North Philadelphia is a large area north of Philadelphia's Center City that includes many neighborhoods such as Northern Liberties, Kensington, Fishtown, Fairmount, the Spring Gardens, Templetown, Nicetown, and Tioga. Unfortunately, large swaths known as North Central are plagued by violence though they include some of the city's most interesting residential architecture.
The Art Museum Area is one of the city's fastest growing neighborhoods, rooted by three unique cultural icons. It's more than just museums, though, including the neighborhoods of Franklintown, Spring Garden, Fairmount, and sometimes Francisville. Though it is the seat of one the finest art collections in the world (you must see the Impressionist gallery), it also encompasses the Philadelphia Free Library, the Franklin Institute, the Wine School, the Eastern State Penitentiary (where Al Capone sat idle for many years), and an up-and-coming residential neighborhood that includes galleries, restaurants, and bars just east of the Parkway off of Spring Garden Street and Fairmount Ave. Kelly Drive, the most popular recreational destination in the city with bike and running paths, as well as historic Boathouse Row, begins just behind the art museum.
Northern Liberties (so named because when Philadelphia was founded in 1682, land purchasers there were given a free land bonus in the surrounding rural areas, called the "Liberties") has become a trendy neighborhood in Philadelphia among students, young professionals and artists, is also home to many galleries and shops. NoLib, as its residents call it, is home to artist lofts, architecturally-conscious condo developments, and entertainment from bowling, to restaurants.
The Northern Liberties neighborhood extends approximately from Front Street to 6th Street east-west, and from Spring Garden Street to Girard Avenue north-south. Until about the 1960s, Northern Liberties was home to Philadelphia's breweries: Ortleib's, Schmidt's, and Ballantine. These beers are tougher to find these days, but live on at Citizens Bank Park's (home of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team) Brewerytown stand. It fell into disrepair once the breweries declined.
Today Northern Liberties is an excellent place to spend an evening out, with a large number of unique bars and restaurants well within walking distance.
Fishtown, originally part of the Kensington neighborhood, is rumored to have gotten its name from Charles Dickens from the fish smell (it's on the river). It's also believed that Penn Treaty park is where William Penn actually met with Native Americans. Many artists moved there after Northern Liberties became too expensive. There is an increasing number of galleries, a live music club (Johnny Brenda's), and a somewhat burgeoning commercial strip along Girard Ave east of Front St. It's mainly a rowhouse neighborhood rather than one of lofts, a nice park here is Palmer Park.
Templetown is a neighborhood of Temple University's main campus, one mile north of City Hall and east of Fishtown. Not many locals actually call it "Templetown", but prefer to call it 'near Temple'.
North Philadelphia is readily accessed by Broad Street.
By mass transit
The Broad Street subway line has stations in North Philadelphia. For Templetown, Cecil B. Moore is the safer and more used stop.
SEPTA Regional Rail serves North Philadelphia at Temple University Station (R3 West Trenton, and R5 Rail lines)
- 1 Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Ave (at 21st St. Accessible by subway (Fairmount stop) as well as the 33 or 48 bus from Center City.), ☏ . 10AM-5PM daily; haunted house: see website. A former prison and National Historic Landmark, which once housed notorious criminals like bank robber Willie Sutton and Al Capone (the former tunneled out), and drew famous visitors like Charles Dickens and Alexis de Tocqueville. It was a progressive institution upon its founding, dedicated to reform, rather than punishment, and the principal new method used to enable the reform process (dubbed the Pennsylvania System) was to keep prisoners in separate confinement (it was then debated whether this would help lead to reform or to mental illness). Today it is open for guided tours by day, and by night around the month of October turns into what has got to be one of the country's most terrifying haunted houses! Children below the age of seven are not permitted to visit, and it's strongly recommended that no children under thirteen attend the haunted house. $12 adults, $10 seniors, $8 students/children.
- 2 Wagner Free Institute of Science, 1700 W Montgomery Ave, ☏ . Tu-F 9AM-4PM. The Wagner Institute’s nineteenth century exhibit hall – a soaring three-story space – houses an extraordinary collection of natural history specimens including mounted birds and mammals, fossils, rocks and minerals, insects, shells, dinosaur bones, and the first American saber-toothed tiger, discovered on a museum-sponsored expedition to Florida in 1886. Gathered largely by founder William Wagner and Institute curators and faculty during the nineteenth century, the collections are displayed in cherry-wood and glass cabinets dating from the 1880s and maintain their original “systematic” scheme, providing a rare view of a Victorian science museum. Highlights include William Wagner’s personal mineral collection – one of the oldest in the country – and his fossil collection, representing many important European and American localities and collecting sites of the nineteenth century. The mounted skeletons, skulls and skins represent species from around the globe, including many that are now endangered. The extensive regional entomology collection is notable for its arrangement, which includes the original handwritten curator’s labels. Originally assembled to teach science, the specimens are arranged for study. The exhibit is one of the largest systematically arranged collections on display in the country and remains in active use as a key educational tool of the Institute’s free science programs. It also serves as a resource for scholarly research. Admission to all education programs is free of charge. A donation of $8 is suggested for museum visitors. Guided tours are $15 for adults, $10 for members of the Institute and senior citizens, and $5 for children. Call for group rates.
- 3 Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse, 3500 Reservoir Drive, East Fairmount Park Philadelphia, PA 19121-1095 (Smith is located in East Fairmount Park just above Kelly Drive near 33rd and Oxford Streets. There is free parking on site and Smith is also easily accessible by public transportation.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Playground Hours (for children 10 and younger) April 1–September 30 Tue–Fri 10am–6pm, Sat-Sun 10am-7pm; October 1–December 31 Sat–Sun 10am–4pm. Playhouse Hours (for children 5 and younger) April 1–September 30 Tue–Fri 10am–4pm, Sat–Sun 10am–7pm; October 1–March 31 Tue–Sun 10am–4pm. Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse opened its doors in East Fairmount Park in 1899. Funded by Richard and Sarah Smith, the site was dedicated to the memory of their adult son, Stanfield. Smith’s beautiful, 16,000 square foot Playhouse was designed solely as a play space for children by one of Philadelphia’s most prominent late 19th century architects, James H. Windrim. The Playground is situated on its original historic landscape – 6 1/2 acres of open fields, wooded terrain, and sloped hills – and is home to the century old Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide, a treasured play experience for generations of Philadelphia’s children, as well as other unique pieces of play equipment. Smith strives to be Philadelphia’s foremost resource for play by providing opportunities for unstructured creative play for children 10 and younger. Smith contributes to the development of healthy children, strong families, and safe communities by: 1) maintaining a proud tradition of free family admission; 2) partnering with community-based organizations to reach a diverse audience; and 3) advocating for the importance of play.
- 4 Penn Treaty Park (located at Delaware and Columbia Aves. in a neighborhood known as Fishtown). A small riverfront park where, in 1683, William Penn famously entered into a treaty of peace with Tamanend, the Lenape Indian chief. Penn Treaty Park is popular for its view of the Delaware River and Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and it hosts many events throughout the year. It is home to an Obelisk of the Treaty Ground erected in 1827, William Penn Statue unveiled 1982, and Bob Haozous' Penn Treaty sculpture placed in 1991.
- 5 Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, 532 N 7th St (at Spring Garden St), ☏ . W-Su 9AM-5PM. A bit of a hike from the other attractions in Independence National Historic Park is the house where Edgar Allen Poe, author of "The Raven" and "The Tell-Tale Heart," lived and wrote. Poe fans will find many activities to enjoy, including a video presentation of Poe's life, ranger-led tours, and perhaps an encounter with "Poe" himself. Free.
Temple University is a large, urban comprehensive research university located on Broad Street, in the center of North Philadelphia.
Theater and music
- 2 The Electric Factory, 421 N 7th St. The Electric Factory is one of the leading indoor music venues and is Philadelphia's most celebrated location for live music.
- Walking Fish Theatre, 2509 Frankford Ave (Fishtown), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This theater offers acting classes, workshops, shows, and hires interns from local performing arts high schools. The website for the Walking Fish has a calendar of events, a donation link, as well as a link for renting out the venue.
- 3 IBC Fitness Center (At the corner of 15th St and Cecil B. Moore, across from the parking garage). Offers fitness equipment such as bench presses, treadmills, let-workout machines, and others. It also offers an indoor track, an indoor racquetball court, and table tennis. Open to holders of a Temple University ID card. Entrance fee of $12/day for others..
- 4 Student Pavilion, 1901 N 15th st (across from the Turf Complex). Offers recreational sports such as basketball, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, tennis (it offers 6 outdoors Tennis Courts), indoor golf range, and football. Equipment for all of the sports can be rented at the front office but only with a Temple ID card. Every Friday the Pavilion also hosts Net Night (only Badminton, Volleyball, Table Tennis, and Tennis is offered) from 7PM to 10PM, tournaments in those sports are sometimes held with prizes. Open to holders of a Temple University ID card. Entrance fee of $12/day for others..
- 5 Student Activity Center (SAC), 1755 N 13th Street. The center for all of Temple University student organizations. It offers a food court that contains various forms of dining choices from Italian pizza, Asian cuisine, and a Burger King. It also offers a Game Room where a Temple ID card is not necessarily needed. It offers table tennis, billiards, air hockey, foosball, and chess. You need to pay an hourly fee in order to rent the table tennis, billiards, and air hockey equipments. The SAC also has an underground movie theater (the "Reel" Cinema) and an underground night club ("The Underground").
- 6 Liacouras Center, 1776 N Broad St. A 10,200 seat multi purpose venue. Home to all of the Temple University basketball, as well as many other events such as concerts, plays, famous guest speakers.
- 7 Pearl Theatre.
Temple University also offers art and culture entertainment buy holding free Classical music concerts, art galleries, and student theatre productions. The concerts are usually located in Rock Hall and you can find a schedule on the Easter Boyer College of Music and Dance website. For the art galleries you can find information about them on the Tyler School of Art website.
- 1 The Avenue (Along the 1600 block of Broad St). Contains shops such as an Footlocker, Dollar Store, and various clothing stores. It also has many eateries such as Qdoba Mexican Grill, the Noshery Sandwich place, and the popular Koja Korean Japanese restaurant. It also has the Pearl theatre where you could go to watch the recent cinematic releases.
- 2 Temple Bookstore (In the lower level of the Student Activity Center). Sells Temple University Gear (hoodies, shirts, keychains, pants, and shorts) as well as textbooks, school supplies, and snacks.
- China Star
- Draught Horse
- El Greco's
- El Rincon
- Explorers Den
- Isla Verde
- Koja Grill
- Lion King
- Paganos Steak and Hoagies
- Ron's Caribbean Cafe
- Taco Rieendo
- Tierra Columbiana
- Two Brother's Pizza
- Wong's Gourmet
- The Silk City Diner, Lounge, and Beer Garden, 435 Spring Garden St. The diner which has been around since 1952 was featured on the Food Network’s "Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives." If your looking for a late night snack they have you covered, with pork belly empanadas or cilantro spiced fried calamari. After you are filled up, head over to the lounge and dance the night away.
Art Museum area
The food scene in the Art Museum Area is diverse, from Greek to Moroccan to Northern Italian to English-style pub food. The best bets are grabbing a bottle of wine and making a reservation at one of the neighborrhood's BYOBs.
- 1 North Third, 801 N 3rd St, ☏ . A perfect balance of restaurant, outdoor cafe and pub, spacious, lively, not too loud. All kinds of beer: Big Belgian bottles.Great Food: Pierogies, Spring Rolls, Salads, Wings, burgers, etc.- a cut above your everyday bar food)
- 2 Soy Cafe, 630 N 2nd St, ☏ . Coffee, tea, smoothies, and sandwiches, with a focus on soy milk and other Asian foods
- 3 Higher Grounds Cafe, 631 N 3rd St, ☏ . This cafe has a pretty decent selection of coffees and teas, as well as a select of stuff to eat. They make sandwiches, salads, quiche, granola, bagels with a variety of spreads, and have some pretty good looking desserts too.
- 4 Honey's Sit 'n Eat, 800 N 4th St, ☏ . A fun, eclectic cafe in Northern liberties that serves a funky mix of Jewish and Southern food. It has tons of fun, delicious breakfast and brunch options, and the latkes are definitely worth getting. All the eggs they use are free-range, and they make an effort to use as much local produce as possible.
- 5 The Abbaye, 637 N 3rd St (at Fairmount), ☏ . M-F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa-Su 10AM-2PM (kitchen closes at 11PM Su-W and midnight Th-Sa). Neighborhood tavern with rotating tap beers, a full bar, brunch, and burgers.
- The Owl's Nest Pizza
- The SAC
- Ali's Middle Eastern
- China House
- Richie's Deli
There are various spots in Templetown where you could go to eat. One of them would be the food courts along 12th or along the Anderson Building. It contains many delicious eateries such as the Ali's Middle Eastern, Richie's Deli, and the Oriental Express. Another spot would be along Montgomery Street right along the SAC building. It offers Eddie's, Eppy's, and a Korean Japanese food truck. There is also a purple truck that is home to Insomnia Cookies, a late night cookie and milk delivery service for those students who are real night owls.
- 6 Lee's Hoagie House at Temple University, 1420 Cecil B. Moore Avenue, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 10AM - 12AM, 7 days a week. Serves hoagies, steaks, chicken steaks, buffalo wings, etc. The Templetown location is newly opened in 2016 and marks Lee's first return to Philadelphia proper in years. $5 and up.
Art Museum area
The bars are clustered around the intersection of 24th and Fairmount Avenue, and largely favor micro-brews over cocktails.
- Wine School of Philadelphia - The first such school of its kind in Philadelphia, it is located less than a block away from Eastern State Penitentiary. In 2008, the school earned a coveted "Best of Philly" Award. The Wine School offers wine tastings, wine courses, and private events.
- 700 Club, 700 N 2nd St (at Fairmount Ave), ☏ . M-Sa 4PM-2AM, Su 1PM-2AM. Youngish hipster crowd in a gutted rowhouse. Always live on weekends with dancing upstairs.
- The Barbary, 951 N Frankford Ave (at Delaware Ave). Varied DJ nights all week, including nights for karaoke, indie dancing (tigerbeats), electronica, and 80s music. Cheap beer; hipster night spot.
- Finnigan's Wake, 537 N 3rd St (at Spring Garden St), ☏ . 11AM-2AM daily. Large Irish drinking and dancing spot, bordering on nightclub in scale.
- North Third, 801 N 3rd St (at Brown St), ☏ . M-Tu 4PM-1AM, W-F 4PM-2AM, Sa-Su 10:30AM-2AM. Good crowd, usually mid 20s & up. Good music and sidewalk seating.
- Standard Tap, 901 N 2nd St (at Poplar St), ☏ . M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa-Su 11AM-2AM.
- The Cherry Pit
- The Draughthorse
- 1 Conwell Inn, 1331 Polett Walk. It is a three story 22 room hotel with a computer work station. Each room comes with a coffee maker and wireless high speed Internet and satellite television. It also offers continental breakfast with waffles imprinted with a big T for Temple University.
North Philadelphia is by a large margin the most dangerous neighborhood in the city, and has often been ranked as one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the entire USA. Murders and crime are often associated with gang violence and drugs. It is not wise to venture off major streets. The area around Temple University is very dangerous. If you do travel through the area, stick to a major thoroughfare like Broad Street. It is also unwise to be in this neighborhood after sun down. Northern Liberties is also known to be high in crime often from robbery by gun point. Criminals are known to target drunk students and residents. The Philadelphia Police Department acknowledges Interstate 95 is a major access route directly into and out of the neighborhood, making way for easy strikes.
|Routes through North Philadelphia (by subway)|
|END ← Northwest Philadelphia ←||N S||→ Center City West/Center City East → South Philadelphia|
|Upper Darby ← Old City ←||SW NE||→ Northeast Philadelphia → END|
|Routes through North Philadelphia (by commuter rail)|
|END ←||N S||→ Center City East → Philadelphia International Airport|
|END ← Northwest Philadelphia ←||NW SE||→ Center City East → West Philadelphia|
|Northwest Philadelphia ← Center City East ←||NW SE||→ END|
|West Philadelphia ← Center City East ←||SW NE||→ Northwest Philadelphia → Northeast Philadelphia|
|Norristown ← Northwest Philadelphia ←||NW SE||→ Center City East → West Philadelphia|