How Philly Neighborhoods Killed the Crosstown Expressway [Video]

A diverse group of neighborhood activists in the late ’60s and early ’70s stopped the Crosstown Expressway in its tracks and kept the South Street area from being destroyed by an 8-lane, block-wide depressed highway.

The free panel discussion took place at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 19 at Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church’s Sanctuary, Columbus Blvd. and Christian St. It was co-sponsored by Queen Village Neighbors Association and the Historic Gloria Dei Preservation Corporation (HGDPC).

The panel included these veterans of the Crosstown Expressway fight:

  • Paul Levy, founding CEO of the extremely successful Center City District and author of “Queen Village: The Eclipse of a Community.”
  • Marge Schernecke, a community organizer and leader in Queen Village whose family has lived in the area for five generations.
  • David Auspitz, former owner of Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen and Famous Fourth Street Cookie Company, and former chairman of the Philadelphia Zoning Board.
  • Rick Snyderman, co-founder of The Works Gallery, and a key player in organizing the “South Street Renaissance.”
  • John Coates, former housing development leader and Executive Director for SCPAC, a coalition of river-to-river community groups.
  • Conrad Weiler, former national activist preventing displacement in gentrifying neighborhoods and Temple University political science faculty member since 1968.
  •  Joel Spivak, architect, artist, former owner of Rocketships & Accessories and originator of Philadelphia’s National Hot Dog Month Celebration.

The panelists described the strategies and tactics they used to fight City Hall, derail the ill-fated Crosstown Expressway and help keep nearby neighborhoods intact.

Written by Amy Grant

Amy Grant is a graphic designer and web developer. She is the founder of the Southwark Historical Society, a volunteer based group that studies the Southwark Historical District located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.