Byron Street

Fire started in the former John R. Evans Co. leather factory, a block long factory building at North 2nd and Erie Streets in north camden on a hot summer night, August 23, 1972. Inadequate water pressure, combined with a stiff breeze from the south indicated that there was trouble ahead. The first responding Fire Company, Engine Company 6, sounded the Second Alarm upon arrival. This photo is looking East on Byron Street.

Byron Street was part of North Camden’s literary-themed Poet’s Row neighborhood, first documented in the 1890-1891 Camden City Directory. The streets, christened after illustrious English literary figures, extended east to west from North 2nd Street, northward from Erie Street. Byron Street, leading the way just north of Erie, was the first to be developed, followed by Milton and then Burns Street. Initially, only a few houses were recorded on Burns Street, suggesting a phased development with Byron Street being the earliest.

Employment opportunities were abundant in North Camden during the 1890s, attracting tradesmen and skilled workers who settled in these new homes, some commuting to Philadelphia via nearby ferries. The neighborhood was designed with convenience in mind, including corner stores and traditional brick sidewalks and cobblestone streets.

The area thrived until post-World War II economic shifts led to job losses in North Camden. In a tragic twist, a fire that started in a shut-down factory building one night in 1972 spread rapidly, decimating Milton Street, Burns Street, and the north side of Byron’s 200 block. By the following morning, Milton and Burns Streets were completely destroyed, with only two houses at 241 and 243 Byron Street remaining. The disaster marked the end of Poet’s Row.


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