Throwback Thursday: Businesses of East Falls 80 Years Ago

Empty storefronts are a problem in many growing communities like East Falls — not just vacancies, but also finding the right businesses to ensure lively streetscapes & commerce, while preserving our historic buildings and regional charm.

Was East Falls always so tricky for development? 

midvale up from ridg PM

We might not have answers but in the spirit of Throwback Thursday, here’s a run-down of East Falls businesses from 80+ years ago — at least, those advertising in a 1933 program of Redeemer Lutheran Church‘s romantic comedy “Moon Shy,” performed in Palestine Hall (the Mason/OddFellows building’s 2nd floor theatre). 

1/7/2016 UPDATE:  Speaking of Redeemer…  New Development for this historic church is in the works — read full story featuring stunning interior photos of this beautiful architectural gem at Midvale & Conrad. 

Brownworth PM collage

Odd Fellow’s Hall (love the name!) also once housed Brownworth photography studio, plus a church and halls for Masonic-type rituals & meetings. This corner of Ridge & Midvale still bustles with activity, but was a day not that long ago when shops and services of all kinds peppered our neighborhood streets, up and down the hills:  tailors, beauty salons, delicatessens…

These days, “walkability” is a huge buzzword in community planning: from Baby Boomers to Millennials, home buyers are seeking community-driven spaces, with houses and parks and businesses all mixed in. Sounds a lot like East Falls was, 80 years ago.

(click the images to enlarge, or scroll down to the transcribed text below)

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Know an East Falls Business We Should Feature? Email to sic us on ’em.

Searchable List of East Falls Businesses advertising in the 1933 playbill of Redeemer Lutheran Church’s romantic comedy, “Moon Shy,” performed in Palestine Hall at Ridge & Midvale:

Walter A. Costello
Diamonds – Watches – Jewelry – Sliverware
3343 West Penn Street

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Clayton Brother’s Meats & Groceries
35th (Conrad) and Bowman

Welsh’s Restaurant
4213 Ridge Avenue

East Falls Tailor
Nick Matregano
Cleaning, Pressing, Repairing, Shoe Repair
3654 Midvale Ave

Falls Pharmacy
Ridge & Queen Lane

Quality Shoe Service, two locations:
35th/Conrad and Ainslie Streets
4131 Ridge Ave

Heimlich’s Department Store
4225 Ridge Ave

McDermott & Fitzpatrick
Breyer’s Ice Cream
35th/Conrad & Sunnyside

William Turner
4170 Ridge Ave

McLaren & Leach
Groceries & Delicatessen
35th/Conrad above Indian Queen Lane

Manor Pastry Shop
Bread – Rolls – Pies – Cakes
Tilden Street near Vaux

Wood’s Beauty Shop
3638 Midvale Ave

J. Brown’s Fresh Cut Flowers
3720 Midvale Ave
Greeting Cards

Jim Homeyard
Fruit and Produce
Fish & Oysters in Season

Ridgeway Shoe Repair and Tailoring
Cleaners and Dryers
3728 Midvale Ave

H. Hyde
3481 Tilden Street

George Walker
Quality Coal
Bowman & Cresson Sts

East Falls Lumber Company
Indian Queen Lane &Wiehle St

P.J. Kelly
3903 Ridge Ave

America Hall Garage
3316 North 35th/Conrad Street

Falls Hardware Co.
Ridge & Midvale Aves

Falls Barber Shop
3780 Midvale Ave
Leo Roberts, Prop.

C. & C. Shires
Hair Dressing
4153 Ridge Ave

James T. Fieldler
Prescriptions Compounded
4243 Ridge Ave

MacFadyen and Grady
3751 Midvale Ave

R. Freedman
Surgeon Dentist
Corner of Midvale & Ridge Aves

Althofer’s Electric Shop
Vaux & Ainslie Streets
Appliance repair and wiring of all descriptions

Manor Delicatessen and Grocery
Vaux and Sunnyside Aves

Dr. David Shuman
Osteopathic Physician
3447 Queen Lane

Manor Beauty Shop
Marcel Waving, Facial, Manicuring,
Shampooing. Finger Waving, Eyebrow Arching,
Hennas, Hot Oil Treatments
3517 Indian Queen Lane

Wesley Foster
Plumbing, Heating & Roofing
4259 Ridge Ave

Midvale Fancy Fruit & Produce
All Kinds of Seafood in Season
3722 Midvale Ave

Sownden’s Market
Fine Meats & Provisions
3423 35th/Conrad Street &
5237 Ridge Ave

East Falls Jeweler
Watch, Clock, Optical Repairs
3506 Sunnyside Ave

Manor Tailor Shop
Ladies’ and Gents’
3500 Vaux Street

Maguire & O’Rourke
Meats Noted for Quality
3618 Calumet Street

Ester’s Home Beauty Salon
3787 Midvale Ave

Hemstitiching, Cloth Coat Re-Lining & Repair
4178 Ridge

East Falls Supply Co.
4164 Ridge Ave

Falls Ice Co.
Ridge Ave

Riviera Beauty Box
4251 Ridge Ave

Harry R. Smith
Real Estate, Insurance, Auto Licenses
3733 Midvale Ave

The Gateway Delicatessen
3700 Midvale Ave



  1. I grew up in East Falls (1945-1967) and was thrilled to see this article and read names that I thought I’d forgotten a long time ago. Also, I knew my grandfather had a grocery store but didn’t realize it was called McLaren and Leach. Would love to learn more about the area. Any idea how to research more?

    • Hi Dot: Try the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Great folks and if they don’t have any info, they can point you in the right direction (Philadelphia Archives, Historical Society of PA, etc). Good Luck!

    • Hello Dottie , I was searching this site about vintage East Falls photos when I came across your entry. I’m sure you must remember my Aunt Helen and Uncle George, the Porto’s, on 3406 Vaux. Sadly, my Aunt Helen passed away on November 5, 2019, and was laid to rest on Veterans Day, November 11. Which is so fitting, since Uncle George was in WW2 in the Signal Corps. Long before I was born, the Porto’s moved to to Vaux St in 1951. When I was little , I remember your mom , Gertrude Leach, always asking if I wanted an Oreo cookie , my favorite, and Mr Leach, these were the best times,!

  2. Grew up in East Falls, went to Mifflin, Methodist Church, used many of the businesses there in the 1940’s to 1960’s era. This brings back so many memories of life in a small close knit busy town that was part of the big city.

  3. Grew up in the Falls 1945 to 1964. My Mother and Father both were born and raised in the Fall’s. Mifflin class of June 1959

  4. I also grew up in 1960’s East Falls! Lived on Tilden St. and went to Thomas Mifflin school and Redemer Luthern Church! Walk my dog there still from Roxborough…..and when I am at Warden Dr. and Vaux street I cannot think of a more beautiful section of this city!

  5. My dad and his father and mother grew up in East Falls, on Conrad St.from the 30’s on..House is now a vacant lot on about 3324 was abandoned and became a crack gone..trying to locate some ole is Chidester..’s my dad worked at Buchanan’s Phaarmacy..any help appreciated.thanks

  6. Does anyone remember the Felix and Mary Bernosky family from the 1940’s? My mother Barbara was in elementary school during the early 1940’s.

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