Are we crazy or does there seem to be a new Philadelphia neighborhood named every month? It is usually the location of a “hot” new restaurant or the “cool” place to live.
Our Video Producer, Nick Murphy, just recently learned that his area of South Philly is called Newbold, it’s between East Passyunk and Girard Estates. Kinda. Apparently the residents who created the area in 2003 dispute the boundaries.
Some of the newer places are named by local civic associations, but the most well known areas of our historic city generated their names from significant events. Mental Floss put together a list of these stories – turns out Nicetown has nothing to do with being nice and Manayunk was not named for its plethora of bars. Here are a few:
Fox Chase – named for a local inn that was built in 1705. It was a destination for wealthy colonists who enjoyed the recreational pastimes of their homeland, such as fox hunting.
University City – When this formerly bucolic area of West Philadelphia went on the decline during the rapid expansion of the city in the first half of the 20th century, officials from the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel came up with a revitalization plan that included referring to the area as University City.
Northern Liberties – According to the colonial land policy of William Penn, those who purchased large tracts of land in Philadelphia got a bonus of free “liberty lands” in the surrounding rural areas. The “Northern Liberties,” now home to some of the city’s most happening spots, are no longer rural in the slightest.
Bridesburg – originally called Point No Point because, as you approached it from the Delaware River, it first looked like a point, and then didn’t. After the Revolution, it was named for Joseph Kirkbride, the largest landholder there at the time. But people eventually decided Kirkbridesburg was too long to say, so it became Bridesburg.
Rittenhouse Square – In 1825 the Center City green space known as Southwest Square was renamed Rittenhouse Square for David Rittenhouse—inventor, scientist, mathematician, member of the American Philosophical Society and the Royal Society of London, and first director of the U.S. Mint.
We discussed this list all morning long. Steve of course made hilarious guesses about most of the towns before Preston revealed the real stories. Give a listen below (:44 mins in, then again around 1:00 and finished it up around 1:54)
Check out the complete list on MentalFloss.com