Boxer’s Trail GatewayPhiladelphia, PA, United States

Discover Strawberry Mansion: Neighborhood and East Park Walking Tour

By Fairmount Park Conservancy (other events)

6 Dates Through Apr 06, 2024

Join the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Judith Robinson for a 2.5-mile walking tour to learn about the past, present, and future of Strawberry Mansion and nearby East Park.

Strawberry Mansion has always had a close connection to the park. In fact, the neighborhood is named after a prominent place in the park, Historic Strawberry Mansion. Similar to Parkside on the other side of the Schuylkill, Strawberry Manson is where the city grid meets the greenspace, buffered by a boulevard of grand homes and apartment buildings facing the park. It’s a neighborhood that has lived many lives through the years, from its beginnings as an 18th-century rural retreat, to its 19th-century industrial boom with a proliferation of factories and rowhouses, to the 20th-century that experienced a demographic shift from a primarily Jewish enclave to an established African-American community. Judith will highlight the neighborhood's history as a hub of cultural activity -- the home to artists such as Henry Ossawa Tanner and Dox Thrash, musicians such as John Coltrane and Meek Mill, and community groups such as Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, the horse riders who inspired the hit movie Concrete Cowboy.

The tour begins with the colonial homes that first defined the area and then visits a variety of important park sites such as Woodford Mansion, the Medicine Man statue, the old concession stand, and the recently installed horseshoe pits. Next, Judith will lead us down 33rd Street, East Park’s parkside promenade to see B’nai Jeshuran synagogue/Cornerstone Baptist Church, Mander Recreation Center, and the John Coltrane house. The tour will end at a relatively new addition to the park and neighborhood, The Discovery Center at the Strawberry Mansion Reservoir.

NEW FOR APRIL 6! We are excited to announce that drummer Robert Kenyatta will be joining us for the walking tour on April 6. Robert Kenyatta was among a group of African Drummers practicing at the Church of the Advocate when John Coltrane came and asked if he could play with them.  The drummers shared their knowledge of basic rhythms that Coltrane used as a basis for the compositions he created in the last year of his life.  Mr. Kenyatta joined Coltrane on stage at Temple University for his last Philadelphia performance.  

Estimated distance: about 2.5 miles
Level: easy to moderate
Terrain: mainly flat sidewalks/trails

INSTRUCTOR BIO: Judith Robinson is a longtime resident, historic preservationist, and real estate broker with years of experience as a community advocate and educator. She is a researcher and docent at the Historic Church of the Advocate and is the director of the Strawberry Mansion Civic Association. In 2021, Judith helped form the Friends of The Henry O. Tanner House, an all-volunteer group of local African-American preservation advocates who are spearheading efforts to save the North Philadelphia rowhouse of this significant American painter.


-Appropriate for adults and families with children ages 12 & up. Minors must be registered and accompanied by an adult.
-Please wear comfortable shoes.
-Please dress according to weather conditions.
-Please bring your own water and snacks (drinking water is not available in the park).
-Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome; however, you will not be able to enter buildings.
-Unfortunately, there are no bathrooms available on the hike route so please plan accordingly.

PARKING/GETTING THERE: There is plenty of free parking available in the park. As always, never leave valuables in your car! If traveling by public transit, the closest station is at 33rd and Dauphin. The nearest Indego bike station is also at 33rd and Dauphin.

INCLEMENT WEATHER POLICY: This event will take place in light rain. In the event of heavy rain or other severe conditions, the event will be canceled and attendees are eligible for a full refund.

QUESTIONS?: Feel free to reach out to [email protected].

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