These committees held community functions almost daily. Functions included arts and crafts, vocal groups, day trips, and tutoring sessions. As Police Commissioner, Frank Rizzo gave Mantua community leaders access to local police stations. If a local kid was arrested due to gang-related activities, community leaders would post bail and safely escort these residents home. In return, these activists would work with police to help deter kids from future participation in street life. Although these committees were ultimately trying to keep young residents off the streets, Mantua was one of the most crime-laden neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
Over the course of the decade, six major gangs called the 10.5 block area of Mantua their home. Between 1960 and 1969, Mantua recorded about 10% of total city gang killings. Mantua became one of the worst areas of the 16th precinct, and the Philadelphia Police Department often assigned patrols in Mantua to officers as punishment.
Despite the crime, Wrice's Young Great Society and Jenkins' Mantua Community Planners fought to incorporate urban renewal programs, such as the planting of trees and building of housing units. Mt. Vernon Manor, a collection a apartment buildings, was once such development project.
Andrew Jenkins began an eight-year stint as Deputy Mayor, and in 1988 Herman Wrice formed Mantua Against Drugs (MAD). Wrice led community marches against drugs and put up wanted posters of the drug dealers that operated freely on the corners.
Despite Wrice’s efforts, infighting between community leaders prevented a lot of potential progress. According to Jenkins, “The lowest point of the neighborhood was in the late 80s. The biggest failure of the Mantua Community was the jealousy of the leaders who were not successful; they attacked the leaders that were. They put rumors and stigmas on active leaders – that’s what destroyed the neighborhood.”
In the late-1990s, many of the abandoned lots and buildings were bought, renovated, and put on the market for rent. The neighborhood saw an influx of college students from Drexel University, among other institutions, move into the area in search of affordable housing.
In 2002, Rick Young formed the Mantua Community Improvement Committee (MCIC) in part to collaborate the goals of Mantua residents with the goals of its neighbors and the City of Philadelphia. In addition to working with local institutions, the MCIC also has initiatives in place, such as the Mantua Neighborhood Special Service District, to attract commercial investors and homebuyers to the neighborhood.
Mantua is currently undergoing revitalization, in part to the organizational leadership provided by the MCIC and services provided by the city and university systems.