The area was settled principally due to its connection with the river, and grew because of the proximity of the city of Philadelphia to the south. Located northeast of Center City it is nestled at the bend of the Delaware River to the east. The neighborhood was once known for the fishing industry for which it is named.
Since the colonial era, Fishtown has been a place of productive ingenuity and grew from a sleepy fishing village to an industrial powerhouse. This history was written by generations of working-class residents employed by local industries. Much like its social fabric, Fishtown’s built environment has adapted and survived largely intact despite the enormous pressures of change.
Fishtown’s roads are canted toward the river, as opposed to aligning with the Center City grid system. Despite strong connections to the rest of the region through good public transit, difficult neighborhood street traffic patterns still act to insulate the neighborhood.
While the community has traditionally been working class, with modest to low incomes and limited education, newer residents tend to be young professionals with college backgrounds.
Fishtown’s strength stems from the community’s pride and their sense of ownership. In the truest sense of the word, Fishtown is a neighborhood. It is common for families to remain in Fishtown for generations. The neighborhood’s living history is rooted in its strong sense of community, its connection to the Delaware River, and the integrity of its built heritage.
Though Fishtown has weathered enormous change, the place has retained its distinct identity. Fishtown’s self-sufficiency, physical geography and persistent social networks make the community unique and resilient, rich in historic meaning, as well as a functioning place.
Fishtown is bound by York Street to the North, Frankford Avenue to the West and the Delaware River to the East.