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Weekend: Italian Market Philadelphia

italian market philadelphia


about camaraderie. I stopped by the Italian Market in South Philly because, well, above all other labels, I consider myself a street photographer. I’ve always been an observer – as a high schooler, I stayed on the sidelines of the party and watched others. I’m introspective, but in a good way. So, my photographs represent that side of me. With my camera, I observe and document the world around me. So, back to the Italian Market. As I was getting in people’s way, trying to get the right shot, a meat packer standing outside his shop asked me, “You don’t look like you’re from around here. Where are you from?” I snipped, “No, I’m from West Philly. Forty-fifth and Spruce.” His smart remark was, “Ahhh.

Putting aside the minor hullabaloo, that meat packer wasn’t attacking me, he was protecting himself and his neighborhood.Β I could see that there was a bond between South Philadelphians, and I can relate and understand. We live in a global world and because of the Internet, we connect with people in various countries instantaneously. A Benedictine Brother from Lithuania emailed me a couple of weeks ago about making a turtleneck for his robe / scapular. Lithuania! My heavens that’s far! (pun intended).Β This globalization is cool, but also kind of scary, so I understand keeping the world a small place as much as you can. For the meat packer, it was knowing everyone on his block and for me, it’s connecting with the like minded people – sewers. Lauren said that she would elbow a woman for the sake of getting her hands on silk linen and you know what? If I were there, I’d elbow that woman right after her. Twice. Maybe three times. Just like the folks in South Philly, we sewers can get down and dirty. You wouldn’t want to know what kind of fight I’d put up for 4 ply silk. I might be skinny, but I can become pretty mighty in the name of good fabric.



  1. Reply


    I totally understand what you are saying here. I think people still want to define themself and make sure they belong somewhere. Also, caring for people that surround you is such a lovely thing. As long as people are still prepared to open up to others that might be a little further away, I think it is important that – especcially in this time of globalisation – communities are formed in which people take care for each other. (in whatever form they might come – sewing, family, village, schools, church…)
    I love your pictures and this weekend series!

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    Love this post! You nailed it.. home town peeps (especially South Philly) are very territorial and guarded.. your pictures capture that…

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    I have a skinny 7 yr old and I have to constantly watch out for being elbowed unintentionally. Ouch!!! And Intentional elbowing by skinny people – man! I will gladly move out of your way to the silk – 2 ply or 10 ply!!

    That’s so cool about working with people from Lithuania!!! Wow! World is so small.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      That’s exactly what I thought when Brother David contacted me – what a small world!

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    Oh yeah! South Philadelphians are TIGHT! But your absolutely right, communities can exist in all sorts of different ways, and its wonderful that we’ve found ours!

  5. Reply

    lisa g

    great post, and great photos!

  6. Reply

    Latrice Smith

    I want to say all us Philadelphians are that way, but South Philly folks might be tighter. I think it is because most people in S. Philly were born there and as well as their parents, etc. West Philly, CC and parts of N. Philly have a lot more transplants. I am definitely overprotective with my friends. I was thrown off when I moved here (Cali) and NO ONE checks to make sure the other person made it home safely or checks in.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Yes, that’s it! West Philly isn’t as close as South Philly, but there’s definitely a bond between the people here.

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    That is so cool that a monk contacted you! and I love Italian markets, they smell so good!

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    I’ve not been to the Italian Market in well over 10 years and your post has caused me to put a return trip at the top of my “to do” list. Is there still an enormous painting of Frank Rizzo on the side of one of the buildings? My Dad was born at 16th and Catherine. My grandfather first, and then my Dad turned the downstairs into a very popular neighborhood bar named Gormley’s.

    So much history in our beautiful city. In the early part of my childhood, we lived in West Oak Lane, a few doors from an ice cream parlor, Pflaumers. In the mid 50s we made the exodus to the suburbs and landed in Oreland.

    Your photos are just wonderful and truly capture the feeling of the Italian Market. If you ever find that silk linen, I might throw an elbow or two myself!!! Is South Street still the fabric mecca it once was? My grandmother was a dressmaker and got all her fabric on South Street. On a serious note, and without elbows, if you ever do find silk linen, please let me know where. Post hysterectomy it seems I must have natural fibers and nothing else and am greatly dismayed by the plethora of polyester everywhere. Two Philly stores that have been recommended to me are Gaffney’s in Germantown as well as Fabric on 4th but I have not been to either. I miss the wonderful one that used to be in Chestnut Hill. Someday, I am going to go to Mood in NYC!

    Thanks for a view of an area of the city I’ve not seen in a long time. Oh, there is a fabulous restaurant a little north of whatever the Spectrum is currently being called. It’s on Packer or Passyunk, whichever is just a few blocks north on Broad Street. The restaurant is called Medora’s Mecca and is in the basement of a row house. Delicious Food. I hope they are still there.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Whoa, now that’s a lot of questions for one comment! I mean that in the best possible way as I love engaged readers πŸ™‚

      How cool that your dad was born at 16th and Catherine! I know where that is! I’m not sure if the Frank Rizzo painting is still there, but I’ll check it out.

      In my honest opinion, I don’t have much luck finding fabric on 4th street. There was a fire at one of the stores last year and since then, it hasn’t been the same. Call me a bad seamstress but I buy almost all my fabrics at Jomars. Their prices are incredible.

      Thanks for the restaurant recommendations. I’m always up for a new, local spot!

      • Reply


        I hope Medora’s Mecca is still there and if so, it is really worth the drive.

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    Me again. One last question – is there a way to subscribe to your blog via email subscription so new posts would come right to my inbox? Thanks.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Currently, I don’t have email subscriptions unless I manually add you. If you give me your email, I add you to the list.

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