Philly's coolest and trendiest neighborhood, Fishtown is a friendly place of both gentrifiers and long-time residents living in harmony. Former industrial lots and fisheries are now filled with people and purpose for many types. Galleries and public art. Dive bars and trendy taverns. Five-star restaurants and cheesesteak joints. Concert halls and rock clubs. Decades-old businesses and co-working spaces. Fortunately, it's a dynamic urban cultural neighborhood along the Philadelphia riverfront.
Hipsters, artists, young families, gig economists, third-shifters, start-up entrepreneurs, foodies and of course, the working-class, all call the district home. Rowhouses, mid-rise rentals and loft-style Fishtown apartments line its blocks. In fact, it's America's hottest neighborhood. But what is it like to live in Fishtown, Philadelphia?
Where is Fishtown in Philadelphia?
Fishtown, Philadelphia is just northeast of Center City along the Delaware River. It's bordered by similar-vibe neighborhood Northern Liberties to the south, up-and-coming Olde Kensington to the west and East Kensington to the north.
North Front Street, East York Street and the river form most of its border. I-95 forms a spine on its east side along Delaware Avenue. The Fishtown Philadelphia ZIP Code is 19125, also shared with the Kensingtons. Also, the neighborhood contains portions of 19123.
Living in Fishtown, Philadelphia
Like many gentrifying neighborhoods around the country, Fishtown has seen changes in demographics, increases in entertainment options and shifts in public services.
But Fishtown's uniqueness lies in how it has been able to grow its new, younger population without pushing out longstanding residents. Considering this, how do some of the neighborhood's most important community and lifestyle aspects rate?
Nearly everybody lives in Fishtown. Zennials including empty-nesters, moms, recent grads, cops, novelists, homeowners, renters, natives and newbies. People from across the spectrum live in harmony in Philadelphia's Fishtown.
Demographically, the neighborhood is pretty middle-of-the-road. Over two-thirds of Fishtown households make under $100,000 a year. Over half of residents are between 20 and 44, and half have never been married. Additionally, most have not completed higher than a high school education. Fishtown is overwhelmingly white, numbering over 85 percent compared to 35 percent for the city overall.
Fishtown, as all of Philadelphia, is part of the School District of Philadelphia. Public school elementary school students attend Alexander Adaire School while older kids matriculate at Penn Treaty School for grades six through graduation. The neighborhood features one Catholic school, Saint Laurentius School. While there are no colleges in Fishtown, Temple University is just a mile away.
With gentrification comes security. Compared to some of its rougher neighbors like Kensington or Fairhill, Fishtown is extremely safe. In fact, Fishtown is one of Philly's top 10 safest neighborhoods. It ranks ninth-best in the city in every category: violent crimes, property crimes and total crimes. Luckily, residents here have just a one in 35 chance of being a victim of a crime. And 88 percent of Fishtowners report the neighborhood as feeling "pretty safe" too.
Recreation and entertainment
For nightlife options, no neighborhood can match Fishtown.
If you're a music fan, you have a run of venue types, including Johnny Brenda's, The Barbary, Kung Fu Necktie, The Foundry and Fillmore Philadelphia.
The region is one of the best in Philly — if not the entire East Coast — for pizza, Mexican, breakfast and coffee, not to mention Joe's Steaks, one of the city's best cheesesteak jawns. Fishtown, also, offers one of the city's best bar scenes, including Barcade, Murph's Bar, Lloyd Whiskey Bar and Kraftwork.
Rivers Casino Philadelphia was Philly's first gaming casino to open. Fishtown features several art galleries like Gravy Studio, Mothership Toy Gallery and Corridor Contemporary. And Fabrika is a unique cabaret space.
Penn Treaty Park is just one of many green spaces in Fishtown, including Palmer Park, Konrad Square and Hetzell Playground. Got a pupper? Palmer Doggie Depot features a cobblestone-lined play area, solar lighting and canine drinking fountains.
Frankly, Fishtown is one of the most convenient neighborhoods in Philly.
SEPTA's Market-Frankford train line runs along Fishtown's western border on Front Street. There are stations at Girard Avenue and at Berks Street taking you into Center City in just 10 minutes. SEPTA's Route 15 streetcar trolley begins by the Fillmore in Fishtown and runs along Girard and Richmond Avenues and all the way to West Philadelphia.
Additionally, Interstate 95 runs along the eastern side of Fishtown, northwest of Delaware Avenue. I-95's Exit 23 dumps traffic directly into Fishtown at Girard and Delaware Avenues. Via the Interstate, it's about 15 minutes to both the Philadelphia International Airport or to Camden, New Jersey. Not to mention, the neighborhood offers a walkability score of 91 and a bike score of 84.
The area that is now Fishtown was originally home to the Turtle Clan of the Lenape Native American tribe. But soon came the Swedish settlers, then the Germans, then the British. William Penn made his peace treaty with the Lenape at Penn Treaty Park in 1683.
Likewise, Fishtown was an early hub for Philly's fishing industry — ergo the name. It was a blue-collar, working-class industrial neighborhood for 325 years.
Fishtown's rise again began in 2003 — when two entrepreneurs decided to renovate an old boxer's bar called Johnny Brenda's into a craft beer and billiards haven with a killer concert venue upstairs. That one push began to transform Fishtown into its booming self today.
10 things to do in Fishtown
Fishtown, Philadelphia is one of Philly's best 'hoods for food, drink, coffee, art and entertainment. So what is there to do in the neighborhood? Probably start by eating… a lot.
- Catch a show upstairs at Johnny Brenda's, a 250-capacity two-story space featuring national touring acts, or the Fillmore Philadelphia, a 2,500-capacity concert hall.
- Grab some ribs and a stein of Weissbier at Fette Sau, a popular barbecue spot, and Frankford Hall, the authentic German beer hall next door.
- Play the slots and table games at Rivers Casino Philadelphia — one of just two casinos in the Philly city limits and the only one walking distance from Center City.
- Bite into the classic lox sandwich at Philly Style Bagels, Bon Appétit Magazine's “Sandwich of the Year."
- Take in the riverfront views and the history at Penn Treaty Park, which surrounds the site where William Penn entered his famous peace agreement with Lenape Chief Tamanend in 1683.
- Down a beer flight at Evil Genius Beer Company, which is known for ludicrous names for their amazing craft beer like “I Miss Precedented Times" and “Purple Monkey Dishwasher."
- Stay the night at Wm. Mulherin's Sons, recently named USA Today “Best New Hotel in America."
- Snag a half-price happy hour latte at the flagship location of beloved local coffee shop La Colombe.
- Laugh along with America's best and most famous comics at Punchline Philly comedy club.
- Eat a killer pie at Pizzeria Beddia, named “Best Pizza in America" by Bon Appétit, or at Pizza Brain, featuring the world's first Museum of Pizza Culture.
Finding an apartment in Fishtown Philadelphia
In a city of neighborhoods, Fishtown is the king mackerel. A neighborhood for foodies, vintage shoppers, beer lovers, headbangers and hipsters, Fishtown has a diverse population of both new and generational, young and old, working and social class.
If you're willing to pay the price, Fishtown is one of the best neighborhoods in Philly, if not the nation.