Exploring Northeast neighborhoods and their nicknames

Ever hear of Grubtown? How about Comlyville or Harrisburg, Philadelphia?

All three are former names and nicknames for pockets of Northeast Philadelphia, and they’re included in the city’s database of Neighborhoods and Place Names.

The database is mentioned in a piece published by the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia about the city’s reputation for being a “city of neighborhoods.”

Grubtown, by the way, was a nickname for Crescentville in 1843. Comlyville refers to a powder magazine site near the Frankford Creek. And Harrisburg was the name given to the area between Welsh and Ashton roads in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as freed slaves settled there.

As far back as 1976, Philadelphia was referring to itself as a city of neighborhoods, and likely has more to do with residents’ strong neighborhood identities than the actual number of neighborhoods.

One key point worth noting in the Encyclopedia piece: “The distinction of being Philadelphia’s oldest continuously occupied neighborhood belongs to Tacony, with records of residents dating from a decade prior to William Penn’s arrival.”



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