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Kensington, PA, Through the Centuries

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The sexual assault attorneys of Kensington are happy to bring residents and visitors the following informative article about the neighborhood. Discover the history of the area and more.

History of Kensington

Kensington is a neighborhood within Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was founded in the early 1730s by Anthony Palmer when he used the money he got from the sale of the Hope Farm estate in present day Port Richmond to buy the Fairman Estate in the Northern Liberties Township. Consisted of 191,5 acres of land, it was situated along the Delaware River.

Palmer began to lay out his town and sold parcels of it to shipwrights and shipbuildings who were outgrowing their riverfront lots and to German fishermen immigrants. Today, the original area of Kensington is known as "Fishtown." Traditionally a working class center for fishermen and ship and boat builders, it transitioned to iron and steel manufacturing in the early 1800s. By the mid-1800s, the neighborhood was one of the leading centers of the textile industry. However, this sadly ended when deindustrialization took place in the mid-1950s. The neighborhood suffered from high unemployment, economic decline, a loss in population and abandoned homes. In recent years, attempts to revitalize the neighborhood has been underway in some sections.

Traditionally, Kensington was known for its large working Irish Catholic community. As of the census of 2010, the neighborhood has been more ethnically diverse. It is racially made up of 38.9% Hispanic of Any Race, 37.4% White, 14.8% Black, 6.2% Asian, and 2.7% Others. The neighborhood is geographically located near Fairhill, Norris Square, Olde Kensington, Olde Richmond, Port Richmond, Frankford, Juniata and Feltonville.

Historic Sites

There are a number of establishments that are historically significant to the neighborhood of Kensington. They include:

  • The 26th District Police and Patrol Station
  • Philips H. Sheridan School
  • Kensington High School for Girls
  • Beatty's Mills Factory Building
  • H.W. Butterworth and Sons Company Building

These historic sites have been added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Those that have not been added to the NRHP but has been listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places are Clifton Mills and its building 4, the Columbia Works, the Decorating Plant of Gillinder & Sons' Franklin Flint Glass Works, Frankford Avenue Baptist Church, Harbisons' Dairies, Kensington Hospital for Women, Peter Woll & Sons, Curled Hair & bristles, Second Associate Presbyterian Church, The Star Carpet Mills, and Weisbrod & Hess' Loading Room, Condenser & Storage/Boiler & Wash House.

McPherson Square

McPherson Square, or known as Needle Park, was once home to a large population of squatters and heroin addicts. It was littered with bodies and needles for over 30 years. However, efforts have been made in recent years to clean up the park and make it a safe place for children to play. Today, the park is "their" – the children's – park and features a playground, slides, monkey bars, five acres of open green space, and paved walking paths. Children and older residents love coming to the park to have fun, relax and spend time together.

McPherson Square Library

Situated in the center of the park is the McPherson Square Library. The historic estate is a free library that was established as part of the City of Philadelphia's rebuild project. It provides the community with a public computing center, meeting space and high-speed wireless internet access, along with free books. The library is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Our Local Office

Are you a survivor of sexual assault? Are you ready to come forward and hold your offender accountable for their actions? Contact our Kensington sexual assault lawyers to get started in taking legal action against your predator. Our consultations are free of charge.

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