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South Philly Kaleidoscope: 9th Street Market Mural

This lesson is part of a suite of lesson plans associated with PhilaPlace, that explores the neighborhoods of Philadelphia.  This unit revolves around the physical and social meeting place of ethnic cultures in an urban setting.  Particularly, the unit discusses the erection of a mural wall located on 9th street in downtown Philadelphia.  The unit explores, through discussion, direct instruction and  the creation of personal wall murals, how different cultures can use a physical space to incorporate different traditions and beliefs to create a new, more singular entity.  At the same time, historical periods are discussed (the Lombard and Kensington Street Riots) that showcase the opposite effect - ethnic tensions building to a climax not of cultural fusion, but of violence.  Overall, this unit and its encompassing lesson ask students to deconstruct the ways we explore our own culture and how we meld it with others.


19th century

Ethnic history


Big Ideas

Historical Context

Pennsylvania History

Essential Questions

How does continuity and change within Pennsylvania history influence your community today?

What role do multiple causations play in describing a historic event?


  • Textual evidence, material artifacts, the built environment, and historic sites are central to understanding the history of Pennsylvania.

  • Comprehension of the experiences of individuals, society, and how past human experience has adapted builds aptitude to apply to civic participation.


  • Analyze the interaction of cultural, economic, geographic, political, and social relations for a specific time and place.

  • Contrast multiple perspectives of individuals and groups in interpreting other times, cultures, and place.

  • Articulate the context of a historical event or action.

Background Material for Teacher

D’Angelo, Sonny. "And Now We Call it Gravy” Recipes and Memoirs of the Italian Market. Copyright © 2000 by Sonny D’Angelo. [self-published]

Golab, Caroline. “The Immigrant and the City: Poles, Italians, and Jews in Philadelphia, 1870-1920.” In The Peoples of Philadelphia: A History of Ethnic Groups and Lower Class Life, 1790-1940. edited by Allen F. Davis and mark H. Haller. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1973.

Juliani, Richard N. “Social Reform through Social Service: The Settlement Movement in South Philadelphia.” Pennsylvania Legacies, vol. 7, no. 2 (November 2007): 22–29.

Juliani, Richard N. Building Little Italy: Philadelphia’s Italians Before Mass Migration. University Park, PA: The Penn State University Press, 1998.

Juliani, Richard N. Priest, Parish, and People: Saving the Faith in Philadelphia's "Little Italy.” Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007.

Luconi, Stefano. From Paesani to White Ethnics: The Italian Experience in Philadelphia. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2001.

Saverino, Joan. “The Ninth Street Market and South Philadelphia: Personal Connections, Particular Views, Past Times, and Embodied Places.” Pennsylvania Legacies, vol 7, no.2 (November 2007): 14-21.

Sitarski, Stephen M. “From Weccacoe to South Philadelphia: The Changing Face of a Neighborhood.” Pennsylvania Legacies, vol. 7, no. 2 (November 2007): 6-13.


Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies. “Italian-American Traditions: Family and Community.” Online exhibition of The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies

Mural Farm

Philadelphia’s 9th Street Italian Market. “About Philadelphia’s 9th Street Italian Market.”

The City of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program

End of Unit Assessment

Students will create their own contribution to the South Philly Mural representing their own cultural ethnicity, beliefs, etc, by using a blank piece of white paper and drawing their own mural.  Their additions must fit the theme of the mural already established.  Ask that they sketch it on one side of the paper, and on the other, write a short paragraph explaining both what the mural is and why they chose to draw it.  In order to receive full credit, student must use examples from other murals they studied during the unit, referencing how they came to create their own and what it might symbolize about their own cultural heritage.




Plans in this Unit

South Philly Kaleidoscope: The 9th Street Market Mural

Grade Level

High School

Standards/Eligible Content







PA Core Standard



PhilaPlace has been designated as a We the People project by the NEH

  • The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, through the Heritage Philadelphia Program

  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services

  • The National Endowment for the Humanities

  • The Connelly Foundation

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education

  • The Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Federal-State Partner of the National Endowment for  the Humanities

  • The Samuel S. Fels Fund

  • The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation

  • The Walter J. Miller Foundation

  • Corporate Sponsor:  Southwest Airlines

About the Author

This lesson was created by Jennifer Coval and revised by Marc Brasof. Updated for SAS by Ethan Fried, Education Intern, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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