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100 Years on 9th Street: An Assorted History of Philadelphia's Italian Market

  • Humble Beginnings

    Humble Beginnings
    Italian immigrant Anthony Palumbo founded Palbumbo's Restaurant as a boarding house for other Italians coming to Philadelphia to work. At the time, it was the largest boarding house in the area for Italian workers. Eventually is became a favorite restaurant and nightclub beyond the reach of South Philadelphia. Frank Sinatra even performed there!
  • How many pounds of pasta have been consumed in the past 100 years?

    How many pounds of pasta have been consumed in the past 100 years?
    In 1900, Italian immigrants Francesco and Catherine Dispigno opened Ralph's Italian Restaurant, which is still open on 9th Street today! Ralph's is the oldest operating Italian restaurant in the United States. (Photo/Catherine DeMuro)
  • Steaks on Steaks: A Family Tradition

    Steaks on Steaks: A Family Tradition
    Esosito's Meats was founded by Attillo Esposito in 1911 and still provides the extensive top-notch selection of meats that they did 100 years ago. This family-owned business consists of a retail butcher shop and a wholesale department that provides meats to wholesale customers up and down the East Coast, including many of the top dining establishments in Philadelphia.
    Check out Esposito's Facebook page for some wonderful vintage 9th Street photos. (Photo/Catherine DeMuro)
  • Becoming an Outdoor Market

    Becoming an Outdoor Market
    9th Street became an official curb market when eading businessmen of the community, mostly second-generation Italian-Americans, created the South Ninth Street Business Men’s Association. Their mission was to promote commercial development on 9th Street. Curb markets in the United States are characterized by outdoor food vendors, which required approval by the Commonwealth of Philadelphia. This association is still in existence today and strives to keep the market a thriving business community.
  • Oink Oink...

    Oink Oink...
    Cannuli's Quality Meats and Poultry - known to many as the "House of Pork" - was founded by Domenic Cannuli (another Italian immigrant) in 1927. Cannuli's is stll very active in the Italian Market today! As one can assume, they are known for their specialty: whole roasted pigs and many other pork, poutry, and meat products. (Photo/Catherine DeMuro)
  • Are you a "whiz wit" person?

    Are you a "whiz wit" person?
    Whether you go for the "whiz wit" or "American witout" variation, we all know cheesesteaks are a sacred piece of Philly history. While some controversy exists over the details, it's generally accepted that South Philly hot dog vendor Pat Olivieri invented the cheesesteak in 1930. Olivieri later founded Pat's King of Steaks, which is of course still one of the two main cheeseteak rivals in South Philly, competing with Joey Vento's Geno's Steaks right across the street.
  • Rocky Balboa: Hometown Hero, Kind of

    Rocky Balboa: Hometown Hero, Kind of
    In 1976, the Italian Market was seen on movie theater screens worldwide as Sylvester Stallone ran through 9th Street for his famous role as Rocky Balboa in "Rocky." In one apparently unplanned scene, a curb market vendor tosses an orange at Stallone from one of the produce stands that still exists in the market today. 9th Street made an appearance in several "Rocky" sequels as well.
  • Great American Melting Pot

    Great American Melting Pot
    in 1983, the very first Korean-owned establishment was opened at 1000 South 9th Street. This veered from the norm of Italian-owned businesses on 9th Street and opened the door for an influx of Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, and Mexican-run businesses that have developed over the years and made 9th Street the fantastic multi-cultural community it is today. (Photo/Catherine DeMuro)
  • Making it Official

    Making it Official
    On October 12 2007, 9th Street was honored by the Commonwealth of Philadelphia with a Pennsylvania State Historical Marker as the South 9th Street Curb Market at the corner of 9th and Christian Streets.