Grays Ferry, also known as Gray’s Ferry, is a neighborhood in South Philadelphia bounded (roughly) by 25th Street on the east, the Schuylkill River on the west, Vare Avenue on the south, and Grays Ferry Avenue on the north. The section of this neighborhood west of 34th Street is also known as The Forgotten Bottom. Grays Ferry shares borders with Southwest Center City to the North, Point Breeze to the East, and Girard Estate to the South. Gray’s Ferry is across from where Mill Creek debouches at about 43rd street. Historically, Grays Ferry was one of the largest enclaves of Irish Americans in the city, and whilst there are still many Irish left, it is now home to a significant African American population.
The area developed near an important crossing of the Schuylkill River. In the 18th century, Gray’s Ferry was the southernmost of three ferries that crossed the Schuylkill River to Philadelphia. The neighborhood’s namesake ferry originally belonged to a Benjamin Chambers in the 17th century. By 1747 George Gray had taken over the ferry, and established the nearby Gray’s Inn and Gray’s Garden, which were popular in the 1790s. The river is now spanned by the Gray’s Ferry Bridge and several rail bridges.