In this Community Contributor piece longtime PlanPhilly advisor and Fishtown native Michael Greenle reflects on the recent designation of St. Laurentius Church as historic, and what this underdog's victory means. Growing…
Fishtown, named after its thriving shad industry, is a neighborhood in the Bridesburg/Kensington/Richmond area of Philadelphia. The neighborhood is formed in the shape of a triangle, with its boundaries being the Delaware River, Frankford Avenue, and York Street. Fishtown is best known for being the center for the shad fishing industry along the Delaware River. Like most northeastern Philadelphia neighborhoods, Fishtown was settled by Swedish immigrants and later developed by the English. Fishtown's shad fishing and fishery heritage are still a huge part of the community, with relics and buildings that date back to the the formerly booming industry in this area. While the shad fishing industry ended in the early 1900s, many fisherman switched to the shipbuilding industry or invested their money into local real estate. In recent years the proposed building of the “SugarHouse Casino” has torn the neighborhood in two. Many residents believe the Casino will generate well-needed revenue for the area, while others see the establishment worsening the already prevalent drug and crime problem within the area. Today Fishtown has worked out an agreement between both parties that would provide a portion of the money generated by the casino towards community projects and other activities that would not be available to residents. The area has seen a recent gentrification, bringing in young and motivated professionals. Still the neighborhood holds on to its roots, with some of its current residents dating their families back five or six generations that have lived in the Fishtown area.
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