The enormous Ninth Street mural of Frank Rizzo is like the Mona Lisa of Philadelphia: that inscrutable expression stares at passersby–many of whom probably don’t even recognize the former mayor’s iconic mug. But what would happen to that face if Rizzo heard the assertion that the Italian Market should be renamed because the Italian population has been superseded by other ethnic groups?
Daily News columnist and newish Philadelphian Helen Ubiñas says that “the name of the market just doesn’t reflect the reality of the street.” She continues:
I mean, have you been on South 9th Street lately?
Bachata music spilling out of Paco Records. Kids playing outside one of the street’s numerous taquerias, switching from English to Spanish to Spanglish.
Signs in all kinds of Asian languages on the window of Hai Tao Hair salon. (Though one of their signs says “Se Habla Español,” too.)
Steps from Ralph’s, touted as the oldest Italian restaurant in the country, there’s New Singlin Chinese Medi-cine, which is near Los Amigos market, where husband-and-wife owners make homemade tamales and chorizo, and Dasani’s, another one-stop-shop market run by a husband and wife from India.
But it doesn’t sound like her idea will gain much traction. When she called Michele Gambino of the Italian Market’s Businessmen’s Association to pitch the idea, she was met with a silence so long, Ubiñas thought Gambino hung up on her. We’re impressed Gambino actually stayed on the line given the pride the Market takes in its history.
Word of warning to the new Philadelphia columnist: Don’t talk about this idea near the Rizzo mural. That thing has some weird mojo.
• Time to rename the Italian Market [philly.com]