“Welcome to the center of gold” as the mural reads, or in this case the heart of Philadelphia’s Fairhill section, located at the intersection of 5th Street and Lehigh Avenue.
Fairhill has the highest concentration of Latino residents of any neighborhood in Philadelphia, but it is just one of many Latino hotspots located throughout the city.
At any point during the day, the Center of Gold is guaranteed to be flooded with Latinos of all ages immersing themselves in the Latino food, music and culture authentic to their home countries.
Congreso is a multi-faceted community organization that is focused on strengthening the Latino community by combating poverty. They work on several fronts by providing social, economic, education and health services.
The Congreso headquarters is located in Fairhill at 216 West Somerset Street divided between three specialized buildings. Latinos of all ages filter through these Congreso buildings everyday as they pursue the education and skills to compete in the workforce.
Taller Puertorriqueño has been serving the Latino community of Philadelphia through arts and culture since 1974. Taller lives by its mission that embracing one’s cultural heritage is central to community empowerment.
Jose Aviles, Director of Education, runs after school programs out of Taller’s Education Building located at 2557 N. 5th St.
“We primarily base all of our programming around cultural identity, and how important it is to connect to each other in terms of who we are and where we come from,” Aviles said. “Our whole programs are based around teaching the arts through that particular theme.”
Sazon Restaurant and Café
The aroma of a country a hemisphere away lingers on the corner of Spring Garden and 10th. Sazon Restaurant and Café has been serving traditional home cooked Venezuelan cuisine since 2004. Sazon offers a menu featuring empanadas, arepas, traditional chicken over rice and many other authentic Venezuelan options.
Ayuda Community Center
The Ayuda Community Center has provided a faith-based after-school center for Latino children in the Hunting Park neighborhood since 1922. The center offers a variety of programs to local underprivileged Latino families.
Ayuda is closely affiliated with the Spirit and Truth Fellowship Church, and the two are located three doors apart at the intersection of Marshall and Cayuga Streets. Both share the same goal of providing spiritual guidance through community development, arts, education and advocacy.
Centro Musical is literally filling El Centro de Oro with music. The music shop, located at 464 W. Lehigh Ave., invigorates the neighborhood with Latino music from a speaker sitting outside of their front door.
The shop itself is lined with authentic South and Central American CD’s, cassettes and instruments from wall to wall.
– Text and images by Ross DiMattei and Oscar Castillo