Pushcarts on Fourth Street, 1914
click to enlarge
photo courtesy of the Philadelphia City Archives

Known in Yiddish as "Der Ferder" (the Fourth), South Fourth Street was a bustling marketplace, a lifeline that ran through the immigrant Jewish community, from Lombard Street to Washington Avenue.  Besides dry goods and fabric businesses, it included dozens of kosher butcher shops, fish stores, and dairy stores, plus hundreds of fruit and vegetable carts and stands.

"Our neighborhood includes ... Fourth Street, Philadelphia's closest approach to New York's lower East Side, where we have the pushcarts, crowded streets and pavements, the open air display of calico, candy, pickles and fish for sale... Ours is an economically but not a morally depressed neighborhood."
1914-15 Annual Report of the Neighborhood Center, the settlement house at 422-28 Bainbridge Street

One of the oldest fabric related businesses still on Fourth Street is Marmelstein's, a home decorating and bridal accessories shop, which began in 1919.

"Actually, [the business] started with just a little suitcase with thread, needles, thimbles... [My parents, Abraham and Dora Marmelstein] had a stand.  They were out in all kinds of weather.  They sold notions and trimming... They lived at 769, 751, 733, then back to 751, then eventually across to here [760].  So all of us have spent our lives on this street."
Selma Marmelstein Buchsbaum,  from an oral history courtesy of The Philadelphia Folklore Project

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