Since the late 1880s, Strawberry Mansion has been a residential neighborhood. There are many row homes and people sitting and talking to one another on their front steps. In addition to residential spaces, Strawberry Mansion is home to public places that serve as helpful and beneficial resources for the community.
Mander Recreation Center
The children pictured above played basketball Friday afternoon at the Mander Recreation Center. This facility is mainly outdoors, consisting of a playground, swimming pool, baseball field and basketball courts. The Strawberry Mansion Council of Block Organizations campaigned to have the center named after Joseph E. Mander Sr. when it opened in 1961. On May 4, 1952, Mander died trying to save a 7-year-old boy from drowning in the Schuylkill River. Touched by Mander’s sacrifice, the neighborhood bought Mander’s pregnant wife and three children a house in West Philadelphia.
The Strawberry Mansion Community Garden
Located on 32nd Street and Ridge Avenue, the community garden is where residents meet every Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. Residents sign up for their own plot where they grow and care for their own fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, and spinach. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society gives different types of seeds to the gardeners through EPRA, the East Park Revitalization Alliance. EPRA holds workshops with instructors to show how to can and pickle different vegetables.
Neighborhood Action Center
Near the intersection of 29th and Diamond streets lies an important resource of Strawberry Mansion: the Neighborhood Action Center. The NAC gives students of various ages a safe haven to work on math, coloring, computers and any other work they may need help with. They just concluded their summer lunch program where students could come in Monday through Friday from 12-4 p.m. to use computers, eat a healthy lunch and play in the backyard. Adults can also use the computers and get information on housing, job opportunities, and more.
The Strawberry Mansion Public Playground
Located at 34th and Cumberland streets, children in the community can play on the jungle gym (pictured above) swings and a basketball court.
The library provides the Strawberry Mansion community with a place to learn. Children can participate in summer reading and get homework help and computer assistance after school during The Literacy Enrichment After-school Program (LEAP). Families can also attend Fall Family Storytime every first Wednesday of the month at 10:30 a.m. for stories, songs and crafts. The design of the library is based on the theme of African Plains, with four special areas dedicated to children and teens: Preschool Plains, School-Age Savanna, Pre-teen Plateau, and Teen Terrain. There are also abstract elephants and giraffes hidden in the design. Can you spot them in the photo above?
- Text and images by Noe Garcia and Avory Brookins