Memorializing Fairhill

“For the people, by the people.”
Memorializing Fairhill, a collaborative project between Taller Puertorriqueño, the Historical Society of Philadelphia, and artist José Ortiz Pagán, generously supported by the William Penn Foundation, stands as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives. This multidisciplinary effort engaged community historians, architects, neighbors, artists, and activists in meaningful conversations about how to honor and discuss the Puerto Rican community in Fairhill.

The project resulted in two significant works of art, Cartografía de Otro rincón and El Maestro de Dos Mundos, inscribed with the powerful phrase "Aquí Estamos" (here we are). These artworks serve as visual representations of the forces that attracted people to the area, including the textile factories that were central to Fairhill's employment landscape. They also encapsulate the memories of what was lost, symbolized by the Piterre, a sparrow native to Puerto Rico, and express the aspirations of many Puerto Ricans for fair treatment and recognition in both Philadelphia and Puerto Rico.

Memorializing Fairhill is a tribute to the achievements of Puerto Ricans in the area, fostering a sense of belonging, integration, and permanence. The project commemorates the community's history and contributes to the ongoing narrative of resilience and identity. Gratitude is extended to the William Penn Foundation for their invaluable support in bringing this project to life.
Philadelphia saw many Puerto Ricans arrive from the 1940s through the 1970s. The earliest Puerto Rican communities were in the Southwark, Spring Garden, and Northern Liberties neighborhoods. But through the late 60s, most Puerto Ricans moved into the Fairhill neighborhoods. They came as factory workers, tailors, cigar makers, and seamstresses. They raised families and started businesses. They became artists, politicians, religious leaders, teachers, and public advocates. Some came temporarily, and many stayed. They moved to Fairhill because they were displaced from other neighborhoods and came for opportunity and to be near family. The Puerto Rican presence shaped the contemporary story of Philadelphia. They added to its culture and created channels and entities that help Latinos of all nationalities, the LGTBQ community, and people of color feel welcomed in the city. 

Memorializing Fairhill

"Para el pueblo, por el pueblo."
"Memorializing Fairhill", un proyecto de colaboración entre Taller Puertorriqueño, la Sociedad Histórica de Filadelfia y el artista José Ortiz Pagán, generosamente apoyado por la Fundación William Penn, es un testimonio del poder de las iniciativas impulsadas por la comunidad. Este esfuerzo multidisciplinario involucró a historiadores, arquitectos, vecinos, artistas y activistas de la comunidad en conversaciones significativas sobre cómo honrar y discutir sobre la comunidad puertorriqueña en Fairhill.

El proyecto resultó en dos importantes obras de arte, Cartografía de Otro rincón y y El Maestro de Dos Mundos", ambas con la poderosa frase "Aquí Estamos" (Here we are!). Estas obras de arte sirven como representaciones visuales de las fuerzas que atrajeron a la gente al área, incluidas las fábricas textiles que eran fundamentales para el panorama laboral de Fairhill. También resumen los recuerdos de lo que se perdió, simbolizado por el Piterre, un gorrión nativo de Puerto Rico, y expresan las aspiraciones de muchos puertorriqueños de un trato justo y reconocimiento tanto en Filadelfia como en Puerto Rico.

"Memorializing Fairhill" es un homenaje a los logros de los puertorriqueños en la zona, fomentando un sentido de pertenencia, integración y permanencia. El proyecto conmemora la historia de la comunidad y contribuye a la narrativa actual de resiliencia e identidad. Nuestro agradecimiento a la Fundación William Penn por su inestimable apoyo para hacer realidad este proyecto.

Memorializing Fairhill seeks to honor Fairhill’s Puerto Rican Community by centering the Puerto Rican presence geographically and historically. It tells their story by street, avenue, and in symbols. It offers a platform for the community to be heard and seen, for it is “for the people, by the people.”
The common call of the Gray Kingbird is very familiar to natives of Puerto Rico. It sounds very much like its Spanish name “Pitirre”. It starts singing before dawn. It sits on an exposed perch such as a dead branch and catches insects in flight or by gleaning them from leaves.
© 2024 Experience Eastern North