River Wards: Then and Now, Old and New: New to Fishtown

Sean Gib­bons, who lives on E. Mont­gomery Ave.

Sean Gib­bons and his wife de­cided to move to Fishtown just shy of a year ago be­cause, he said, it was af­ford­able, fairly quiet and safe.

Along with those at­trib­utes, Gib­bons said, “chan­ging” might be the best way to de­scribe the neigh­bor­hood.

“Some people have been here their whole lives, and now there’s a mix of new, artsy, col­lege-edu­cated young people,” he said.

Does he be­lieve, then, that there is a hos­tile di­vi­sion of old and new in the neigh­bor­hood?

“We kind of fo­cus on the di­vi­sions, but it’s kind of over­blown,” he said. “It’s [only] just here and there.”

Mostly, he said, there’s a great sense of pride in the neigh­bor­hood, which can be a double-edged sword.

“I some­times worry that people identi­fy them­selves too much with the neigh­bor­hood,” he said, ex­plain­ing that some might not be aware of the pos­it­ive changes and as­pects of oth­er River Wards neigh­bor­hoods if they don’t ven­ture from their own.

“The same people that made NoLibs up-and-com­ing are mak­ing Fishtown up-and com­ing,” he said.

His block, he said, has its own en­joy­able ec­cent­ri­cit­ies. Hal­loween last year, he said, was a real spec­tacle.

“Hal­loween around here is nuts, I prob­ably gave out 300 pieces of candy,” he said with a smile.

Neigh­bors around Fishtown, Gib­bons said, usu­ally sit in front of their houses, chat­ting with one an­oth­er and keep­ing their eyes on the street.

In the fu­ture, he said he’d like to see Gir­ard Av­en­ue be­come a bet­ter com­mer­cial des­tin­a­tion, and more ac­com­mod­at­ing to ped­es­tri­ans.

What he’d also like to see, he said, is more open space in the neigh­bor­hood.

“I’d like to see ex­ist­ing empty lots filled in one way or an­oth­er,” he said. “Single fam­ily homes fit more of what the neigh­bor­hood is.”

Com­ing up, he and his wife are ex­cited for the Kens­ing­ton Kin­et­ic Sculp­ture Derby, on May 18 this year.

“I haven’t been in town for it be­fore, and this year, we’re hav­ing a party for it.”

Fishtown, he said, is al­ways an ex­cit­ing place.

“It’s a happy me­di­um,” he said. “There’s enough go­ing on [here] that I rarely need to go down­town.” ••

You can reach at mjamison@bsmphilly.com.

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