Manayunk is located on the northeast banks of the Schuylkill River, about 10 miles upstream of Center City Philadelphia.
Much of the neighborhood's history revolves around the initial development and subsequent enlargement of the Manayunk Canal, which runs parallel to the Schuylkill. Merely a dream of the
Schuylkill Navigation Company in 1815, the Manayunk section of the canal opened just three years later, and the entire canal was completed in 1823.
The canal began to see great prosperity through the 1830s and 1840s. Originally a separate settlement, Manayunk was annexed by the city, along with Roxborough, in 1854. (It is now one
of the most northwesterly neighborhoods within city limits.) Througout the 1800s, the canal provided an endless supply of power for mills and other industry. It's use reached an
all-time high late 1850s, allowing it to become one of the world's leading textile production areas.
In 2006, Manayunk is a very different place. Main Street features high-end retail, restaurants, and bars, leading to the street having been referred to as the "Yuppie South Street." The
bar scene along Main Street has such life that the Indian meaning of the word Manayunk - "Our Place for Drinking" - shows that they may have been somewhat clairvoyant. But although Main
Street dominates the neighborhood's reputation, in truth Manayunk strikes an interesting balance between trendy and middle-class. Manayunk is no longer an industrial powerhouse - it's
just another one of Philadelphia's beautiful urban neighborhoods.
I'm pleased to present my second Neighborhood Tour for PhillySkyline.com: MANAYUNK.
- Matthew Johnson, SkyscraperSunset.com