New Audio Tour Highlights Philly’s South Asian American History

Most people associate the Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood with Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, and other white Revolution-era figures. However, a new audio tour highlights the presence of South Asian Americans in this historic neighborhood.

The project was started by the South Asian American Digital Archives (SAADA). SAADA launched the tour as a guided walk through the neighborhood with seven stops starting at the Liberty Bell and ending at the Race Street Pier. Samip Mallik, director and co-founder of SAADA, told WHYY that the tour is based in Old City because “We want to demonstrate that this part of the city — which most people don’t associate with people of color, immigrants, or women — actually have always included those people from the earliest days.”

With the success of the walking tour, the organization has been working on creating downloadable sound files for a self-guided audio tour to be available this fall. The audio tour will not only include the stories of South Asian Americans that are told to participants in the walking tour, but will also feature original music by South Asian American musicians. The musicians each responded to one of the stories included in the tour to create their compositions.

SAADA is hosting a concert of the musicians featured in the audio tour on August 24th. The release date of the full audio tour has yet to be announced.