The Greening of Manayunk

Once, the Indians came here to drink. Now, the yuppies do. And ex-mayor Bill Green is right in the middle of it all, merrily ringing up the register

John knew sports and made some claims about sex. Marge knew religion and made some claims about the afterlife. The softball players grumbled a little when Marge began holding her evening encounter groups with her mystic friends, and to this day there are homeless softball players who blame what happened to D.G.’s on that "art crowd." But nobody said much because there wasn’t a person that frequented the place who didn’t like Marge and know her intentions were pure. She proved it every Sunday afternoon, lying on her stomach beside first base taking films of their games. It was that kind of selfless dedication that rallied the patrons of D.G.’s around the idea that Marge should get herself elected to something.

She did, too. Got herself elected president of the Business Association of Manayunk — a big name for those people who kept trying to get parking meters.

But the longer Marge served, the more she learned about what Manayunk could be someday. First came the parking lot. That was in 1979, and local people had been trying to get those extra spaces for 12 years. Then things really started to happen. They put trees on Main Street. There was talk of development. Finally, using the 2.2 million dollar grant that had landed in Manayunk several years earlier, they cleaned up the canal and made it into something tourists would want to look at. The canal had been sitting there, something useless and smelly, ever since the mills started dying off and traffic became something for wheels. And while a lot of politicians would later take credit for getting the money to make the canal into something tourists wanted to look at, it was actually the federal government that made it happen by throwing money this way and that way — any place where people were claiming to be historic.

But some Yunkers thought that, historic or not, there was no need to change the canal. And since Marge was in a position of responsibility she heard about it.
With typical Yunker candor, they came right into the bar and told her to her face. They liked the canal the way it was. It didn’t smell as bad as all that and there was no problem swimming in it if you cleaned yourself off good afterward. Making it pretty and this and that and the other thing would just attract a bunch of Main Line phonies, that’s what. What was she trying to do, turn this into another New Hope? No way they needed that. Why didn’t she take all those big ideas and go back across the river to Belmont Hills where she came from because even though she had been on Main Street 25 years she wasn’t a real Yunker.

That hurt. But Marge knew some Yunkers were just like that — they liked their world small and familiar. And she knew, too, that there was no way of stopping Manayunk from going in its new direction even if she wanted to.