Warming Up in 19125

Emerald Street Urban Farm | Photo: Peter Woodall

Various indicators of Kensington’s evolution, besides increasing property values:

  • New Kensington CDC’s garden center at Frankford and Berks, which opened in the 1990s to serve as a plant supplier for all the new community and side gardens created from vacant lots, closed this year. Why? Vacant land, once in enormous surplus, is now shrinking and the need for acute measures–guerilla gardens and privatizing side lots–is falling. In any case, says NKCDC executive director Sandy Salzman of vacant land, “some of it people love and so we have to decide what stays and what doesn’t.”
  • The Columbia Avenue connection, which links the “Big Green Block” to Penn Treaty Park, continues with Bryan Hanes’ light towers and light-generating form-fitting walls for the I-95 underpass to be installed by PennDot.
  • Pop’s playground at Huntington and Trenton Avenues will be part of a linked skate-boarding pathway.
  • Enrollment at the new Kensington CAPA High School is creeping over the 400 student capacity, already causing changes in the way the spaces in the building are used.
  • NKCDC deputy director Shanta Schachter says the school is teaching a lesson on building quality. School District officials wanted grates on the windows and threatened they would be installed as soon as one of the school’s windows became broken. Well, two windows are broken. The cause (not vandalism): the August earthquake. No grates coming.
  • Salzman, who grew up at Frankford and Palmer, says all the neighborhood’s Catholic schools have closed but Visitation BVM at B and Huntington, which is not what she would have predicted 10 years ago. Why has this school survived? Easy access to the El for parents on their way to work in Center City.
  • 23 new businesses opened last year in 19125, according to Schachter.
  • Community leaders have turned their sights to the neighborhood around the Somerset El station–widely considered the city’s #1 drug corner. This is Rocky’s neighborhood, kicked in the teeth a little too many times. And yet a vision is emerging.
About the author

Nathaniel Popkin is co-founder of the Hidden City Daily and author of three books of non-fiction, including Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City (with Peter Woodall and Joseph E.B. Elliott) and two novels, Everything is Borrowed and Lion and Leopard. He is co-editor of Who Will Speak for America, an anthology forthcoming in June 2018, and the senior writer of the film documentary "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment."



Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Defending Philly History From 3,000 Miles Away

Defending Philly History From 3,000 Miles Away

October 17, 2018  |  Vantage

Joshua Bevan knew he had to act after discovering the architectural beauty of Belmont. From his home in San Francisco he mobilized to nominate a neighborhood landmark for historic designation. In this essay Bevan describes his journey between the Bay Area and Philly to protect the McGaw Mansion > more

Design Coalition Aims To Bridge The Old-New Divide

Design Coalition Aims To Bridge The Old-New Divide

October 12, 2018  |  Walk the Walk

Move over Miami, the Philadelphia Design District is getting ready for some time in the spotlight. The coalition of gallery owners, artisans, and tech startups want to transform Old City into a hive of contemporary design, while preserving the neighborhood's historic character. Joe Brin takes a look inside the idea with co-founder Eugenie Perret > more

Germantown Boys & Girls Club Compromise Brings Peace To Penn Street

Germantown Boys & Girls Club Compromise Brings Peace To Penn Street

October 9, 2018  |  News

Owners of Germantown Boys and Girls Club reach an agreement with preservationists after two years of heated debate. Starr Herr-Cardillo has the news > more

Shakespeare & Co. Brings Old Bank Back To Life

Shakespeare & Co. Brings Old Bank Back To Life

October 4, 2018  |  Buzz

Manhattan-based bookstore and café revives an old banking storefront in Rittenhouse Square. Michael Bixler takes a look > more

Historic Districts Make A Comeback

Historic Districts Make A Comeback

October 2, 2018  |  Vantage

After nearly a decade of lost opportunities, creative new strategies emerge for protecting Philadelphia's historic neighborhoods > more

Bearing Witness To Destruction On Christian Street

Bearing Witness To Destruction On Christian Street

September 28, 2018  |  Vantage

This summer contributor Mickey Herr recorded the slow demolition of Christian Street Baptist Church from the beginning to the end. In this photo essay she shares what it was like to watch a 128-year-old neighborhood landmark being reduced to rubble > more