What do two fashionable shop owners, a church thrift store founder, a police sergeant and an art gallery owner have in common? They represent the myriad of identities found in one of Philadelphia’s most rapidly expanding neighborhoods. Fishtown has quickly become a desirable hub for entrepreneurs, young professionals and local foodies and artists but has not completely lost its grit and reputation for “tough guys” and drugs.
Raised in the Fishtown area, Sergeant Kevin Bernard has seen the neighborhood change drastically. As a Narcotics Enforcement Team supervisor in the 26th district, which includes Fishtown, Northern Liberties, North Philadelphia and parts of Kensington, Bernard says that while the influx of affluence has pushed the drug problem underground, that hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing for the neighborhood.
“The amount of money that has poured into fishtown has definitely made it much better,” Bernard said.
Bernard’s empirical insight on the neighborhood makes him a valuable resource to residents and business owners alike.
Featured in the October 2013 article by The New York Times, Sarah Lewis has helped spearhead the creative revolution happening in Fishtown today. Adorn Boutique & Showroom, Lewis’s jewelry boutique, opened in 2011 and has become a destination for those who seek jewelery of the “boho-chic” variety.
If you want to know who to know or where to go look no further than Two Percent to Glory, owned by Sarah Anderson. A University of Pennsylvania graduate, Anderson moved to Fishtown and made an effort to become a part of the community. Her vintage boutique features items from all over the world handpicked by the former fashion PR student.
“In all honesty, I like all of the things,” she said. “I bought all the things for me but I can’t have all that stuff.”
Though affected by the gentrification-sponsored hike in real estate costs, Anderson said, “I love being a part of the community and a small business owner in Philly.”
When Martha Grace moved to Fishtown, she saw a need and very soon she worked to fill it.
“It felt like there were people who had things and people who didn’t,” Grace said.
By opening a thrift store on Frankford called Circle Thrift, Grace and a team of others created a resource designed to eradicate the sartorial separation in the neighborhood.
“This was a place where they could come together,” she said.
Circle Thrift opened in 2004 and is connected to a small church located a few blocks down from the store that is focused on developing a relationship with the community.
When Lindsay Chandler and her friends were kicked out of a Fishtown art studio, they decided to create their own. FJORD, which debuted in March 2012, is a multifaceted gallery involved in everything from dance parties to film screenings to cookouts.
“We like to diversify the art,” Chandler said.
Photos taken by: Sofiya Ballin and Layla Jones (except the submission)