A Facebook group dedicated to keeping historic Northeast Philadelphia alive has attracted more than 33,400 members worldwide.
When Suzanne Salfi heard the good news, she couldn’t wait to share it with more than 33,400 people online.
“I just wanted to inform you guys & gals that our group will be featured in the Northeast Times next week!!” she wrote in a Facebook post that gathered more than 400 reactions from an online community fascinated by Northeast Philadelphia.
The group name is “Northeast Philly in old photos (1980s and earlier),” and it’s among the very rare forums on the internet that isn’t sullied by constant cynicism and argument through a computer screen.
Instead, it’s a group of history buffs and Philadelphians past and present who ask and answer questions, swap trivia and share photos in a community that’s constantly engaged in positive conversation.
People from all over the world participate — some used to live in the area, and some are just interested in the rich history the area has to offer.
“I love when people go through old shoeboxes and find old letters and photos from grandparents and share their stories,” said Salfi, who moderates the discussion. “That’s what will be forgotten if we don’t try to remember them.”
Salfi inherited administrative duties when the group was at about 10,000 members about two years ago, and has helped it balloon in membership since. Salfi was born and raised in Bensalem and became fascinated with history while growing up in such a historic area.
“Without history you don’t know what’s to come,” she said. “History will always repeat itself.”
The group is a treasure trove of images, anecdotes and nostalgia specific to the area that can’t be found anywhere else.
“Northeast Philly, Morrell Park… hanging out at The Bridge… every night at 7, we would meet on the corner of Morrell Ave and Prince Circle… then we would walk down here and… be up to no good lol. We called this The Bridge, it is between Knights Road and Route 13,” wrote Karen Valentine.
She was reminiscing about growing up in Morrell Park in the 1980s, and spending time with friends she fell out of touch with.
“I had the best of times too as a teenager living in Morrell Park. I remember a lot and miss those times and the people I knew. I really, really do,” she wrote.
Salfi’s in it for two reasons — the camaraderie between members, and the history.
“I love to hear stories you wouldn’t normally ever hear and see the pictures behind the stories and sort of take yourself back,” she said. “My favorite part is stopping for a moment and imagining what life would be like when the story took place.”
“And the friendly banter,” she added with a laugh.
The group is clearly not short on participation, but Salfi encourages everyone to dig through their shoeboxes and see if they could contribute any forgotten treasures to the group.
“I really would love to see more people tell stories and share photos,” she said. ••
The Northeast Times would like to thank everyone who submitted photos.