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Thread: Philadelphia->Northwest->Manayunk

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Philadelphia->Northwest->Manayunk

    Manayunk! A respectable family atmosphere until 7pm and frat boy debauchery until 2am. I took the bus from Broad & Carpenter, which runs express from City Hall (via 676 and the Schuylkill Expwy.) to the Wissahickon Transfer Center. All of the busses from Center City and beyond run Manayunk Ave. which is the boundary between Manayunk and Roxborough - or they run on Ridge Ave. which is well within Roxborough.



    Roxborough is "up the hill" and Manayunk is "down the hill" in the physical sense and historically as a class division. To get into the heart of Manayunk one can take the 15 minute train ride from Market East or the 45 minute bus ride through some of the worst neighborhoods in Philly. I chose the 27 bus and Manayunk Ave. bus because it was hot out and i preferred to walk down the hill rather than up it.

    Off the bus at the Manayunk/Roxborough border

















    New, steep-slope construction up the hill, new retaining walls and all.


    Right next to those new houses, the street ends and the sidewalk (sort of)continues. I'm pretty sure only 3 of the streets actually go down the hill from Roxborough to Manayunk. It's just too steep of a grade.




    When walking down the hill i was thinking this could be somewhere on the French/Swiss border - if not for the window A/C units.




    The R6 viaduct - trains to Conshohocken and Norristown or to Center City


    Down on Main St. a bit of Manayunk's industrial past now (what else?) condos!


    The courtyard of said condos.


    Banana Republic. Don't worry - there's also a Starbucks and a Pottery Barn. Manayunk changed so fast that most people didn't have a chance to blink. In less than two years it went from typical Appalachian mill town main st. to Princeton. There was so much pent-up demand across the river (the main line suburbs) for an urban shopping/recreation environment that it was almost like a tornado.


















    Last edited by jresta; 23 Aug 2005 at 2:05 AM.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian drucee's avatar
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    A great-looking neighborhood with foo-foo shops everywhere... looks like Philly's Lincoln Park.

    Is this where the rich white folks from Gladwyne and Lower Merion and Bryn Mawr go when they want to feel like they're going "out to the city" but are too lazy to drive into Center City?

    If so, this is an interesting case: an urban environment within the central city limits but isolated from the rest of the central city, built up in such a way that its primary functions benefit principally not the city to which it belongs, but the suburbs that it abuts. I can think of no other city with such a neighborhood, although Atlanta's Buckhead and Phoenix's Kierland (not actually a neighborhood, but a collection of lifestyle centers; here in the sprawl capital of the US, this is what passes for a neighborhood) come close.

    The reverse trend--upscale suburbs functioning as satellites of the prestige districts in the central city--is quite common. The ritzy main street of Englewood, NJ (itself a divided town, with a poor black and Puerto Rican population living quite literally on the other side of the railroad tracks) is populated by outposts of restaurants (all BYOB, as weird liquor laws in Bergen County make bars very hard to come by) and boutiques with branches in Manhattan. Downtown Naperville, IL has similarly become somewhat of a destination for Chicago's outerbelt, with quite a few branches of popular downtown Chicago restaurants. Same goes for Bethesda, MD, which, due to its Metro access, blends seamlessly into the urban agglomeration that is greater Washington, DC. Bellevue, WA is even developing enough skyscrapers to become the Seattle area's second downtown.

    And in cities such as Memphis where the suburbs boomed while downtown floundered, and downtown later bounced back, restaurants whose original branches are in the suburbs have opened locations downtown. Perhaps the greatest fried-chicken joint in the country, Gus's, began its life in a tumbledown shack in Mason, TN (35 miles out of Memphis) before planting itself in the center of downtown Memphis and, most recently, in Bartlett, an inner suburb that is almost completely built out.

  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    What a beautiful low-rise urban environment!!

    I love all the rowhouses built onto and into the hillsides...very nice.

    From what I understand, the reason this neighborhood has a more urban, centralized built form was due to it being an independent muni/settlement that was later (much later) annexed to the city of Philadelphia. Sort of like (but not really) like Pullman neighborhood in Chicago.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  4. #4
    Is there any city in America with a less-sonorous name than Conshohocken? I can still hear the Philly girls say it with that twangy-nasally intonation. Blehhhh.

    Are property values pushing lower-income types farther out? Where are they going?

    Nice photos, as usual. Thanks for the tour!
    Batter up!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Mendelman - Yes. Manayunk was an old mill town separate from the rest of the city. All of the mill towns on the east bank of the Schuylkill - Conshy, Norristown, or even East Falls - all have the same feel, they're just different sizes. Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Germantown, Tacony, Fox Chase, etc. are all villages that were annexed into the city. None of them look much different than towns (built around the same time) outside of the city limits.

    Drucee
    Is this where the rich white folks from Gladwyne and Lower Merion and Bryn Mawr go when they want to feel like they're going "out to the city" but are too lazy to drive into Center City?


    Pretty much, yeah. It's also a much more controlled environment than Center City. There are no homeless people asking you for change and the people walking Main St. are certainly less diverse than what you'd find at the KOP mall.
    Manayunk has become home to a good number of college kids but also to a large number of 20 somethings who want to be around a lot of other 20-somethings but don't want to leave the suburbs. A good many of them work in KOP, on the Main Line, or along City Ave. and split their social time between the 'Yunk and the town they grew up in.

    adding to what i said above, it's not much different from Chestnut Hill in that it serves a large suburban clientele - the demographics are just a little different - and Manayunk is less expensive.

    Gedunker
    Manayunk and Roxborough were always very white and very blue collar. For the most part Roxborough still is. In Philadelphia this translates to incredibly high rates of homeownsership. Some "Yunkers" were more than happy when their $35,000 rowhome was all of the sudden worth $350,000 and they cashed out. A lot of other people saw the neighborhood coming up and didn't want to move. Others have moved more recently complaining that, "there's no place to park anymore" or "I can't take these kids on the weekend." In either case I don't think they can be considered low-income after the sale.

    It's funny you should ask where they go. Most of them are just trading places with the suburban kids moving into their rowhomes.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  6. #6

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    Love the cut-stone architecture that seems more dominant in Philly than anywhere else. The stairway-"street" reminds me of Berkeley, CA's network of footpaths built when people in the new hillside suburbs (Northbrae, Panoramic Hill, Claremont Hills) used to walk down hill to the Key Line Interburban rail system.

    The shopping district looks like any number of Bay Area downtowns, including newer suburbs that are trying to build new "fake" versions (Pleasant Hill). Pleasant places, to be certain. In the Bay Area, though, the Lost Souls Brigade penetrate even the poshest business districts. There are a couple of beggars in Berkeley's "Gourmet Ghetto" that have been begging on the SAME CORNER for 14 years.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    Can someone explain the term "Main Line" to me when they're describing the Philly area. Is it a commuter train line? Is it a neighborhood? I'd appreciate it.
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
    is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Ever notice how tired buildings look without some sort of landscaping or street trees? Most of those look like amazing places, but I see the few pics that do not have any green in front of the buildings and it looks hot, dirty, and un-welcoming.

    I love the court yard pic.
    There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. However, it is our choice to learn the lesson and change or not.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    Mr. TN is still up in the Philly area, off the Upper Main Line, and he has tried to convince me that we should move to Manayunk, but I love the UML area. It is really pretty around there. He has a great time drinking in Manayunk. Plus, the UML is so close to Valley Forge and the people are so nice.

    TNOS, yes, the main line is the commuter rail.

  10. #10
    My mom used to teach elementary school in the 'yunk back when it was working class Irish and Italians. Her friends and roommates made fun of her for slumming it in such a low class area with the children of underemployed millworkers. Back then people said the "good neighborhoods" were in Northeast Philly... oh how the times have changed.

    The "Main Line" gets its name from the old Pennsylvania Railroad's Main Line, which is of course today the R5. My mom used to recite the mnemonic device to remember the towns/stops from the city: "Old Maids Never Wed And Have Babies;" Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr. Sociologist Digby Baltzell first coined the term "W.A.S.P." to describe the people who lived there, although today they're likely to be Jewish or Asian.

    The other suburban area in Montgomery County with the lesser-known origin, the "North Penn" valley, was named for the Northern Pennsylvania Railroad, which is today the other end of the R5 as it cuts through North Wales, Lansdale, and Hatfield.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    The Main Line, as passdoubt said, gets its name from the railroad. In the map below it's the string of towns along US 30. The RR is the grey line hooking through Merion Station, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, etc. Along Rt. 30 and in particular around the train stations are traditional Main St. shopping districts - although most of those towns are a lot less than what they could be and I blame a lot of it on PennDOT (widening the road where it should not have been.)

    You can also see the relationship between the Main Line towns and the neighborhoods of Northwest Philly (indicated in red) and to King of Prussia. Also note that the Manayunk/Roxborough area and Chestnut Hill/Mt. Airy are completely separated from the rest of the city and from each other by the Wissahickon Park.

    Lastly the Main Line is home to a few colleges - Villanova University being the most obvious followed by Rosemont College (not shown but between Bryn Mawr and Villanova), Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    I had made my own "discovery" of Manayunk about 12 years ago and decided it was a place I'd like to live. I saw it had enormous potential and loved all the little quirks of the physical forms necessitated by the steep terrain, such as the municipal stairways and homes set into hillsides. If I had bought then...ugh, can't stand to think of it! A bit of local lore says that you could always tell if girls were from Manayunk from their muscular legs caused by the uphill treks. Gets fun there in the winter, when streets are snow covered. I hear some people just leave their cars in place rather than risk an out-of-control slide down hill. If they manage to get out, cars are left at the bottom until weather improves.

    I worked with a woman who was a long-time resident of Roxborough. When she and her husband put their house on the market in '02, it sold in 72 hours. They moved way up 422 to Collegeville.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  13. #13
    Cyburbian nuovorecord's avatar
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    I've always wanted to visit Philly for the USPRO Championships. The "Manayunk Wall" is the highlight of the race. The race is 14 laps around Philly, so riders have to do this 14 times!

    Clearly, these guys are enjoying themselves...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails manayunk.JPG  
    "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." - Bill Clinton.

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