include Tabu which is a fun place to spend some time; After hours there's Voyeur, which is often an all night party!Further Readings :
Philly has several huge events through the year and the one that takes over the gayborhood in October (this year it's October 9th) is OUTFEST, this is an event not to be missed. Everyone comes out for this festival and you will see a wide cross section of the gay community. There's entertainment, food, and vendors all around. This is a very popular free event.
Of course, Giovanni's Room is the place to go for books and magazines. The William Way Community Center is a place to go for information and while there see what activities might be happening when you're in town. And The Alexander Inn is a cool place to stay. We've got a Film Festival (July) a Theater Festival (August) and lots of other things which usually draw big attendance.
Just walking around in the gayborhood is fun. Lots of cafes and places to sit. You get to do a lot of people watching in this always busy section of town. Almost anywhere you'll go is a gay-friendly venue, so that will make your visit easy.
There are lots more gay-friendly places. –Joseph DeMarco
City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945-1972 by Marc Stein
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Temple University Press (August 2004)
Amazon: City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945-1972
Marc Stein's "City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves" is refreshing for at least two reasons: it centers on a city that is not generally associated with a vibrant gay and lesbian culture, and it shows that a community was forming long before the Stonewall rebellion. In this lively and well received book, Marc Stein brings to life the neighborhood bars and clubs where people gathered and the political issues that rallied the community. He reminds us that Philadelphians were leaders in the national gay and lesbian movement and, in doing so, suggests that New York and San Francisco have for too long obscured the contributions of other cities to gay culture. Marc Stein is the former editor of Gay Community News in Boston and currently Associate Professor in the Department of History, York University.
Gay and Lesbian Philadelphia (PA) (Images of America) by Thom Nickels
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing (April 8, 2002)
Amazon: Gay and Lesbian Philadelphia (PA) (Images of America)
The diverse landscape of gay and lesbian Philadelphia is a story of highs and lows. From rustic post-Civil War days when Camden poet Walt Whitman crossed the Delaware River on a ferry or caroused Market Street "eyeing" the grocery boys, to the beginnings of ACT UP more than one hundred years later, the gay and lesbian community in Philadelphia has never lost its flair for the dramatic.
Gay and Lesbian Philadelphia is a historical look at the neighborhoods, events, and people that have been a part of this community. The 1920s saw the birth of private dance bars on Rittenhouse Square. It was a time when drag shows in straight bars were the order of the day, as was the presence of men in drag during the annual Mummer's Parade on New Year's Day. The pre-Civil Rights era, when segregation was the status quo, saw the proliferation of African American house parties in neighborhoods such as North Philadelphia, where black gays and lesbians formed a community. During the 1950s and 1960s, Rittenhouse Square was the site of informal public gatherings. These gatherings of friends and strangers helped set the stage for the Annual Reminder, the first public protest in support of "homosexual equal rights," which took place every Fourth of July at Independence Hall. Throughout all of these eras, members of the community faced challenges, celebrated victories, and continued to try to blend their lives with those of their gay and straight neighbors.
A Body on Pine by Joseph R. G. DeMarco
Paperback: 364 pages
Publisher: Lethe Press (April 5, 2011)
Amazon: A Body on Pine
When Marco Fontana enters his friend's spa on Pine, he doesn't find the peaceful retreat he expected. Brad, the masseur, is missing. The spa is splattered with blood and a dead client lies sprawled on the floor. After a thorough search turns up more questions than answers, Marco calls the police. They find Brad's body a short distance from the spa and before long Marco understands that what appears to be a simple case of murder is anything but. The police want Marco off the case. However, when the body of a popular journalist is added to the death toll, Brad's case gets sidelined. Marco refuses to allow his friend's death to be ignored and convinces an overwhelmed young police detective to bring Marco into the hunt for the killer. He finds plenty to keep him busy. Abusive ex-boyfriends, stalker clients, politicians, scheming businessmen, and Eastern European mobsters swirl together in a dangerous mix which finds Marco in some of the most serious trouble he's encountered so Life at home doesn't stop for Marco, either. While he searches for Brad's killer, Marco's stripper troupe, StripGuyz, brings him face to face with a stripper's abusive boyfriend and, with Jean-Claude, a new member of the troupe who innocently comes between Marco and Anton, upsetting the fragile balance existing between them.