The name Strawberry Mansion comes from the large Georgian mansion in adjacent Fairmount Park and features several other historic landmarks including: Historic Strawberry Mansion, Strawberry Mansion Bridge and John Coltrane House, just to name a few. Strawberry Mansion has a rich culture that can be heavily attributed to its heritage and diverse group of inhabitants and continues to grow and progress every day.
In the late 1880s the Strawberry Mansion area developed as a working-class, residential neighborhood. It became well known for its proximity to the park as well as other destinations such as Woodside Amusement Park, the Philadelphia Zoo, Smith Playground, and Shibe Park. Philadelphia residents accessed these attractions by trolley, which connected Strawberry Mansion with West Fairmount Park via the Strawberry Mansion Bridge, built in 1879. Before 1950, Strawberry Mansion was predominantly Jewish.
Within a generation a great cultural shift occurred and virtually all Strawberry Mansion residents would be African Americans as government policies and the lure of the suburbs drained the neighborhood of its mostly well-off Jewish population. Their vacated row homes were sold to working class African Americans who migrated in large numbers from the rural South to seek work in the city’s factories.
In the early-to-mid 20th century, several notable figures lived and worked in Strawberry Mansion, including Larry Fine of the Three Stooges, painter and artist, Henry O Tanner, saxophonist John Coltrane, and educator and diplomat Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett. Strawberry Mansion’s diverse and storied history has led it to become the community it is today and continues to grow both culturally and economically.