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Northwest Philly

Northwest Philly includes the areas of Roxborough/Manayunk and Germantown/Chestnut Hill. Below are detailed maps, descriptions and pictures of these areas.

Northwest Philly

germantown/Chestnut hll & Roxborough/Manayunk

Roxborough/Manayunk

Roxborough

Roxborough is bordered to the southwest, along the Schuylkill River, by the neighborhood of Manayunk, along the northeast by the Wissahickon Creek section of Fairmount Park, and to the southeast by the neighborhood of East Falls. Beyond Roxbrough to the northwest is Montgomery County. The area was likely named for Roxburghshire, Scotland, the original home of Andrew Robeson, one of the early settlers of what is now Roxborough. It may have also been named by the hermit Johannes Kelpius, leader of a millennial monastic-type group that lived along the Wissahickon, though he refers to as area as "Rocks-burrow" in a letter dated May 25, 1706.
Most of modern day Roxborough was once part of Roxborough Township, which was incorporated into the City of Philadelphia following the passage of the Act of Consolidation, 1854.
Roxborough has been a predominantly white, middle class neighborhood of Philadelphia. Lower Roxborough and the Wissahickon section of the neighborhood, near East Falls, are working class However, this economic picture is changing as gentrification occurs in Roxborough, Manayunk, and East Falls.
The commercial spine of the neighborhood is Ridge Avenue, which, as its name suggests, runs along the ridge between the Wissahickon Creek and the Schuylkill River. Most businesses are located on Ridge Avenue and most residents are within walking distance to it. Several coffee shops and restaurants have opened recently, along with boutiques and yoga studios.
Roxborough is well-connected to Center City Philadelphia with multiple bus routes and bike lanes reaching the river and downtown area of Philadelphia. Because of the Wissahickon Creek and the park which protects much of its watershed, Roxborough and Manayunk are physically separated from the rest of the city. Much of lower Roxborough, consisting of "row homes" and homes dating from the 1800s to 1900s, has a historic, urban character.
Roxborough's main park is Fairmount which has the Wissahickon Creek as its main water supply. This part of Fairmount Park is known as Valley Green which stretches from Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy to Center City Philadelphia. The park's numerous trails are used by cyclists, runners, walkers, dog owners and mountain bikers. Gorgas Park, located on Ridge Avenue, has vistas across the city.
Upper Roxborough, with its development occurring after 1950, has a suburban character: larger front lawns, garages, and shopping centers. Local news sources have been known to incorrectly refer to Roxborough as a suburb of Philadelphia.

Andorra
Andorra is a part of Roxborough, being within the borders of the original Roxborough Township. At some point during the 19th or 20th century, Andorra developed a cultural identity as a neighborhood within Roxborough (which occupies one of the higher elevations in Philadelphia, on bluffs overlooking the Schuylkill River) was named "Andorra" after a fancied resemblance to the small country of the same name which sits astride the Pyrenees between France and Spain.
Andorra was established and developed in 1950 and therefore has suburban characteristics, such as a strip mall, many single or double-family dwellings set back from the street, and apartment buildings on large lots with ample off-street parking. The most well-known apartment complexes are Summit Park and Henry on the Park.


East Falls

East Falls is located adjacent to Roxborough, Manayunk, and Germantown, and Fairmount Park. The neighborhood runs along a stretch of Ridge Avenue that is only a few miles long, along the banks of the Schuylkill River then extends northeast to Wissahickon Avenue. East Falls overlooks the multi-use recreational path of Fairmount Park along Kelly Drive, and is desirable for its central location, an easy commute to Center City, with easy access to several major roadways and public transportation. East Falls continues to develop, with new housing, retail space and recreation centers in production. It features two train stations, a number of bars and restaurants, a small Korean grocer, illustrious mansions as well as some recently renovated housing that continues to increase in value
 
Recently, East Falls has been undergoing redevelopment to elevate its status to Manayunk and other shopping districts in the Philadelphia area. Several local restaurants and coffee shops have been built. Another substantial addition, The Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center, was recently completed. sixteen court facility and operates in cooperation with the City of Philadelphia.


Manayunk

Manayunk is located on the banks of the Schuylkill River, it contains the first canal begun in the United States.The area's name comes from the language of the Lenape Indians. In 1686-dated papers between William Penn and the Lenape, the Lenape referred to the Schuylkill River as "Manaiung", their word for "river", which literally translates as "place to drink"; the word was later altered and adopted as the town's name.

Manayunk was originally part of the Roxborough Township, situated near the Schuylkill River, south of the Wissahickon Creek. The growing town was known as Flat Rock in 1810, from a peculiar flat rock lying on the lower side of the bridge. This was subsequently called Flat Rock Bridge.

The settlement got its nineteenth-century identity from the construction of the dam, canal, and locks by the Schuylkill Navigation Company. The Manayunk section was finished at the end of 1818.  After that, purchases of water-power and the erection of mills and factories greatly increased. In 1840, Manayunk was incorporated as a borough. Manayunk and the rest of the boroughs, townships, and districts comprising Philadelphia County were merged into the City of Philadelphia, through the Act of Consolidation, 1854. Although Manayunk was no longer a separate entity, the community maintained its identity as a self-contained neighborhood.

Manayunk continued to be one of the manufacturing centers of Philadelphia for the next 100 years, but in the 1980s, Manayunk suffered from the decline of manufacturing jobs. In the 1990s, Manayunk's revitalization began with the opening of several upscale restaurants on Main Street.

Manayunk retained its small-town charm with its small two- and three-story row homes, cobblestone paving, and hilly streets.The Manayunk Main Street Historic District and James Dobson School are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic district has 91 contributing buildings, 2 contributing sites, and 12 contributing structures. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
Although historically a working class community, in recent years the neighborhood has been substantially gentrified. While there is still a working class population within the neighborhood, the population has shifted to younger upper middle class professionals and families. Additionally, the nightlife in Manayunk draws visitors from all over the Delaware Valley, as well as some international visitors.


Wissahickon

Wissahickon is the informal name given to the area of Roxborough close to the Wissahickon Creek section of Fairmount Park.. The boundaries are Ridge Ave. to the West The Schuykill River to the South, East Falls to the east and Germantown to the North at Wissahickon Ave.

One miller had by 1690 already constructed a dam, sawmill, gristmill, and house by the narrow shelf of land at the confluence of the Wissahickon with the Schuylkill River, but the rugged terrain of the valley forestalled further development alongside the stream itself. By 1730, however, eight mills had been constructed, and by 1793, twenty-four, along with many dams. Most of America was still wilderness, but the Wissahickon Valley was a developing industrial center. There were more than fifty watermills by 1850.

Not until 1826 were the cliffs near the creek’s mouth blasted away to provide access to the cluster of mills at Rittenhousetown, approximately 1.5 mi up the creek on Paper Mill Run (also known as Monoshone Creek), a small tributary of the Wissahickon. Here William Rittenhouse (grandfather of the astronomer David Rittenhouse) had in the early 18th century built the first paper mill in America. Gradually this road and other mill access roads were connected, and in 1856 a private toll road, the Wissahickon Turnpike, linked the entire valley.

Seeking to prevent the stream’s industrial discharges from affecting the purity of the water of the Schuylkill River, the Fairmount Park Commission took title of much of the land along the Wissahickon in 1869-1870, and continued to expand its holdings in subsequent decades. The mills were razed; the last active mill was demolished in 1884.

However much the stream and its valley were appreciated, it still divided parts of the city. To help overcome this, in 1906 the Walnut Lane Bridge was built over the stream,joining the Roxborough and Germantown neighborhoods. Many larger Georgian Revival homes sit in the area. Most of the land in this area in on a summit.

Mount Airy

Mount Airy is bounded on the northwest by the Cresheim Valley, which is part of Fairmount Park. Beyond this lies Chestnut Hill. On the west side is the Wissahickon Gorge, which is also part of Fairmount Park, beyond which lies Roxborough and Manayunk. Germantown borders the southeast of Mount Airy, and Stenton Avenue marks the northeast border. Beyond Stenton Avenue is Cedarbrook and West Oak Lane.
area which makes up the modern neighborhood of Mount Airy was part of two sections of the original Germantown Township (which covered all of Germantown, Mount Airy, and Chestnut Hill), Cresheim and Beggarstown.
Throughout much of the 18th century, this area of Germantown Township was known in the land and tax records as simply Cresheim or Cresham. It was at the beginning of the 19th century that the name Mount Airy began to replace Cresheim.
Beggarstown (also Beggars-town or Beggar Town), an area centered along Germantown Avenue between Gorgas Lane and Cliveden Street, was formed out of the so-called "Sidelands" of Germantown. The name for this area disappeared by the late 19th century, and it was sometimes called Pelham, Germantown, or Mount Airy.
Much of modern Mount Airy was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, spreading out from Germantown Avenue and two railroad lines. Large three-story, gray-stone Victorian, colonial revival, and Norman and Cotswold-style houses and mansions, with stained glass windows and slate roofs, are situated on many of the area's tree-lined streets. They dominated districts like West Mount Airy's Pelham section, East Mount Airy's Gowen Avenue, Sedgwick Farms, and Stenton areas.

Chestnut Hill/Germantown

Chestnut Hill
Chestnut Hill is bounded on the northwest by Northwestern Avenue on the west by the Wissahickon Gorge on the northeast by Stenton Avenue (a county line and city limit, on the southeast by the Cresheim Valley
The village of Chestnut Hill was part of the German Township laid out by Francis Daniel Pastorius and came to include the settlements originally known as Sommerhausen and Crefeld, as well as part of Cresheim. It served as a gateway between Philadelphia and the nearby farmlands. Chestnut Hill became part of the City of Philadelphia in 1854 as part of the Act of Consolidation, when the County and the City became completely coterminous. In the same year, the Chestnut Hill Railroad opened, making an easy commute to and from Center City.
From the mid-19th century through the mid-20th, the neighborhood served as the functional equivalent of both a "railroad suburb" and a "streetcar suburb" of Center City; although it was part of Philadelphia, and not a suburb, it was a leafy outlying part functioning much like a commuter town. The neighborhood contains a wide variety of 19th and early 20th century residential buildings by many of the most prominent Philadelphia architects. Chestnut Hill is known stereotypically as one of the more affluent sections of Philadelphia.

Germantown

Germantown is a neighborhood about 7–8 miles northwest from the center of the city. and stretches for about two miles along Germantown Avenue northwest from Windrim and Roberts Avenues. The boundaries of Germantown borough at the time it was absorbed into the city of Philadelphia were Wissahickon Avenue, Roberts Avenue, Wister Street, Stenton Avenue and Washington Lane. Germantown was founded by German settlers in 1683. In 1688, five years after its founding, Germantown became the birthplace of the anti-slavery movement in America.
When Philadelphia was occupied by the British during the American Revolutionary War, British units were housed in Germantown. In the Battle of Germantown, in 1777, the Continental Army attacked this garrison. During his presidency, George Washington and his family lodged at the Deshler-Morris House in Germantown to escape the city and the yellow fever epidemic of 1793.
Today the founding day of Germantown is remembered as German-American Day, a holiday observed annually on October 6.

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