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Lawncrest: The home of Northeast Philly’s favorite fireworks, the Family Circus and the OG orphan Annie

It’s all about the neighborhoods here in Philadelphia, and Billy Penn will take a deep dive into many of them with these “postcards” throughout the year. We’ll go over their history, their demographics, community centers and their neighborhood legends — and the most Instagrammable spots. Love Lawncrest? Buy the stuff. 

Lawncrest is one of the largest communities of the Northeast. Once rural, it became a popular spot for raising families post-World War II. It’s always been known for those family-friendly qualities, so much so that the creator of the “Family Circus” comic strip grew up here. Most recently, Lawncrest has been trying to maintain its long-lasting traditions while turning into one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city.

Boundaries

Lawncrest is bordered by Tookany Creek Park to the west and southwest, Tacony Creek Park to the south, Castor Avenue to the east, Oxford Avenue to the northeast and Cottman Avenue to the northeast.

Population

26,932

Population 20-to-34

5,650 (21 percent)

Racial composition

Rent vs. own

3,849 vs. 5,199

Median home value

$90,673 according to Zillow

Name origin

Lawncrest is the combination of two smaller neighborhoods: Lawndale and Crescentville. Crescentville comes from an old 19th century rope factory. Lawndale got its name from a developer.

History

Like much of the Northeast, Lawncrest started off the 20th century as primarily farmland. It started booming after World War II. From then until now, Lawncrest’s population has largely been on the upswing, sometimes to the chagrin of longtime residents. Many have complained of a rise in crime that police have traced to people moving in from North Philadelphia. A couple of drug-related murders in 2014 scared them in particular.

Amid some of this tension, Lawncrest has become one of Philadelphia’s most diverse neighborhoods, sporting large populations of white, black, Hispanic and Asian people.

Legendary Event

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Lawncrest’s Fourth of July Celebration. It has been a Northeast staple and attracts people from throughout Philadelphia. In recent years, it faced some financial difficulties, but the trademark parade and fireworks show are scheduled for this Saturday.

#lawncrest #lawncrestrec #fireworks #july4th #4thofjuly #rec #philly

A video posted by ?Her Curves? (@cocaine_skin) on

The event will also feature a flea market that opens at 8 a.m. and lasts all day, a food court and a car show. The parade starts at 9 a.m. and the fireworks start at dusk. Check out the full schedule here.

Alumni

Bil Keane: Is the famous cartoon strip “Family Circus” based on family life in Lawncrest? Maybe. Keane, the strip’s author, grew up in Lawncrest and attended St. William School and then Northeast Catholic. His water-color self-portrait, as well as other paintings, hang in the school, according to an Inquirer article from 1992.

Andrea McArdle: She played Annie in the original broadway production of “Annie.” 

Backdrop

Lawncrest hasn’t jumped onto the national or even state scene often in its history, but a lucky lottery victory provided an exception. In 1987, 29 staffers at Franklin Elementary School together owned one of two winning state lottery tickets for a $21 million prize. The bounty netted each of them an installment of about $14,000 per year for 26 years. At the time, this was the largest jackpot in the state’s history.

What used to be

The Crest Theater on the 5800 block of Rising Sun Avenue. This theater was once the center of entertainment for the community. It opened in 1937, the year “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” came out, and closed in 1987. At the time The Crest opened, there were more than 150 neighborhood theaters in Philadelphia. It outlasted most of them, with only six remaining after it closed down in the 80s. The block now features a 7-11 and strip mall stores.

Controversy

Lawncrest was holding a community meeting in March with state Rep. Mark Cohen, district attorney Seth Williams and police commissioner Charles Ramsey the same day Williams announced there would be no charges against the police officers who killed Brandon Tate-Brown. Protesters came to the meeting, and a small fight broke out. Ten protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct and this month acquitted of the charge.

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Lawncrest Recreation Center, 6000 Rising Sun Ave.

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