urban75 blog

Photo tour – a walk from central Philadelphia to Fishtown

I paid Philadelphia a short visit last month, and decided to take a meandering walk from the centre of town out to Fishtown, some four miles or so away to the east.

Leaving central Philadelphia

With a population of 1,526,006, Philadelphia is the largest city in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, and the fifth-most-populous city in the United States.

The city’s population peaked at over 2 million in the 1950s, but declined with the restructuring of industry, while many of the wealthier residents moved out to newer housing in the outlying railroad commuting towns.

There’s still many visible reminders of the decline to be seen as you walk out from the prosperous city centre.

Cycling street art on the side of a house.

Telegraph pole covered in staples from since-removed posters.

Outline of demolished house.

North Front Street, running under the EL (elevated train line).

I was really taken aback to stumble across  the artwork for the cover of Kurt Vile’s ‘Walking On A Pretty Daze‘ – I always assumed that it was a Photoshop job, but it’s painted on to a car lot wall pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

The mural was created by Philadelphia-based street artist Steve Powers and features images and words based on the album’s eleven tracks.

General Marine Refrigeration Corporation premises at 1100 N Front Street.

A third generation family owned business in the field of marine refrigeration and air conditioning, the company was started by former sailor and Chief Engineer, William F. Anderson in 1925.

Abandoned businesses and houses on N Front Street.

Into Fishtown

Fishtown takes its name from from the area’s former role as the centre of the shad fishing industry on the Delaware River.

I’ve never even heard of shad fishing before but I’m informed that it’s an “excellent game fish, showing multiple jumps and an occasional end-over-end; it has been called a “freshwater tarpon”

A less fishy but more interesting (and sadly untrue) local legend attributes the name Fishtown to Charles Dickens, who is said to have visited in March 1842.

Fishtown Community Library at 1217 E Montgomery Ave & Flora St, Philadelphia, a lovely little library much loved by locals.

I Hate Bank Of America says this banner on East Girard Ave, Fishtown.

Old automobile sign.

Looking west along East Girard Ave into central Phildelphia.

Fish sign and American flag.

Old car, Fishtown.

A working class neighbourhood for centuries, many of Fishtown long-time residents trace their ancestry to Irish, German, and Polish Catholic immigrants.

In recent years Fishtown has experienced ‘moderate gentrification’ with the arrival of antique shops, new restaurants and an influx of artists and professionals pushing up house prices, although I’d say it’s still got a long way to go before it turns into Philly’s Williamsburg. []

The fabulously cluttered shopfront of Fishtown Home & Auto Insurance on E Girard Ave.

Painted windows and walls above a shop.

I stopped off for a coffee and snack at the Milkcrate Cafe, where I was served by a friendly young waitress who wanted to be a jazz singer. I hope she’s got some good gigs now!

Inside the store with some great vinyl records on the wall, and 45s under the table glass.

Any place that has Nick Drake, The Jam, the Beatles, Beach Boys, Beefheart and Van Der Graaf Generator on the wall is OK by me!

Walking back into town.

I loved this totally confusing sign!