ZIP Photo Essay: College Kids, Main Street, and Everyday Life in Manayunk, 19127

View of Manayunk

I, like many people, immediately think of drunken college kids when I think of Manayunk. Students from La Salle University, Saint Joseph’s, and other neighboring colleges make up almost 20% of the neighborhood’s population. Of course, there are also scores of young professionals and families who have moved to the area over the past few decades. There are also still remnants of the working class community that historically occupied this northwest section of Philadelphia.

As a photojournalist, I also know the area as a “go to” spot to shoot flood shots anytime there is hurricane or tornado weather. Main Street always floods in heavy rains. It is both next to the river and at the bottom of the hills. So when I set out to interview residents about 19127, I decided to dig a bit deeper. In this fast developing neighborhood, there are still some great views and very interesting people.

Sharon Mossly
Owner of A List Productions

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I’ve lived here for going on 11 years. I think this neighborhood’s identity is mainly the college kids. If it wasn’t for them I think a lot of these places would go out of business. The effects they’ve had on the residential neighborhoods have been a lot of problems in the past. They were peeing on shrubs and throwing up a lot because they’re known for getting very drunk and they’ve had to pass all kinds of ordinances to keep them from doing that. When I first moved here, whenever I walked home I’d have to go up to Shurs Lane and there’d be silo cups the whole way up and vomit and that’s changed significantly. I don’t see that anymore.

My biggest concern is having proper restaurants, proper boutiques. I’d like to see more of those here. The problem with this area is they don’t get a lot of walk-in traffic with people that would be able to afford the prices. So a lot of businesses that try to come here and do that go out of business within 5 months to a year. However, you’ve got some great thrift shops here that are thriving.

I would like Main Street here to become more like Walnut Street where you have a diverse amount of shops and more of a variety of people from different ethnic backgrounds and more events. We really kind of focus on the shot and the beer and bars more so than having decent restaurants. I’d like to see more of that.

Leo Dillinger
Membership and Communications Coordinator at the Manayunk Development Corporation

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Manayunk offers the best of both worlds – the urban experience and the small time charm. We are located in-between Center City and the suburbs. Hand-in-hand with that, people aren’t exactly sure what we are. People in Center City think of us as the suburbs and meanwhile people in the suburbs think of it as part of Philadelphia. I think it’s a matter of letting everyone know that there is a something here for everyone.

It’s not just college kids. I mean, they are a part of the community. So it is really about getting them to realize this is their community here too. We would love to see them stay here after they graduate and raise a family here. There is a lot of potential for them to seize this community as part of their own, but it’s a matter of educating them to learn that it’s not just a place to get drunk.

Connie Henkel
Works at Henkel Roofing

They are putting up houses everywhere. They’re crowding everyone in. It’s over populated I think. Manayunk is a big place. Main Street is a big attraction for everyone – the food, the clothes, everybody wants to be down here. I do like that, the food and everything. And it is a close-knit neighborhood too.

I’ve lived here for 23 years. Little Cresson Street is a street off the beaten path. You’ll never find it. It is on the other side of the tracks. There is only one way in and one way out. This street is a mess. It has never been paved in 23 years. We’ve gotten in touch with the Mayor’s office, but the residents are the only ones that take care of it. We fill in the potholes ourselves. We pay taxes and we get our trashed picked up, but the city says it belongs to SEPTA and SEPTA says it belongs to the city.

It is a vicious paradox, it really is.

Lou Tallarico
Owner of barbershop

My parents came from Sicily Italy in 1928. My parents were first generation from Italy and I’m second generation from Manayunk, and I’m glad to be here. I’m 81 and I was born here in this building.

It’s quiet, there’s no ghetto and people are nice. I have no real concerns. It’s going forward too fast and there’s going to be more traffic than necessary. That is a concern to everyone because you can’t get to and from without going through a lot of traffic in the early morning and late evening when people are going back and forth to work. There should be a cop at the corner of Main and Green Lane. I love the students. I was a student once, but I’m not as fast as they are today. I was slower. I got old too soon and smart too late.

Alexandra Von Ohlen

I’m in Pretzel Park in 19127 playing fetch with my dog and my boyfriend’s dog. I’ve only lived here since May. I love it!

I’m originally from Austin, Texas so it reminds me a lot of home. The people are really nice. It’s a close knit community. There are people who have lived here for a really, really long time and its cool to hear them tell their stories. The people who have lived here for a long time and the college students who cycle in and out, it’s a little strange to see the different generations come together in a kind of conglomerate, but it’s really cool.

My biggest concern is the growth. There is a lot of construction going on. A lot of new condos. It is raising the prices of property taxes and property in general and I’m a little worried. Obviously gentrification is happening and that really sucks. It sucks to see the multi-cultural aspect of this neighborhood decrease and the rich white people increase.

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