What Is the Williamsburg of Philadelphia? Discuss.


Photo of Fishtown by Liz Spikol

Gawker writer Max Read knows how to get people talking. Here are the words he wrote yesterday that got the comments section to explode:

Williamsburg and Bushwick, two Brooklyn neighborhoods, have become, for various reasons both accurate and not, a global icon of “hipness.” But it’s obviously not the only “hip” neighborhood in the world. What’s your city’s Williamsburg? And what’s its Bushwick?

And then, because people were getting a little confused, he clarified:

So, just to make it clearer, I’m looking for the neighborhoods in your city where the self-consciously arty creative-class would-be bohemians congregate. Williamsburg went from a lower-middle and working-class immigrant neighborhood to a refuge for artists priced out of Manhattan to an expensive alt-yuppie neighborhood—it used to be the neighborhood where the cool young arty kids went; now it’s the neighborhood where the rich old arty kids go (and live). Bushwick is where the cool young arty kids go and live now; it’s somewhere on the back end of the “cheap artist refuge” stage of gentrifying neighborhoods.

Surprisingly, Philadelphians — who are typically quick on the Gawker uptake — didn’t join the conversation until quite late, i.e., after cities like Dallas, Tampa, Milwaukee, Louisville, Seattle, Portland, Ore. and Portland, Maine, Atlanta, D.C., Houston, Boston, Toronto, Columbus and more.

But when they did (though one commenter answered “Philadelphia doesn’t care”), the overwhelming response was Fishtown, followed by Northern Liberties, Passyunk Square and East Passyunk.

Some of the more trenchant comments:

From user DenDenis:

Fishtown, East Passyunk, and NoLibs (pronnounced ‘BroLibs’ for obvious reasons) are now FULLY Williamsburg. East Kensington and Callowhill are on the waning edge of being Bushwick. Close to becoming fully Williamsburg-ing as we speak. 1980’s Bushwick (aka. Creative Class:NOPE!) for the forseeable future:
West Kensington, Frankford, Juniata, Parkside, Strawberry Mansion, Bridesburg and the majority of Port Richmond. (Yes. I said Port Richmond. It ain’t gonna be Williamsburg-ing there for a long-ass time. Sorry pioneers, you WAY overshot the mark. Just be happy, buy some pants that fit correctly, and continue to live cheaply and fixie-free.)

And commenter Hallpass wrote:

Philly seems to have been playing the gentrification game longer than most large U.S. cities. Thirty years ago the Williamsburg was Society Hill, between the part of town where everyone worked and the “waterfront.” Twenty years ago, it Fitler Square and the Art Museum area, along the Schuylkill River. Fifteen years ago in the Northern Liberties, I started to hear about my peers renting crappy row homes and lofts and making skateboard documentaries. In the last 10 years, in the wake of the suggestion the Philly is New York’s “Sixth boro,” it’s really taken off. There’s Fishtown in the north, Bella Vista to the south, East Falls became a respectable place to live within spitting distance of the already tony Mannyunk section and West Philly is steadily filling up with artists, musicisans and professionals.

Well, readers? What do you think?

What’s the Williamsburg of Your City? [Gawker]