Cities surprise us with the stories that hide in plain sight — on street corners, in shops and parks, and along our daily travels. In Philadelphia, the particular paths we travel often define our experiences of this teeming, multilingual city.
SEPTA’s Route 47 is the crosstown bus line that connects many of the city’s Latino communities. Taking people between their homes and the places where they learn, work, find joy, and find love, the transit line serves as a lifeblood for neighborhoods shaped by a growing population of Spanish-speaking Philadelphians.
The 10-mile route begins in South Philadelphia’s Whitman Plaza. As the bus passes through rowhouse-lined streets and approaches the Ninth Street Market, Mexican and Central American businesses are everywhere, from taquerias and mercados to the shops that help keep cultural traditions alive.
The bus route travels north into Center City through Chinatown and Northern Liberties before it hits Lehigh Avenue.
Lined with metal palm trees, the bus cuts through North Philly’s Bloque de Oro, the commercial and cultural district defined by the vibrant Puerto Rican and Caribbean Latino communities who live in the area.
The bus continues to head north, towards Hunting Park, home to community organizations like Esperanza and Concilio, the oldest Latino organizations in Philadelphia. The 47 continues onward, passing through Logan and Olney, ultimately finishing its route on Godfrey Avenue.
The 47: Historias along a bus route will center the people who live and work along the line — and share intimate stories about who they are, what matters to them and how they are shaping Philadelphia.
Each story in the project will be available in English, Spanish and as a bilingual narrative, a mix of the two languages that reflects how so many Philadelphia Latinos — whether immigrant or American-born — experience the world. A bilingual audio story will air on WHYY and accompany each article.
One city. One bus. 10 miles connecting many comunidades.
This project is a collaboration between WHYY’s PlanPhilly and two independent journalists, Emma Restrepo and Jane Von Bergen.