Fishtown is a neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.
Located immediately northeast of Center City, its borders are somewhat disputed, but are roughly defined by the triangle created by the Delaware River, Frankford Avenue, and York Street. Some consider it to go all the way up to Lehigh Avenue. Fishtown is actually a subsection of the larger surrounding Kensington neighborhood, as evidenced by early maps of the area. There has never been an official designation of this area as “Fishtown,” but due to locals calling it that, it stuck as a nickname for this section of Kensington. By the 2nd to 3rd quarter of the 20th century, it was no longer being called Kensington. The name of Fishtown is derived for its former role as the center of the fishing industry on the Delaware River. The name comes from the fact that a number of 18th and early 19th century German & German-American families bought up the fishing rights on both sides of the Delaware River from Trenton Falls down to Cape May, NJ. The apocryphal local legend traces the name of Fishtown to Charles Dickens who purportedly visited the neighborhood in March 1842, but records show this to be false, as it was named Fishtown prior to his visiting.
Originally inhabited by members of the Turtle Clan of the Lenni Lenape Indian tribe (named by the Europeans, the Delaware Indian Tribe), the first European settlers were a group of 6 Swedish farming families, later replaced by British landed gentry, then British shipbuilders and German fishermen. Within a few generations there was another influx of German immigrants, then still later in the late 19th century Polish immigrants. Irish Catholics then began pouring into the area to the point where the majority of the people today can trace their ancestry to Irish immigrants. The neighborhood has traditionally been working class and while poverty grew after jobs left in the de-industrialization which afflicted many “rust belt” cities, Fishtown has always maintained itself as stable working-class European ethnic community. Property values have risen rapidly in recent years as the neighborhood has seen an influx of artists and professionals in a wave of gentrification.
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