The neighborhoods currently known as Kensington, Fishtown, and Port Richmond were originally settled by the Leni Lenape tribe and were collectively known as Shackamaxon. In 1682, a head sachem of the Leni Lenape made a peace treaty with William Penn, now commemorated by Penn Treaty Park, thus paving the way for further European settlement and agricultural development.
1800 – 1900
During the industrial revolution, Kensington was rapidly transformed from wide expanses of rich farmland into the industrial heart of America, the “Workshop of the World”. In the early 19th century the diverse industries of Kensington included glass factories, potteries, wagon and machine works, and a chemical factory.
Ultimately the textile industry became the dominant product of the neighborhood by the mid-1800s and Kensington was one of the leading production centers in the nation with 126 textile firms by 1850. In addition to textiles, Kensington had a high percentage of tanneries and leather-working industries, the last of which closed during the late 1950s.
1900 – 2000
De-industrializationand suburbanization took their toll on the neighborhood. Factories were steadily shuttered through the 1960s,1970s, and 1980s. Banks, theaters, and corner stores were left vacant and abandoned homes were leveled. As drugs and crime proliferated, the Kensington area faced dramatic population loss and economic hardship.
2000 – Present
Today most of the landmark industries and factories are gone. However, the neighborhood and some of its landmarks are still there as a witness to the history that took place among them. The overall character of the neighborhood, through all these changes, for nearly twelve generations, has remained an overlay of family, business and community.
East Kensington can claim a unique mix of assets unlike any neighborhood in Philadelphia. The neighborhoods close proximity to the river, interstate access, rich ethnic diversity and the impressive character of the 19th century residential and industrial landscape have made the neighborhood ripe for redevelopment and attractive to new urban homesteaders. East Kensington continues to redefine itself with an influx of new residents and economic investment.
East Kensington is situated directly west of Fishtown and north of Northern Liberties