The name “Fishtown” is derived from the area’s former role as the center of the shad fishing industry on the Delaware River. The name comes from the fact that a number of 18th and early 19th centuries German and German American families bought up the fishing rights on both sides of the Delaware River from Trenton Falls down to Cape May, New Jersey. Also, in the early 18th century, an English colonist was fabled to have caught the largest shad in the world in the Delaware River.
The apocryphal local legend traces the name of Fishtown to Charles Dickens, who purportedly visited the neighborhood in March 1842, but records show this to be false, as it was named Fishtown prior to his visit.
content source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishtown,_Philadelphia
History Of Fishtown
The area was originally inhabited by members of the Turtle Clan of the Lenni Lenape Indian tribe (whom the Europeans named the Delaware Indian Tribe). The first European settlers were a group of six Swedish farming families, later replaced by British landed gentry, then British shipbuilders and German fishermen. Fishtown was originally a small section of the town of Kensington, close to the Delaware River and just a few blocks long, roughly from Palmer Street north to Gunnar’s Run, from the Delaware River to Moyer Street. The original town of Kensington was only 191.5 acres of land and originally called the Fairman Estate. Today’s Penn Treaty Park sits where the Fairman Mansion once stood (actually Fairman Mansion sat in the middle of Beach Street, curb to curb, right north of Columbia Avenue). Kensington was founded by Captain Anthony Palmer, an Englishman by way of Barbados. Palmer purchased the Fairman Estate in 1729 and laid out his town and sold parcels to the local fishermen and shipbuilders. Anthony Palmer eventually became active in the provincial council and became acting Governor of Pennsylvania in 1747-1748. Palmer died in 1749 and was buried in Christ Church Cemetery in Philadelphia. (The Kensington Burial Grounds in Fishtown, also known as Palmer Cemetery, was founded around 1732 and is still an active burial ground, situated on land deeded to the community by the Palmer Family after Anthony Palmer’s death. It is believed that the cemetery was in use from about the time Palmer started to lay out the town of Kensington, but the actual date of the first burial is unknown.)
Within a few generations there was another influx of German immigrants, then still later in the late 19th century Polish and Irish Catholic immigrants. The community has three Roman Catholic Churches, St. Laurentius, built by the Polish immigrants, and the Holy Name of Jesus and the Immaculate Conception, both built predominantly by Irish immigrants. Holy Name along with Saint Laurentius and the Immaculate Conception continue to serve the community–albeit the latter two as worship sites and no longer as independent parishes.
Things to do in Fishtown
Since Philly-based La Colombe is now in nearby cities like New York City and Washington, D.C., it’s likely you’ve heard of the coffee purveyor. But there is no other La Colombe like the company’s HQ. The massive space (even in city standards) not only serves the brewer’s signature drips, lattes on draft and tasty sandwiches, it also has a distillery that produces top-notch rum, which can be enjoyed in the café, along with wine and beer. 1335 N. Frankford Ave., 267.479.1600
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