Northern Liberties is one of the nation’s primary examples of urban renewal. Ever since the breweries, leather tanneries and textile mills that made this a 19th century center for manufacturing closed down, the neighborhood just north of Old City had been a wasteland of abandoned factories and ramshackle rowhouses. But something funny happened on the way to the 21st century, and that was the concept of green architecture. Suddenly, progressive and eco-conscious developers were everywhere, turning once forgettable residential structures into mind-bogglingly unique sculptures forging function and design pleasingly enough to compel thousands of new residents to call them “home.”
In the years that followed, NoLibs became a haven for artsy New Yorkers priced out of Brooklyn. They, along with many design-forward Philadelphians, turned the blocks bordered by Girard Avenue, Callowhill Street, N. 6th Street and the Delaware River into the city’s original hipster hangout, full of art galleries, beer bars and tattoos. Many of those hipsters have grown up along with the neighborhood and can now be seen pushing strollers to the brand-new SuperFresh (the neighborhood’s first full-size grocery), vegetarian coffee shops, and European-style pedestrian malls, and younger hipsters have in turn gotten priced out of Northern Liberties. But despite the latest wave of gentrification, make no mistake, Northern Liberties retains its funky edge and still makes for a fun place to stroll and admire the body art.By Tara Nurin
Originally a portion of the Northern Liberties Township, the district first gained limited autonomy from the township by an Act of Assembly on March 9, 1771. The Act provided for the appointment of persons to regulate streets, direction of buildings, etc. By March 30, 1791 a second Act enabled the inhabitants of that portion of the Northern Liberties between Vine Street and Pegg’s Run (Cohoquinoque Creek) and the middle of Fourth Street and the Delaware River to elect three commissioners to lay taxes for the purpose of lighting, watching and establishing pumps within those bounds.
During the Yellow Fever epidemics of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the Northern Liberties district was hard hit, with many fatalities.
On March 28, 1803, the Legislature passed an act to incorporate that part of the township of the Northern Liberties lying between the west side of Sixth Street and the Delaware River and between Vine Street and Cohocksink Creek, thus creating the District of Northern Liberties. Under the Act of Consolidation, 1854, the district ceased to exist, and became a part of Philadelphia.
THINGS TO DO IN NORTHERN LIBERTIES
WITH A WALK SCORE OF 93, NORTHERN LIBERTIES IS WALKERS PARADISE RESTAURANTS, BARS, STORES AND MORE.
Northern Liberties is easily one of Philly’s best neighborhoods for eating, given its walkable layout, top-notch bars and authentic, exciting international options. It’s also has some of the city’s most popular bruncheries.
Craft beer lovers have always been fond of Norther Liberties’ bar scene, but more and more options are popping up for cocktail fiends, too.
Norther Liberties has always been home to a left-of-center retail lineup, a personality that’s persisted throughout the its evolution from up-and-comer to Philly front runner. The neighborhood’s artistic daredevilry, meanwhile, has been bolstered by exciting real estate opportunities for gallery owners. Some great places to shop: The piazza
Northern Liberties’ green identity is relatively new, with intrepid neighborhood groups increasing plantings every day.
Primary and Secondary Schools
Northern Liberties residents are assigned to schools in the School District of Philadelphia.
Residents south of Poplar Street are zoned to the General Philip Kearny School for grades Kindergarten through 8.
Other schools in Northern Liberties consist of:
Laboratory Charter School – Walter D. Palmer Leadership Academy – Bodine High School of International Affairs
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