The trademark blue and gold signs that mark historical locations are ubiquitous in Philadelphia. Some are nothing more than fun facts and others can transport you back in time, if for only a few moments. Fishtown is largely devoid of these signs, but that doesn’t mean that the area isn’t rich with history.
Penn Treaty Park
Penn Treaty Park (above) is a testament to the deal between William Penn and the Lenape tribe in 1683 for peace between both parties. Today, the park is an all-purpose area that overlooks the Delaware River and features a large obelisk and a statue with the man himself looking onward, just as he did more than 300 years ago.
The former Reach Sporting Goods Company building
On one side of the 1700 block of Tulip Street lies the sleek, uber modern Memphis Flats condominiums. On the other, a nameless, dilapidated building which just so happens to have once held one of the leading sports equipment factories in the country. The A.J. Reach Sporting Goods Company was founded in the mid-1880s, when Fishtown was still decades away from shedding most of its industrial roots. The factory primarily made baseball equipment and, at one point in a pre-Spalding world, created the official baseball of the American League. Reach eventually sold his company to Albert Spalding and the factory closed for good in 1934.
St. Laurentius Church
Founded in 1885, St. Laurentius Church was the oldest Polish Roman Catholic church in the city. Although there were hopes to the contrary, the church’s doors were closed this past March due to structural issues. Though the outside is crowded with scaffolding, the interior features ornate and sometimes breathtaking artwork that will hopefully be seen by the public again.
Located at the corners of East Montgomery and Belgrade streets, Palmer Cemetery houses almost three centuries worth of Fishtonians. It includes generations from every war from the American Revolution onward.
Harbisons’ Dairy factory
It’s not often that a large milk bottle becomes a landmark but there is something about the one on top of the old Harbisons’ Dairy factory that has staying power.
Opened in the days before widespread commercial refrigeration, milk would be delivered from the factory twice a day to nearby residents by a horse drawn wagon. The tower itself was built in 1914 but it has long outlived the company it was built to commemorate, which ceased to exist in 1966.
The large milk bottle is rusted but it’s a welcome reminder that the past is not nearly as far back as it seems.
– Text and Images by Daniel Craig and Kevin Stairiker