About Northern Liberties
Photo courtesy of Todd Mason
Northern Liberties is one of the nation's primary examples of urban renewal. Ever since the breweries, leather tanneries and textile mills that made this a 19th century center for manufacturing closed down, the neighborhood just north of Old City had been a wasteland of abandoned factories and ramshackle rowhouses. But something funny happened on the way to the 21st century, and that was the concept of green architecture. Suddenly, progressive and eco-conscious developers were everywhere, turning once forgettable residential structures into mind-bogglingly unique sculptures forging function and design pleasingly enough to compel thousands of new residents to call them “home.”
In the years that followed, NoLibs became a haven for artsy New Yorkers priced out of Brooklyn. They, along with many design-forward Philadelphians, turned the blocks bordered by Girard Avenue, Callowhill Street, N. 6th Street and the Delaware River into the city’s original hipster hangout, full of art galleries, beer bars and tattoos. Many of those hipsters have grown up along with the neighborhood and can now be seen pushing strollers to the brand-new SuperFresh (the neighborhood’s first full-size grocery), vegetarian coffee shops, and European-style pedestrian malls, and younger hipsters have in turn gotten priced out of Northern Liberties. But despite the latest wave of gentrification, make no mistake, Northern Liberties retains its funky edge and still makes for a fun place to stroll and admire the body art.