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Germantown Neighborhood of Philadelphia

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The Germantown area of Philadelphia is one of Philadelphia's oldest settlements. It was originally settled by Mennonite and Quaker German speaking émigrés from Holland, Germany and Switzerland attracted to Philadelphia by William Penn's promises of religious tolerance.

When Philadelphia was occupied by the British during the American Revolutionary War, several units were housed in Germantown. In the Battle of Germantown, in 1777, the Continental Army attacked these British units. While the Americans sustained heavy losses, the fervor of the Americans helped influence the French to recognize the new American nation.

President George Washington rented the Deshler-Morris House in Germantown to escape the central city and the yellow fever epidemic of 1793. The first bank of the United States was also located in Germantown during his administration. Germantown is home to many of the city's historic 18th and 19th century homes originally built as suburban retreats for rich Philadelphians.

In the early 1800's Germantown grew as a manufacturing center of the region. It was officially incorporated into the City of Philadelphia in 1854.

Beginning in the 1930's Germantown began to see signs of urban blight and decay. Once a middle and upper class white community, Germantown saw an influx of poorer African Americans moving to the city from the south seeking employment. By the 1950's Germantown had seen a large exodus of its middle class, primarily German descendant residents for the Philadelphia suburbs. The area's historic sites, however, are well maintained.
Location:

Germantown today consists of both Germantown (west of Germantown Ave.) and East Germantown (east of Germantown). This incorporates much of the original areas of Upper Germantown and Lower Germantown.

Germantown stretches for about two miles along both sides of Germantown Avenue from the Tioga/Nicetown sections of Philadelphia, at Windrim Avenue and SEPTA's Wayne Junction northwest, to Upsal Street and the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Zip Code

The majority of Germantown rests within the 19144 zip code.
Getting There:

Germantown is serviced by a number of SEPTA bus routes: 23, 26, 53, 65, H and XH, J, and K. It is also serviced by the following SEPTA Regional Rail Lines: R7 Chestnut Hill East and the R8 Chestnut Hill West.

Demographics

According to 2000 U.S. Census data, Germantown's population of 50,614 is 86% Black or African American, 10% white, 1.5% Hispanic and 2.5% other or mixed race. Almost 25% of Germantown residents live below the federal poverty level.

About 40% of the residents reside in owner-occupied housing units and 60% in renter occupied housing units.

The median household income is $29,066.

Education:

Germantown is home to numerous public, private and parochial schools.

Germantown is located within the School District of Philadelphia's Northwest Region. The School District maintains an excellent index of all schools in this region. These include both the Roosevelt Middle School and Germantown High School.

Many Germantown students attend one of the over 60 charter schools operating in the City of Philadelphia.

Private Schools:

Germantown Friends School K-12

Greene Street Friends School PK-8

Growing Light Day School KG-5

High Street Christian Academy PK-6

Pennsylvania School for the Deaf ungraded

St. Martin De Porres School 1-8

William Penn Charter School K-12

Recreation

Awbury Arboretum
Awbury Arboretum has 57 acres of gardens, lawns, and woodlands designed along the English landscape model. There are numerous educational programs for children.

Germantown Cricket Club
The Germantown Cricket Club, founded in 1854, is a unique country club that boasts many activities including tennis, squash, swimming, bowling, cricket and fitness; all situated on 14 beautifully landscaped acres in historic Germantown.

Wissahickon Valley
The 1,800 acres of Wissahickon Valley Park are part of Philadelphia’s 9,200-acre Fairmount Park, one of the largest city parks in the world. Wissahickon Valley has great hiking and nature walks in the only urban Alpine-type valley in the world. Trail maps and information available by calling 215-247-0417.

Notable Historic Sites:

Cliveden
The Battle of Germantown occurred at Cliveden, the country home of Pennsylvania Chief Justice Benjamin Chew, on October 4, 1777. A British regiment occupied Cliveden and defended it from full assault by the colonials.

Deshler-Morris House
The oldest official presidential residence, the Germantown White House, twice sheltered George Washington. In October 1793, he found refuge during the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia. Continuing the business of government, he held four cabinet meetings here. The next summer, it was a welcome retreat for him and his family near Philadelphia, the Federal Capital.

Ebeneezer Maxwell Mansion
Built a century after the Revolution in 1859, the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion contains a museum and is surrounded by gardens. It is one of many striking and well-preserved Victorian homes in the Tulpehocken Station Historic District.

Grumblethorpe
Grumblethorpe, the summer residence built in 1744 by John Wister, is a prime example of the domestic Germantown architecture of the period. The Wister family took refuge here from the yellow fever epidemic of 1793.

Johnson House
http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/underground/pa6.htm The Johnson House, a National Historic Landmark, is significant for its role in the antislavery movement and the Underground Railroad.

1770 Mennonite Meetinghouse
One Germantown's oldest buildings, the historic 1770 Mennonite Meetinghouse features displays which illustrate Mennonite history and the first recorded protest against slavery written here in 1688. Tours are available by appointment.

Rittenhouse Town
Rittenhouse Town, in nearby Fairmount Park, is the site of America's first paper mill, established in 1690. Today, seven buildings remain, dating from the early 18th century until the end of the 19th century, including a barn which houses a paper making studio, the original Rittenhouse Family Homestead, and the original Rittenhouse Homestead Bakehouse.

Stenton
Stenton is known as one of the earliest, best-preserved historic houses in Philadelphia. Its distinguished Georgian architecture, its outstanding collection, and its superb documentation combine to create one of the most authentic house museums in the region.

Upsala
Built in sections between 1740 and 1798, this lovely Federal style home is located on the site of the American encampment during the Battle of Germantown.

Wyck House and Garden
Wyck was home to nine generations of the same Quaker family, who owned and lived on this "farm" in Germantown. The Wycks filled their beautiful home with fine antique furniture and artwork that still remain today, along with a lovely 18th rose garden. The house and garden served as a field hospital in the Battle of Germantown. Today the colonial house with its noteworthy 1824 alterations, historic gardens and remarkable collections are open to the public.

Web Resources

Historic Germantown

Germantown Historical Society

Discover Germantown

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