Spring Garden- A Stately District in North Philly

 The Spring Garden district is between Fairmount Ave and Spring Garden St, Fairmount Park and Broad Street. The district goes back to the early 1800s as estates close to Fairmount Park were subdivided up and filled in. The district really took off between 1850 to 1876 and grew to over 60K. The district is still dense but hosts about half this population. Thanks to its extensive history, Spring Garden hosts a diverse array of attractive historic styles including Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, and Venetian Gothic. Most streets contain the classic Philly “terraced” set ups with small gardened plots, often raised, in the front of homes. Most rowhouses are of the denser 3+4 story variety highly conducive to single floor flats.

Spring Garden is only 1 mile from City Hall, the heart of Central City. This gives the district convenient access to the many amenities of Central City (e.g. great museums, culture & night life, job access, park amenities, and even good retail options. Spring Garden also has solid neighborhood retail and restaurant options along Fairmount Ave. and Spring Garden St., many walkable schools, and quality urban form. Because of its convenient access to Central City its not surprising how expensive Spring Garden is. The district has decent racial and income diversity, but poor generational diversity as few families reside here. Other than creating more affordable housing, my hopes for Spring Garden is that it’s eastern border along Broad St. fills in with quality mixed-use development. This would bring more amenities and vibrancy to the district.
Click here to view my Spring Garden album on Flickr


* Excellent multi-model options and very walkable neighborhood. Dwtn less than a mile away.
* Nice park assets with convenient access to Fairmount Park. The Spring Gardens and Clemente Park also provides a diversity of recreational amenities right in the middle of the district.
* Solid tree cover, especially the western half of the district. 
* Maybe a bit gritty along Broad St. but otherwise a very safe district.
* Excellent historic architecture, especially the mid-late 19th century mansions near Fairmount Park.
* Nice array of walkable school options both public and private covering most age groups. Also good access to some quality school options dwtn as well.
* Solid urban form in the biz districts. Good streetscaping on Broad, decent on Fairmount, but uninspiring along Spring Garden.
* Solid cultural amenities when one also includes the amenities within 1 mile walk. Within the district  there are a decent # of restaurants, bars, and cafes especially along Fairmount and Spring Garden. The neighborhood also hosts the Jewish Museum of  Art, the Philadelphia Museum of art and the quirky Keen Collection. One also needs to include the many museums located on the district’s southern border (e.g. Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation, Rodin Museum, Franklin Institute, and much more).
* Good retail amenities. Supermarket’s include a couple local stores, ALDI’s and Wholefoods, several drug stores. Other amenities include:  a hardware store, bookstore, plenty of banks, a bike store, boutiques, and a decent amount of unique stores along Fairmount and a Target only 1/4 mile from the district. 


* Generally good ADA infrastructure but up to date ADA curb ramps are missing at most intersections.
* Majority of residents are young adults and limited family households.
* Median incomes are pretty high but still a decent diversity of incomes.
* For sale housing is pretty expensive but a good amount of moderately priced 1 & 2 bedroom condos selling in the 200Ks, 300Ks & 400Ks. Some 3-bedrooms in the 500Ks & 600ks but plenty more expensive. 4-bedrooms start around 700K and go up into the low 1 Millions.
* While there is a good amount of  rentals they are pretty expensive. 1-bedrooms going in the low to mid $1,000s. 2-bedrooms high $1,000s and low 2Ks. 3 beds in the $2,000s.
* Modern in-fill is pretty limited but some nice contextual historic infill and modern condos near Fairmount Park.

Fairmount- An attractive Philly neighborhood well on the road to recovery

There are several sub-districts in Fairmount. I decided for evaluation purposes, due to size and individual identity, to include Francisville in this eval but to exclude Spring Garden as a separate district. The neighborhood boundaries are therefore Spring Garden to the South, Popular/Girard to the north, Broad to the east, and Pennsylvania Ave. to the west.

Prominent city families established countryseats in Fairmount in the 1700s & 1800s especially along the Schuylkill River. The Eastern State Penitentiary was built further inland in 1829. Development really came in force in the mid-late 19th century with the construction of many rowhouses to support a growing number of factories and breweries in the area. Francisville likely was a separate village established along a stagecoach stop.

Historically  Fairmount was home to working class and middle class families. A divide occurred in the 1960s where the eastern  half of the district (generally east of Corinth), primarily centered on the Francisville sub-district,  fell into disrepair and blight. West of Corinth remained stable. Sadly this was largely along racial lines. South of Fairmount Ave is the Spring Garden district which historically was a high-end district with larger flats. The western half of Fairmount also gentrified first. It is only within the past decade that areas east of Corinth have seen significant investment. Because of the deep distress of the neighborhood, investment is bringing an explosion of in-fill and thankfully of a high urban quality.

Most of the commercial amenities are along Fairmount Ave. Ridge Ave and Broad Ave were historically thriving business districts but are taking longer to recover than near by residential areas. In 5 years I’m confident that Ridge Ave will once again be a thriving biz district resembling Northern Liberties in many ways. Hopefully the same is true for Broad Avenue. That street is just to well built and iconic to remain blighted and underutilized.
Click here to view my Fairmount and Francisville Neighborhood on Flickr


* Great Density, transit access, and overall walkability.
* Fairmount sits only 1-1.5 miles from Downtown.
* Good bike access with a bike lane along Fairmount Ave and Pennsylvania Ave along with several bike stations.
* Very attractive rowhouses with a mix of higher end and worker housing. Very attractive historic commercial bldgs along Broad St.
* Generally West of 22nd Street is most White and east is mostly Black. But the with revitalization, the line is being more blurred. Median income follows very similar lines.
* About 50% of households are family, a high pct for the City.
* Excellent modern in-fill with a high level of urban form closely resembling the form of historic buildings.
* Great access to the main recreational amenities of Fairmount Park, esp. the western half of the neighborhood. Also a nice recreational amenities at Francisville Playground (Rec center, pool, playground, and ballfield). Really no other rec spaces in the district.
* Fairmount, Broad, and Ridge are the main comm. areas but also some businesses mixed into residential areas in the western half of the District.
* Generally good urban in the biz districts but some auto centric dead spots along Broad and Ridge. Hopefully with rapid redevelopment (esp. on Ridge) these wholes will be filled in with good form.
* Good of array of decently rated schools. Lots of private school options. Girard College is basically a boarding school for the underprivileged.
* Solid cultural amenities when one also includes the amenities within 1 mile walk. Within the district  there are a decent # of restaurants, bars, and cafes especially along Fairmount. A couple great live music venues including the Met Philadelphia, and the South jazz club is just south of Fairmount. The district also hosts Eastern State Penitentiary. One also needs to include the many museums located on the neighborhood’s boundaries or within a mile walk (e.g. Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation, Rodin Museum, Franklin Institute, and much more).
* Solid retail amenities esp. when you include stores in adjacent district but walkable. There is an Aldi’s & Whole foods on the neighborhood’s edge and a small grocery within it. Other amenities include: a couple drug stores, a hardware store, bookstore, plenty of banks, and a decent amount of unique stores along Fairmount. Target is 0.5-1 from the district depending were you live. 


* For-sale Housing getting expensive but still a good amount of moderately priced housing existing. 2-3 bedroom rowhouses selling in the 300Ks & 400Ks Larger/newer or more renovated homes selling between 500K-800K.
* Lots of rental options but also pretty expensive. 1-bedrooms leasing around $1,000s and 2-bedrooms in the mid 1,000s-$2,000. Some dedicated rentals mixed in.
* Decent tree cover in the western half of Fairmount not so great around Francisville. Sadly this matched closely race and wealth lines of the two areas.
* Generally a safe community although still some blighted areas and rough patches along the eastern edges of the district.
* Generally good ADA infrastructure but some missing sidewalks (sometimes due to development) in Francisville and not consistent ADA modern ramps, esp. in the res. streets.