We have to admit that Fishtown is a pretty cool, cartoon-esque name for a neighborhood. The town earned its quirky name from its past as a hub for shad fishing — the fish industry eventually faded, but the name stuck. Located north of Center City, the town is still a traditional working-class neighborhood but recently there’s been an influx of vibrancy. The town has history, good eats, and local art that we wanted to share with anyone wanting to get to know Philadelphia a bit more.
Like most neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Fishtown is super accessible by public transportation. Just take the Market-Frankford Line toward Frankford to the Girard stop, and walk east along Girard Avenue or north along Frankford Avenue.
It’s a common misconception that the entirety of Philadelphia’s history and America’s founding is located in Historic Philadelphia, clustered around Independence Hall. But overlooking the Delaware River, Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown has claim to its own bit of history. In 1863, William Penn and a Lenape tribe signed a peace treaty under an elm tree in what is now the park; a statue of Penn commemorates the occasion. Come for a relaxing picnic or a stroll along the banks of the Delaware.
So after a morning or afternoon visit to the park, what’s next? Food, of course! The good eats in Fishtown have the tendency to be awesome and quirky. Pizza Brain, the world’s first pizza museum and pizzeria, is definitely not an exception. The super large (so large it won a Guinness World Record) pizza memorabilia collection covers the entire shop. Over in the pizzeria, one of their famous pies, the Forbes Waggensense, landed a spot on Nylon Magazine’s “The 15 Best Slices of Pizza in America” and the food blog The Daily Meal’s “101 Best Pizzas in America.”
Pizza Brain isn’t the only record-breaking establishment in town. Frankford Hall has the city’s largest beer garden and is a wonderful place to spend any warm summer night. Authentic German food accompanies the large selection of beers, so stop by for the curry fries and spätzle as well as the lager.
If you’re looking for something a little more green than the typical German fare, there’s always Greensgrow. Thanks to this urban farm just across the neighborhood divide in Kensington, Fishtown residents and visitors have access to everything from arugula to zucchini. A nationally-recognized urban farm, Greensgrow has been a source of fresh produce since 1997, and their farm includes a 6000-square-foot greenhouse and a pig named Milkshake. Check out their event calendar for cool upcoming ways to check it out!
Weekends are a popular time in Fishtown, USA. On the first Friday of the month, the neighborhood hosts an art crawl on Frankford Avenue, a great event to support local artists. And if you want to venture just a little further north to Kensington, the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby happens annually in May. This parade features more human-powered vehicles than you ever thought existed, along with hilarious costumes and float themes.
Need a little refreshment after all the exploring in the neighborhood? Be sure to stop by La Colombe, who has their flagship Philly store in an enormous converted-industrial-feel building on Frankford Avenue. Their seasonal menu ranges from sandwiches to shrimp and grits, and they also offer classes for any coffee aficionado on topics like home brewing and latte art.
Fishtown is a growing neighborhood, with a lot to offer and even more coming up in the next year. So take a day or an afternoon, head up the Market-Frankford Line to Girard, and have fun exploring!