Brewerytown- Philly’s historic Germantown

I used the boundaries of Cecil B Moore and Popular to the north and south and Fairmount Park and N 25th to the west and east.  Brewerytown got its name because of the numerous breweries that were located along the Schuylkill River during the turn of 20th century. Proximity to the river and nearby farmland allowed these establishments to flourish. By the early 20th century Brewerytown was a thriving German settlement. Two world wars and prohibition certainly did a number on the German heritage of Brewerytown but its wasn’t until the 1970s that the neighborhood went down hill. North Philly’s economic depression spread to the district, especially the north and eastern edges. Sadly much of this was along racial lines.

Brewerytown benefitted from the slow revitalization expansion  of the Fairmount neighborhood from the south, although its pretty clear that the southern half of the district witnessed much less deterioration than the northern half.  Brewerytown’s biz district Girard Ave is an attractive in-tact district with a good mix of businesses and restaurants but definitively still gritty. Many of the breweries on the western edge of the district have been renovated into lofts and plenty of good infill as well. Master St is more or less the dividing street between blight and renovation. The contrast is stark juxtaposed with blocks that have new in-fill and others with almost none and plenty of vacant blocks.

Hopefully the renovation of the rest of Brewerytown continues to the northern and the eastern sections of the neighborhood. While this will certainly raise gentrification concerns there is actually a nice array of price points with for-sale options. Rental housing, however, is much more expensive. Hopefully affordable rental housing will be more intentionally built. Brewerytown could also use better bike infrastructure and tree cover, more consistant ADA infrastructure, a complex streetscaping rehaul on Girard, and more neighborhood services and cultural amenities. 
Click here to view my Brewerytown album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Solid density.
* Good diversity especially economic diversity. The median income hovers around the City average of 47K. Mix of all types of incomes although still too much poverty (around 1/3 of households).
* Excellent array of price points of for sale housing. Good array of modest 1-3 bedroom flats and condos selling in the high 100Ks and 200Ks. Modest but well renovated or new construction selling in the 300KS and 400Ks. The top end of the market are large new (or recently renovated) 3 & 4 bedrooms selling in the 500Ks & 600k.
* Quality park and recreation assets esp. with Fairmount park on the neighborhood’s eastern border. Athletic Recreation Square also bring a rec center, pool, playground and Jefferson St. Park a basketball court & playground.
* Culturally a nice array of restaurants, bars, and cafes especially along Girard the district’s primary main street. Also a handful of art galleries and breweries.
* Solid neighborhood amenities including: a bike shops, a pharmacy, several local clothing stores, an ALDI’s supermarket, several hair salons, a butcher shop, a bank.
* A decent 3 of walkable schools within and nearby the district, but generally ranked poor or mediocre.
* Solid modern in-fill architecture particularly good with fitting into the existing urban form.
* Generally very good form including the main biz district along Girard. The vacant lots of the district northern and eastern edge certainly takes away from Brewery town’s overall urban form.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Generally good ADA infrastructure limited ADA current ramps on residential districts.
* Bike infrastructure could be better. District includes one dedicated bike lane running along Fairmount Park and a handful of dedicated bike stations.
* Good array of rental housing but a bit on the expensive side. 1-bedrooms lease in the low-mid $1,000s. 2-bedrooms span the $1,000s topping out around 2K. 3-bedrooms a mix of the mid 1,000s to 2Ks.
* No theaters or museums within Brewerytown  but only about 1.5-2 miles from many options in Logan Square.
* Still a lot of blight and abandonment in the northern half of the district (north of Master’s Street). Amazing how start the change is from one block to another.
* Streetscaping is fine but nothing inspiring. I wish they would invest in a revamped streetscape along Girard.
* Tree cover is not great but not terrible. Certainly much to be desired including only a smattering of trees along Girard. 

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