On August 28, 1964, the Columbia Ave Riot began in North Philadelphia. The riot began when a police scuffle with African Americans occurred at the busy insection of Twenty-Second Street and Columbia Avenue. The riot lasted for three days with North Philadelphians throwing bricks and bottles at the police and vandalizing stores. Philadelphia was just one of six cities that erupted in African American protest during July and August of 1964.
At 9:20 on August 28th, two Philadelphia police officers ordered a married couple to move their car from the intersection at Twenty-Second and Columbia Avenue. Word spread fast that a police officer had beaten and possibly killed a pregnant African American woman. Rioting spread through an area of North Philadelphia that the local press and the police establishment since the mid-1950s had designated “the Jungle” for its entrenched poverty and high crime rates.
After rumors traveled about the young black pregnant woman being killed, young men and women ran along the street of Columbia Avenue, breaking windows, looting stores and destroying anything owned by whites on the street.
The majority of the businesses were owned by Jewish merchants who sold groceries, appliances, and furniture. One group tossed a garbage can through a squad car window and some people pulled prisoners out of police wagons.
By the second night of rioting, over 1,800 police officers were called in to bring calm to the city. A curfew was imposed by Mayor James H.J. Tate, and by Monday morning the riot was over. Hundreds of protestors had been arrested and injured, and two lost their lives. Damages totaled around $3.2 million.
Many local businesses never recovered from the August 1964 uprising. Although the flight of white residents and industrial jobs played a greater role in long-term neighborhood decline.