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Edward Halpern, 78, 'Mayor of Center City'

May 25, 2006
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Edward Halpern, 78, an activist in Center City politics, died May 11. He was known as the "Mayor of Center City."

Halpern was instrumental in getting laws passed to balance the interests of residents and businesses in Center City.

A homeowner in Center City for more than 40 years, he was a board member and past president of the Center City Residents Association. After selling his home a few years ago, he moved into the Penn Center House and became active on the board at the residence there.

As a young man, Halpern assisted his father, Joseph Halpern, in his business, the J&J Cigar Co.

From 1956 to 1969, Halpern and his wife, Esther, owned and operated the Guilded Cage, a coffeehouse at 21st Street, off Rittenhouse Square. During that time, he helped found the Philadelphia Folk Song Society and remained on its board until his death.

Halpern was a founding member of the Philadelphia Folk Festival and its treasurer for more than 40 years.

After the coffeehouse closed, Halpern became a budget analyst with the Defense Industrial Supply Center in Northeast Philadelphia for many years.

In addition to his wife of 50 years, the former Esther Tabachnick, he is survived by daughter Annie Leonard; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. He was the brother of the late Alan Halpern.

Contributions in his memory can be made to: the Deborah Hospital Foundation, 200 Trenton Road, Browns Mills, N.J. 08015; or the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, 2100 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19103.

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