Tacony marks past, builds toward future


As the 21st an­nu­al Ta­cony His­tory Day ap­proaches, a couple of long­time com­munity lead­ers be­lieve the neigh­bor­hood’s fu­ture can be as good as its past.

Lou Iatarola — an ap­praiser, Re­altor and mem­ber of the His­tor­ic­al So­ci­ety of Ta­cony and Ta­cony Civic As­so­ci­ation’s zon­ing com­mit­tee — is es­pe­cially en­thu­si­ast­ic about the ef­fort to des­ig­nate a por­tion of the neigh­bor­hood as a his­tor­ic dis­trict.

The spe­cif­ic area is a res­id­en­tial one cre­ated by Henry Dis­ston, who foun­ded a com­pany in the early 1870s that be­came the world’s lead­ing man­u­fac­turer of saws. Dis­ston ac­quired al­most 400 acres of land and cre­ated a res­id­en­tial area where his work­ers could af­ford­ably buy or rent a home close to the fact­ory, which was loc­ated along the Delaware River at Un­ruh Av­en­ue.

Neigh­bor­hood folks have been re­cept­ive to out­reach ef­forts about the his­tor­ic des­ig­na­tion. Fif­teen plaques have been placed on homes with­in the Dis­ston Es­tate, list­ing the date of con­struc­tion and name of the per­son for whom the house was built. There’s a wait­ing list for more plaques.

Soon, a pro­fes­sion­al con­sult­ant will be hired to handle the nom­in­a­tion forms in hopes of earn­ing his­tor­ic des­ig­na­tion.

“It will help us carve out a niche we could build on,” Iatarola said. “It will open up the door for ad­di­tion­al fund­ing, es­pe­cially for busi­nesses along the com­mer­cial cor­ridor.”

Tony Nac­car­ato — an en­gin­eer and board mem­ber of the Delaware River City Cor­por­a­tion who handles trans­port­a­tion and traffic is­sues for the Ta­cony Civic As­so­ci­ation — points to ac­tion along the Delaware River.

While private de­velopers have been hes­it­ant to move for­ward be­cause of the weak eco­nomy, the DCCC earli­er this year un­veiled Lard­ner’s Point Park, just south of the Ta­cony-Palmyra Bridge.

Nac­car­ato sees the new park and pending ex­ten­sion of the K&T trail as “game-changers” among res­id­ents.

“Lard­ner’s Point Park has been a big hit,” he said.

Nac­car­ato is also mon­it­or­ing the pro­gress of the vari­ous con­struc­tion pro­jects geared to im­prov­ing ac­cess to and from I-95. Con­vert­ing Prin­ceton Av­en­ue from a mini, one-way speed­way from Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue to State Road to a two-way street with slower mov­ing traffic gets high marks.

For now, the traffic head­ing to the south­bound ramp at State Road and Long­shore Av­en­ue is heavy. Nac­car­ato, Iatarola and oth­ers are look­ing for­ward to the fu­ture open­ing of a south­bound ramp at Cottman Av­en­ue.

“When the whole pro­ject is done, it will be a huge im­prove­ment for the neigh­bor­hood,” Nac­car­ato said.

The open­ing of that heav­ily used south­bound ramp at Long­shore Av­en­ue happened only after the clos­ing of the En­gine 38 fire­house in Feb­ru­ary 2009. More than three and a half years later, con­struc­tion of a new fire­house has not been com­pleted. It’ll be loc­ated at Key­stone Street and Magee Av­en­ue and could open by the end of this year or as late as spring 2013.

Ta­cony can­not make a com­plete turn­around without a flour­ish­ing Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue, which is the neigh­bor­hood’s prime com­mer­cial cor­ridor but also the site of many res­id­ences.

The av­en­ue has its strong points, Iatarola ar­gues. He cites the Free Lib­rary branch and its man­ager, Dav­id Payne; a pop­u­lar facade grant pro­gram; a new dis­trict of­fice that will soon be opened by City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on; and the cleanups, flower plant­ings, designs, busi­ness re­cruit­ment and oth­er ini­ti­at­ives of the Ta­cony Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion’s com­mer­cial cor­ridor pro­gram and its man­ager, Al­ex­an­der Bal­loon.

“Alex is do­ing a heck­uva job. He al­ways has something cook­ing,” Iatarola said.

The neigh­bor­hood will show off its past and present dur­ing Ta­cony His­tory Day, sched­uled for Sat­urday, Sept. 15. It’s co­ordin­ated by the His­tor­ic­al So­ci­ety of Ta­cony, the Ta­cony Civic As­so­ci­ation and the Ta­cony CDC.

The day be­gins with a parade at 11 a.m. The route be­gins at Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue and Heller­man Street and ends at Dis­ston Re­cre­ation Cen­ter.

Rock ’n’ roll le­gend Charlie Gracie will be the grand mar­shal. The parade will fea­ture string bands, vet­er­ans groups, clas­sic fire en­gines and mil­it­ary vehicles, Boy Scouts and youth sports or­gan­iz­a­tions.

The fest­iv­al will run from noon to 4 p.m. There will be live mu­sic­al en­ter­tain­ment by Tommy Con­well and oth­ers, dan­cers, rides, games of chance, giveaways, egg toss and pie eat­ing con­tests, sand art, spin art, face-paint­ing, his­tory ex­hib­its, guided trol­ley tours, food and re­fresh­ments.

“It’s a very well-roun­ded day for every­body,” Iatarola said. “People look for­ward to it.” ••

To make a re­ser­va­tion for a trol­ley tour, to be­come a vo­lun­teer or spon­sor or for more in­form­a­tion, call 215-338-8790.


You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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