The latest entry on Philadelphia YIMBY’s First Anniversary Countdown, which tracks the most frequently mentioned article categories over the course of the past year, looked at Northern Liberties, which placed at number 18 on the list. On Saturday we looked in closer detail at the neighborhood’s northeast quadrant, which is emerging as a distinct neighborhood in its own right. Today we inquire into Northwest Northern Liberties, the second of the three principal districts that comprise the neighborhood, and some of its salient ongoing development.
Northern Liberties is the oldest neighborhood in North Philadelphia, having emerged as a waterfront suburb shortly after the city’s original grid was laid out in 1682. By the end of the 18th century, the town bustled with industry and maritime activity, and ranked as the nation’s seventh-largest city by 1790. The district, eventually absorbed by Philadelphia in 1854, continued to blossom until the early twentieth century.
The neighborhood entered a sharp decline in the postwar period. Virtually all waterfront activity had ground to a halt, and, one after another, adjacent manufacturing facilities shut down, as well. This downturn devastated the neighborhood’s predominantly industrial southern and northeast quarters.
By contrast, Northern Liberties’ northwest quadrant was predominantly residential, and as such as escaped the devastation that befell its counterparts. To this day, it retains a sizable portion of its original prewar building stock, which holds some of the city’s oldest buildings to be found anywhere outside of Center City.
Northwest Northern Liberties may be described as being located between Green Street to the south, North 2nd Street or North Third Street to the east, North 5th or North 6th Street to the west, and Girard Avenue to the north.
The district spearheaded the neighborhood’s revival, which began in the 1990s and continues to this day. Since that time, a number of townhouses and apartment buildings filled most of the remaining street gaps in the cityscape. As the district becomes increasingly built-out, the volume of development-ready space continues to shrink, yet remains plentiful enough that ground-up construction continues to this day.
Below we look at a few of the most notable developments that we covered in Northwest Northern Liberties during the past year.