Art Museum Neighborhood

Art Museum NeighborhoodThe “Art Museum Neighborhood” is a general name used to describe the area occupied by multiple neighborhoods in close proximity to the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art. Among these neighborhoods are Fairmount and Spring Garden. Two other neighborhoods that have seen significant recent improvements in their overall condition and are in relative proximity to the Art Musuem, Francisville and Brewerytown, have begun to be grouped with the traditional Art Museum neighborhoods. Known locally as simply the “art museum,” the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the United States.

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s version of the Champs Elysees, provides a wide thoroughfare from the vicinity of City Hall, all the way to the bottom of the Art Museum steps made famous by the fictional character Rocky Balboa. Along the Parkway, and in the vicinity of where it morphs into Kelly Drive, there are a number of high rise apartment and condominium buildings that provide stunning views of the museum and the Schuylkill River. These buildings also provide residents with a desirable location on the edge of Fairmount Park.

Immediately adjacent to the Art Museum, on its north side, is the Fairmount neighborhood. The boundaries of Fairmount are commonly considered to be Fairmount Avenue to the south, Poplar Avenue to the north, the Schuylkill River to the west, and 19th Street to the east. Originally intended as the site of William Penn’s manor house, Fairmount evolved into a mixed use neighborhood in the 19th century with row houses occupied by working class families interspersed with iron foundries, coal yards and stables. Fairmount remained true to its working class roots through much of the 20th century. But with the onset of the 1990s, the neighborhood’s prime location spurred the interest of developers and home buyers looking to take advantage of its proximity to Center City, the Art Museum, and Fairmount Park. For that reason, as well as the presence of many fine eating and drinking establishments in the neighborhood, Fairmount remains a popular neighborhood for Center City denizens.

Like Fairmount to the north, Spring Garden is another neighborhood commonly considered part of Art Museum area. Spring Garden is comprised of many large houses dating from the 1840s. These homes were originally built for the managers of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, other professionals, and brewery owners. These large row homes, that today exist as single-family homes, multi-unit condominiums, and apartment buildings, are interspersed with more contemporary row homes. The area has seen an uptick in commercial activity recently, with the arrival of an organic supermarket and other smaller enterprises.

While not traditionally considered part of the Art Museum neighborhood, two other areas, Francisville and Brewerytown have begun to grouped with Fairmount and Spring Garden when describing the larger Art Museum area. Francisville is located to the east of the Fairmount neighborhood, existing between Broad and 19th Streets and Spring Garden Street and Fairmount Avenue. Francisville was often overlooked in the wave of development, improvement and gentrification that swept many areas of the city. But recently, it has been the beneficiary of significant public and private investment that has resulted in vast improvements in both the quality of life in the neighborhood and the neighborhood’s housing stock.

Brewerytown, like Francisville, has been a recent beneficiary of the surge in development in Philadelphia that continues unabated despite the greater economic downturn. The name “Brewerytown” is an unofficial name used to designate an area between the Schuylkill River and 23rd Street and Poplar and Oxford Streets. It was an area where companies such as the F.A. Poth Brewing Company were headquyartered. While residential development in the neighborhood has outpaced commercial development (largely thanks to the BrewerytownSquare project), an increase in commercial activity along Girard Avenue has begun and is certain to continue.