Death of the China Factory. China Street Now Alter Street

China Street in Southwark became South Phila.’s Alter Street in 1897.  It was the site of a dish (china) factory that became a cannon foundry through the War of Independence. After that it was the largest, most notorious  whorehouse around. The surrounding citizens could get no help from the constables in dealing with the lewd and boisterous behavior. In the early 19th Century when a workman was killed outside Southwarkers, as they would, then and now, took matters into their own hands. “The China Factory” was demolished in two days, burnt it to the ground.

Though not a “vacant” lot now it is flat. I’d wager it’s been that way since the neighbors flattened it.

Alter St Arrow T

The book Wicked Philadelphia by Thomas H. Keels has the story.

Such street name details can be checked in PhillyHistory.org‘s street name index here. For instance, German Street became Fitzwater, also in 1897.

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