Northern Liberties is coolest neighborhood in Philly, says Gawker poll

Brooklyn Flea in northern liberties philadelphia
A flea market at The Piazza in the summer of 2013. Credit: Metro file photo

While Philadelphia people don’t really read the New York-centric celebrity blog Gawker very often, occasionally Gawker comes to Philadelphia.

A recent Gawker poll asked readers to identify the “Williamsburg” of their city, and Northern Liberties was the top pick for Philadelphia with a whopping 15 votes. Fishtown came in a close second with eight votes. The runners up were, in descending order, Manayunk, Passyunk, South Philly, South Street, Art Museum area, and Fairmount.

Williamsburg in this poll does not refer to historic Williamsburg in Virginia, but to the former working-class and immigrant neighborhood along the East River in Brooklyn, New York, which in the past 20 years has become a bastion of yuppies, hipsters, bars, clubs, and high-end fashions store and restaurants.

It is considered “the hippest — or formerly hippest — or sometimes just youngest — neighborhood, the one with the art galleries and the boutiques and the lines for brunch,” according to Gawker writer Max Read.

The poll also asked readers about what the “Bushwick” — a.k.a. “next Williamsburg” is. Fishtown took the crown in that survey with eight votes. The runners up in descending order were West Philly, Callowhill, Frankford Ave., Kensington, NOrthern Liberties (?) and South Philly.

Bushwick, a neighborhood directly to the east of Williamsburg in Brooklyn and formerly occupied by primarily poor Latino immigrants, has in the last five years been undergoing steady gentrification and is currently considered a hub of Brooklyn’s art scene.

Ironically, Northern Liberties did in fact host a Williamsburg import in 2013 – the “Brooklyn Flea,” a flea market stationed inside the Piazza at Schmidts. It was closed never to return at the end of the summer due to lack of interest.

Also noteworthy is 3rd Ward, a creative co-working space founded in Williamsburg, which opened its Philadelphia branch in May just a block north of the Northern Liberties neighborhood border, at North 4th and Thompson streets. The entire 3rd Ward organization went bankrupt five months later.


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