Barbara Geiger, who lives on N. Randolph St.
Barbara Geiger grew up in Northern Liberties when it was a bit like a mini-Ukraine.
“Growing up, this block was mostly Ukrainian,” she said of her N. Randolph St. home, where she’s lived since 1965.
“There were 12 of us kids total, and only four were American,” she said. “We just played on this street all day long, until the street lights came on.”
Back then, she said, she and her friend would walk up and down Girard Avenue, people watching and going in and out of comic book and candy stores.
“It wasn’t like it is today. Now, there’s a lot of empty buildings,” she said.
Still, the new development in Northern Liberties, like the Piazza at Schmidt’s and many other businesses and residences, has given the neighborhood a new identity.
“Now, it’s like the new South Street, the ‘place to go,’” she said. It’s a community identity Geiger said was a little tough to get used to.
“I’ve been to the Piazza, to Darling’s Diner, to Standard Tap and North Bowl,” she said. “I kind of feel like I don’t belong. Everyone there is so young. It’s a different world, a different place. I think, ‘I didn’t grow up here.’”
Though it’s different, she said, “I like the way the neighborhood has evolved. The neighborhood has gotten better, there’s more people, more things to do.”
Now, Geiger said, the “con” of the neighborhood is the overwhelming residential development.
“Within half a block, you have three communities of houses, but they are going up real fast, they have no character, they are cookie-cutter,” she said.
“As a parent, I don’t see anything here for children, no playground or recreation center or basketball court.”
As far as her neighbors, Geiger said, she gets along well with many of the new, younger residents.
“I feel the hip and trendy vibe of this neighborhood,” she said. I like interacting with people here.”
Now, the fifth generation of the Geiger family is living in the house, and signs of her long-gone family members are everywhere.
“My great-grandfather put this wallpaper up,” she said, gesturing to the walls of her living room. “This house, here, this is just…this is home.” ••