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.

QVNA Welcomes New Board Members

The QVNA Board is made up of five officers of the executive committee and eight at large members, all of whom serve two-year terms. QVNA received nominations for the same number of candidates as open seats this year, so QVNA will not host official elections, but is glad to welcome the following new Board members for the 2018 election cycle. 

Executive Committee

Eleanor Ingersoll, President

I am currently completing my term as acting President after my predecessor stepped down, moving to another neighborhood.

I was appointed to the Board in the Spring of 2014 to fill finish a term for an exciting Member. After being elected to the Board in November that same year, I began my work as Chair of the Schools and Youth Committee in earnest. Not only does the committee support both Nebinger & Meredith schools, but also Shot Tower Rec Center and Weccacoe Playground. For three years, S&Y has also worked to support the summer enrichment program act Courtyard, as well as it’s after school programming.

As President, I plan to continue these works as well as streamline the Website, dispatch a survey to the entire neighborhood to determine priorities and goals for the Board. And, of course, keep accurate and regularly spotted hours at the Weccacoe playground Community Room.

My husband, Scott Koruba, and I have lived in Queen Village for almost 19 years. We have three children who do and have attended Meredith Elementary, where I served on the Auction Committee and lead the School Advisory Council.

Melissa Donnelly, Vice President

I am currently completing my first term as a member of the QVNA Board.

I started as a volunteer with QVNA 6 years ago when I moved to Philadelphia and wanted to be involved with neighborhood initiatives to beautify the streets and sidewalks we all share.  As a Board member, I serve as the Chair of the Quality of Life Committee focused on cleaning and greening our neighborhood. We hosted the first QVNA Community Garden Party this past Spring to raise nearly $1,300 to support these efforts. We also completed the first neighborhood-wide leaf cleanup last Fall.

Professionally, I lead sustainability integration at Campbell Soup Company focused on resource conservation. I strive to be an active member of the communities in which I work and live. Working in Camden, NJ, there are many opportunities to make positive impacts on the local community. I initiated an employee volunteer program with the Camden Aquarium to do monthly cleanups on the Delaware River shoreline removing hundreds of pounds of trash.

I have demonstrated hard work and dedication as a volunteer for community initiatives in QV and as a board member with QVNA. As Executive Vice President, I plan to improve street cleaning, develop programming for tree pit maintenance, and complete a comprehensive tree inventory that will allow us to manage QV’s tree population to remove dead trees, keep new trees alive and thriving, and perform tree maintenance like pruning and trimming. I would love for us all to share a neighborhood that is full of healthy trees, trash-free sidewalks, and well-cared-for tree pits free of weeds and filled with flowers.

Jordan Schwartz, Vice President

I am currently completing my term as Executive Vice President after my predecessor stepped into the role of President.

This winter will mark my 11th year in Queen Village. In those years, I have enjoyed our public spaces, made our businesses part of my routine, and built friendships and professional relationships along the way. In short, I’ve gotten a lot from our neighborhood. For the last year, being a member of the QVNA Board has been a chance to give back to Queen Village.  This year, I am honored to deepen my commitment to our community by serving as Vice President of QVNA.

What makes Queen Village special is our community’s capacity to grow and adapt without compromising our historic appeal and civic character. Having worked with community organizations across the city – both inside City government and in the private sector – I know maintaining that balance in the face of competing pressures is hard work. It takes the commitment of an active, diverse and creative civic association, like QVNA, to act together to move neighborhood priorities forward. I like being a part of that challenge.

I aim to continue to apply my experience as both a neighbor and a lifelong Philadelphian.  I hope I can help us meet the demands of our complex, growing neighborhood, while looking to build new partnerships beyond our borders to support our goals and contribute to our city’s success.

Jeff Hornstein, Secretary

I am currently completing my term as Secretary.

I have been active in QVNA since 2008, having served on the Zoning Committee and on the Board of Directors.  I was president of QVNA from 2012-2016, and currently serves as secretary.  During my tenure as President, QVNA doubled the size of the community parking lot, creating a solid financial base for the organization, which has become a neighborhood-level philanthropy supporting schools, parks, and other worthy projects.

I am also chair of the Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition, a citywide organization representing nearly 30 civic associations.  I helped convene the Friends of Neighborhood Education, a citywide network of community groups that support neighborhood public schools, and was a co-founder of the Philadelphia Public School Giving Circle, a donor-advised fund that provides small grants to disadvantaged neighborhood schools.

By day, I am Director of Financial & Policy Analysis for the Philadelphia City Controller, working on issues relating to Philadelphia’s fiscal and economic health.  Since 2005 I have lived with my wife, Pamela Barnett, on the 300 block of Queen Street.

Justin Fishman, Treasurer

I currently completing my first term as a member of the QVNA board.

I have been an active Board member of QVNA since I was elected in November 2015.  My wife and I have lived in Queen Village for 5 years, currently on the 700 block of S. 2nd Street.  We truly love the neighborhood and have made it our permanent home.  We have twin daughters, Olivia and Isabella (5), and a son Jonah (2).  I was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Montgomery County with deep family roots throughout Northeast Philadelphia.  My great grandfather even lived in a basement on 2nd and Bainbridge before moving the family to Oxford Circle.

I am a commissioned Naval Officer in an expeditionary reserve battalion based in Lakehurst, NJ.  I have a finance degree from the George Washington University and an MBA from the University of Michigan.  In my civilian career, I am a First Vice President at Stifel Financial Corporation.

For the past three summers, I have been actively involved in Queen Village’s “Summer at Courtyard” program, providing a tremendous opportunity for children from the Courtyard apartments and beyond to attend a sponsored summer camp.  I focused on the athletics and as well as connecting with local professional teams including a visit to Lincoln Financial Field and a Phillies Game.   I am honored to serve as the treasurer on the QVNA board and represent this vital community.

At-Large Board Members

Dahvia Dalton

My name is Dahvia Dalton and I’ve lived in both Philadelphia and Queen Village for over 10 years. As a homeowner on the 500 block of Carpenter for eighteen months, I’ve watched the neighborhood progress and am excited to be a part of that change. I am running for a position on the QVNA Board.

As a native of New Orleans, I was thrilled to feel instantly at home in Philadelphia. I felt inspired to get more involved in the community and I’ve done that by volunteering with QVNA, PAWS, Weavers Way, and West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WEPAC). I also serve on the Parent Association and Auction Committee at Friends Select School, where my son Beckett is in first grade. My background is in television production; but after becoming a mom, I followed my passion for health and wellness and became a Yoga teacher. I am honored to work with various members of the community from children to pregnant women to the elderly. I also organize and teach wellness workshops for Diversified Community Services, which serves low income community centers in Philadelphia.

My desire to be a positive influence in the community by keeping our streets safe and clean is what drives me to run for the QVNA Board. I look forward to the opportunity to serve.

Mark Grabarits

I am a proud resident of Queen village who resides on the 900 block of S. 2nd St. with my wife, Alicia. Alicia, a native of Philadelphia, and I have been residents of Queen Village for the past five years.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Business Administration from Lehigh University and a Juris Doctor from Widener University-Delaware Law School.  Currently, I am employed as Vice President, Corporate Counsel for a private investment firm and have experience in the banking, real estate, and food manufacturing and distribution sectors. Prior to that, I served as Corporate Counsel for an educational consulting company. I also previously served in several volunteer organizations including as a board member and officer.

I hope to bring my professional and practical experiences to the QVNA Board and help it continue fulfilling its mission statement: providing a safe forum for public discussion; supporting improvements to our neighborhood; facilitating understanding of the available public services; and arranging opportunities for residents to communicate with city officials and our elected representatives. Most importantly, I want to support QVNA as it continues to serve and unite the community, making this the best place to live.

Inez Green

My name is Inez “Kandi” Green and I am beginning my second term as an At Large Member. I have been a Queen Village resident for 30 years. For 22 of those years I served on the Board of Directors of Southwark Development Corporation (SDC), which is now Courtyard Residents Council, from Board member to Secretary, Vice President, and now to my current role as Council President. My responsibilities there are much the same for my service on the QVNA Board: to advocate for and provide resources to Courtyard residents. This helps the surrounding community become more self-sufficient and builds community relationships to improve the quality of life for everyone.

I worked very closely to coordinate and mentor the Summer at Courtyard enrichment program in partnership with QVNA. It was truly a wonderful experience. I am excited now to look ahead to other programs such as after-school, GED, adult literacy and computer literacy.

My vision is to build a strong community of solid partnerships that can be an example to other communities; how being unified can better the quality of life for all neighborhood residents. As a member of the QVNA Board, I will continue to work and grow the partnership we’ve started and strive to be an inspiration for positive change and a positive community.

Latasha McKnight

My name is Latasha McKnight, I am excited to serve as an At Large Member on the Board of the Queen Village Neighbors Association.

I am a lifelong Queen Village resident. My daughter is a student at Nebinger Elementary, where I went to school. It is because of her, and my love of kids, that I got involved in volunteering at the Courtyard’s after school program, before its partnership with QVNA. When that partnership launched the Summer at Courtyard Enrichment Program, I was a volunteer from day one.  If I can reach them, I will teach them and show them love and respect.

I look forward to learning and helping to form new partnerships for our entire community and all of its children.

Emily Perschetz

My name is Emily Perschetz and I’ve lived in Queen Village for almost ten years. I love it here. I lived here first as a renter and now as a homeowner with my husband, two (loud) toddlers, and two dogs. I don’t plan to live anywhere else, so I want Queen Village to be the best it can be. I think it’s close, but we’re not there yet.

I’ve been an active member of my neighborhood community groups in the historic, mixed-use, waterfront neighborhoods in the previous cities in which I’ve lived (I guess I have a type), and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves here. I chose my block because it’s so close to South Street, not in spite of that fact. I think QVNA can and should do more to actively engage with our northern neighborhood border and the South Street Headhouse District, both as an advocate for residents and as a good neighbor.

I hope to work with the board to find new ways to engage with neighbors, and to encourage more people to be active participants in our community!


Thinking about advertising in QVNA Magazine next year?

Here are 5 reasons you should!

You advertise in a magazine that’s been honored nationally!
The QVNA Magazine received 2nd Place in the 2017 Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) Newsletter Competition, an award that acknowledges excellence in neighborhood newsletters. Submissions are evaluated on branding, aesthetics & design, technical layout, content/information, and outreach & involvement. The magazine was also honored in 2016.

You can get copies easily!
We recently repurposed three abandoned newspaper boxes to serve as additional collection points for readers of QVNA Magazine.  The boxes are located near Philly AIDS Thrift (5th and Bainbridge), Philadelphia Java Company (2nd and Christian), and on the east side of 4th Street, just north of Washington. At all three locations, recent issues are available as long as supplies last.

You join a thriving publication!
Since we began production in September 2014, the magazine has grown from 16 pages to 32 or 36 pages of content per issue.  Thanks to your support, our publication continues to grow allowing us to build our stable of writers and bring even more wonderful stories to our readers with every issue.

You can choose from a variety of ad sizes!
Since we launched in 2014, we’ve offered full pages, 1/2 pages, 1/3 pages, and business cards.  And now we’re excited to announce that we will be offering a 2/3 Page Vertical option starting in January.  We’re hoping that this format will appeal to advertisers who have artwork on file sized to this format.  Plus, this gives you the option to get a large space at a very good price!

You can buy space for one issue only, or buy all six at once!
We’ve made it super easy to buy ad space.  We now have an online store at Square that accepts all major credit cards.  The store is fully stocked — you can purchase more than one ad space at a time or the the entire year at once if you desire.  We still accept checks too, if that is your preference.

Interested?  For information on our due dates, rates, and policies, download a copy of our 2018 Rate Kit.  Don’t delay.  Our ad spaces usually sell out!

Learn More

Cast Your Vote for Nebinger’s Leslie Grace for Philadelphia Magazine’s Best Teacher Award

Philadelphia magazine called for nominations for outstanding teachers in the Greater Philadelphia area that go above and beyond their job descriptions. With the overwhelming amount of submissions received, the editors have narrowed them down to the Top 5 and Nebinger’s very own Leslie Grace has made the list!

Ms. Grace has been teaching for 13 years, and in that time she has had the opportunity to collaborate, learn from, and benefit from her dedication to her students and commitment to art education in the city of Philadelphia. Ms. Grace has built an entire art department at her current school from the ground up and raised over $20,000 for her students and school.

Click here to cast your vote for Philadelphia magazine’s Best Teacher Award. The grand prize winner’s school will receive $5,000 and a book donation, courtesy of Subaru of America.

Personal Memories of Fabric Row and South Fourth Street [Video]

On April 20, 2017, the Historic Gloria Dei Preservation Corporation and Queen Village Neighbors Association hosted a panel discussion called “Personal Memories of Fabric Row.” The event featured the following long-timers who lived and worked in “The Jewish Quarter:”

  • David Auspitz, former owner of Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen and Famous Fourth Street Cookie Company and former chairman of the Philadelphia Zoning Board.
  • Harry D. Boonin, author of several books, including the well-received “Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia: A History & Guide 1881-1930.”
  • Joel Spivak, architect, artist, community activist, former owner of Rocketships & Accessories and originator of Philadelphia’s National Hot Dog Month celebration.
  • Marge Schernecke, 5th-generation neighborhood resident who worked on South Street, shopped here, was an activist, QVNA president, editor, and much more.

During the event, the panelist talked about the people, peddlers and pushcart owners who lived and worked on Fabric Row … and made this area a unique and marvelous experience.

The event took place at 7:30 pm at Riverside Hall at Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church.

Nebinger Elementary Schoolyard Improvements

Dear Neighbors:

Six years ago a plan was presented to then principal Dr. Burnley to renovate Nebinger’s schoolyard.  We are excited to announce that the project has made it through the design phase and will be moving into construction this week.

In partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, The Trust for Public Land will begin construction to improve the Nebinger schoolyard. The Trust for Public Land will manage the construction project through to completion.  Here are some project details:

  • The Trust for Public Land anticipates that construction will begin the week of May 8th. Contractor working hours are weekdays from 7:00 to 3:30 unless otherwise approved. Upon site closure, access will be restricted to the construction company and its subcontractors, the Trust for Public Land and its consultants.
  • The timeline for active construction of the project is approximately 4-6 weeks however additional time is required for the legal transfer of the site back to the School District The site will remain closed to the Nebinger community until the property transfers.
  • Construction access to the project areas/schoolyard will be through the school’s parking lot gate. The Trust for Public Land anticipates little or no extended impact on street or lot parking or on traffic.
  • The project includes minor demolition of asphalt for the installation of playground equipment, site furnishings and playground safety surfacing. The contractor anticipates the use of a small skid steer for demolition and necessary installations.  TPL anticipates the demolition will be complete in less than one week.  There will be approximately 3 to 4 days when large trucks will deliver play equipment and concrete.
  • One of the goals of all Trust for Public Land projects is that the improved space be available to the public during the some period of non-school hours, such as evenings, weekends, and/or summer. The Trust for Public Land will be working with the school and the community group, Friends of Nebinger, to bring together a meeting of neighbors and community to discuss public access to the schoolyard.

In a short time, our neighborhood school will have a safe, healthy, and more fun place for the children, and our community will have a completed project that make our corner of the world more beautiful.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Gretchen Trefny, Program Manager at or Friends of Nebinger at

Spring 2017 QVNA Community Grant Cycle Open

The QVNA Board is pleased to announce the Spring cycle of our Community Grant Program that enables residents of Queen Village to execute projects that will improve the quality of life in our neighborhood.
Who is eligible:  All established groups in Queen Village (QVNA committees, “Friends of” groups, garden groups, parks, schools, etc.) as well as newly forming groups, or committees.
What can get funded? QVNA will accept grant requests for projects starting at $500. The range of projects can include greening, sustainability, historic preservation, beautification, safety, schools/education, health—any project that affects quality of life issues for residents of Queen Village will be considered.
Timeframe:  Please submit your requests to between May 1 and May 18 (this is a firm deadline). Applications will be reviewed by the Grants Committee through the end of May. Additional information will be solicited as needed during the evaluation process. The Committee will make funding recommendations to the Board at the June 1 meeting. Those selected for grants will be notified by email following the meeting and acknowledged publicly at the June 15 end-of-year social event to be held at Weccacoe Playground.
Please note that funding will be allocated as a reimbursement or direct payment for items. QVNA will not give money for DonorsChoose projects if they have funding by the time grant recipients are announced.
In the past, QVNA grants have helped to fund projects like the Fulton Street Mural, a joint quality of life signage project with Paradigm Gallery and local street artist Kid Hazo, scholastic endeavors at Meredith and Nebinger Elementary, as well as improvements Southwark Queen Village Community Garden, Mario Lanza Park, Bodine Street Community Garden, Friends of Shot Tower and others.