Welcome to my ‘hood.
To give the briefest of summaries about HOW I ended up here: Manayunk was recommended to me as a good place to stay during my internship before I set foot on American soil. An out-going intern described it to me as slightly more expensive than her neighbourhood (Ardmore), but that it was closer to Center City, and filled with a lot more interesting bars/restaurants/nightlife. When I came over, I met another intern just about to leave the country; she offered me her lease in a Manayunk. Guess what? I accepted.
My first impression of Manayunk was incredibly positive: I’d come from a month in King of Prussia, PA at Kingswood Apartments. So, while that had been convenient to reach work, the gigantic King of Prussia shopping mall, and the on-site swimming pool…well, the area was soulless. Retail park as far as the eye could see: welcome to America, folks. Thus I was keen to get back to the kind of quirky, studenty…characterful areas I adored back in Edinburgh. (Manayunk is the nearest equivalent to Marchmont or Bruntsfield back in Edinburgh)
Manayunk is approximately 6 miles from central Philadelphia (by bike, at least…), and 2.5miles from the Philadelphia/Montegomery County line. In its current form, it’s “signatures” amongst the city residents include:
(a) It is a studenty, happening, “hip” place.
(b) It’s on a hill. The 12% gradient from Main Street up to The Ridge (where Manayunk ends) is known on the Green Lane Rd as “the Wall” and is so hideously steep that bikers flock from miles around to ascend it. For this reason Manayunk has a large biking community and plays an important part in Philly bike races.
(c) It has lots of upmarket restaurants, bars, boutiques and shops on Main St.
From a historical perspective, Manayunk is on the rise. It used to be an industrial centre, complete with a canal and watermills; when water-powered industry fell into decline, Manayunk needed to reinvent itself. In living memory it has gone from a working-class neighbourhood where all the homeowners had lived in their houses since they were born, to a fashionable student location where most inhabitants of my street are renters.