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The Truth About Philadelphia

Cecelia Moy Yep
Executive Director of Chinatown Development Corporation, Chinatown


Question #1: What is your history with the city of Philadelphia? How many years have you lived here? What brought you here?

Glenn: Can I ask you, when you first moved to China Town and I would like to record this response. What were your first impressions as an eight-year old girl walking through the streets of Chinatown?

Cecelia: I didn't like it. I came from a nice neighborhood in North Philly and, umm, we, as I said we were around 17th and Columbia Avenue with all the big brownstone buildings. And we actually lived at 16th and Sydenham which is now total down.. I go up and look at it once in a while. But, umm, we came to Chinatown and it was like hustle, bustle. Uh, it wasn't clean and every corner had a bar and, umm, and you know, just, umm, it was so difficult to get acculturated into that neighborhood. And, umm, I didn't realize how bad it was until I was in high school actually. And, and if you live in Chinatown, you know, they built the Church and school and I went over there and that was really nice. That kind of was the upbringing of the, you know, the upgrading of the whole neighborhood. And so, umm, because it was the only new building in the neighborhood, it was like a diamond in the rough. So we'd go, went to school there, we went over there to play and, and it was fine and it was kind of like a world in itself for me, for us. And umm, when I we....community. It was a collection of fiefdoms, and individual people held control over little parts of the community or ....you know, I thought, oh they're nuts, what do they mean safe, no place safer than Chinatown, you know. I mean we could walk the streets three o'clock in the morning in those days. But umm, then when my children grew up and went to school and I heard this same concept again because my daughter had friends and she was going all over the place but none of the friends would come back. I said how come your girl friends don't come, you know, to dinner or you know, whatever? And they said, oh their mothers won't let them. They think this is a bad neighborhood.

So I thought wow, we have to do something about this. So we started getting rid of the bars and the prostitutes, you know, on the corner. And, you know, we really, you know, started that way before the other, the other urban renewal process started planning to improve the neighborhood.

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