On Hidden City today, Bradley Maule writes in great depth about West Girard Avenue, in particular, the blocks between 2500 and 3100. The neighborhood was vibrant even into the 1980s, but in the ’90s the area was hit hard–like so many American urban neighborhoods–by the drug trade. Yet in the last 10 years, Maule writes, there’s been a remarkable turnaround–one that sounds surprisingly uninflected by classic new arrival-vs.-old-timer tensions that are seen all too commonly in neighborhoods like Point Breeze.
One of the reasons for relative peace seems to be the delicacy of area developers, like MM Partners’ Jacob Roller, who told Maule, “We’ve been very sensitive to the idea of gentrification. We’re not coming in to change the neighborhood. We want to add to its core, and forming relationships is key.”
The breadth of businesses and number of community partners in Brewerytown’s core may be somewhat surprising, particularly to folks who don’t get to that part of the city often. The Philadelphia Police Department, Brewerytown’s Little Leaguers, the Mural Arts Program, Best in Show dog groomers, Blue Jay restaurant, Mugshots Coffeehouse, the nonprofit Next City, Girard Vet Clinic, Nagelberg Hardware, City Council Prez Darrell Clarke, Icy Signs, the Chicken Master restaurant–they all seem to be working in concert to better the neighborhood and infuse the area with vigor. MM Partners has been a guiding light. Maule writes:
They’ve also helped organize community events like last year’s Food Truck Roundup and last night’s concert by Khari Mateen, the Grammy-nominated cellist who performed at Veterans Memorial Park, the small green space at 31st & Girard punctuated by the Freedom School mural featuring Malcolm X, Ella Baker, Martin Luther King, and Frederick Douglass.
There’s also been much collaboration around tomorrow’s event: the Brewerytown Spring Festival, helmed by Best in Show’s Tim McAdams. “As a resident and consumer, I really think we’ve turned a corner here,” he told Maule, and the Festival is probably the best way to see that. The event spans transforms West Girard Avenue into a hopping boulevard with live music, more than 15 food trucks, and numerous vendors selling art and crafty things like (just a guess) bracelets made out of antique buttons. As weekend events go, this one comes highly recommended.
WHAT: Brewerytown Spring Festival
WHEN: Saturday, May 18, noon-5
WHERE: 27th and Girard
WHY: So you can see the neighborhood everyone will be moving to next
West Girard Avenue, Brewerytown’s Backbone On The Mend [Hidden City]