Forget Snookis, Old City is Overrun with Techies

All is not lost in the historic 'hood. By day, it's a thriving technology hub

Philadelphia magazine’s September feature by Richard Rys documents an Old City in transition—and not a pretty one. A neighborhood once thriving with artists, entertainment and prominent restaurateurs turns into a bad episode of Jersey Shore on weekends, the writer contends.

But that’s not the Old City we know. By day, the historic neighborhood has become something of a Web development and technology startup haven. Earlier this year, as city technology leaders prepared Philadelphia’s bid for Google’s ultra high-speed broadband Internet pilot, it was Old City that was chosen as one of the city’s potential technology hubs, for the diverse technologists that live and work there.

Here’s our look at what still sparkles in Old City…

Independents Hall: Perhaps Old City’s biggest technology influence is co-working space IndyHall, just above Market on Third, which houses 83 independent workers who have an office to call their own. Many technologists from Silicon Valley, New York and other predominant technology centers check out the spot when in town.

Zivtech: The crew at Zivtech, developers committed to open source web technologies, moved onto Strawberry Street last summer, taking over the Independents Hall’s outgrown office space. Partner Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg doesn’t even flinch when Danny Bonaduce walks by.

National Mechanics: The bar and restaurant, located in the marble grandiosity of what was once a bank on Third Street, is the Old City techie’s second office. Owned by e-commerce firm WebLinc, which houses its offices upstairs, the bar has been host to dozens of technology networking events. The nachos ain’t bad either.

I-SITE: Marketing firm I-SITE, along with some killer interactive web development chops, kicks off against the Old City Athletic Club for a charity soccer match a few times per year.

LTL Prints: The small company, which sells static wall stickers that work, from artists like Yiying Lu, the creator of Twitter’s popular Fail Whale art, moved from Center City to Old City last year. Co-founder Kendall Schoenrock has roots in the venture capital community in Philadelphia.

Philebrity: Yep, even new media maven Joey Sweeney — who’s been known to knock the neighborhood’s nightlife once or twice — recently recently moved the blog’s digs above AKA Music on Second Street, which could go swimmingly with the brand’s new music label.

Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise Conference: In April, enterprise development firm Chariot Solutions hosted its internationally popular conference at the Society Hill Sheraton, just South of the neighborhood, outgrowing digs in the ‘burbs for something more city-centric.

Sumo Heavy Industries: Bart Mroz’s e-commerce development firm, is based in Old City, too. Mroz was one of Independence Hall’s first members, and those neighborhood ties run deep.