Since the time of William Penn, the Philadelphia neighborhood of Northern Liberties has had a tradition of hard work and innovation. This former Leni-Lenape territory became one of the industrial River Wards of North Philadelphia after being annexed by the city in 1854. The district’s mills and factories were powered not just by the Delaware River and its tributaries but also by immigrants from across Europe and the city’s largest community of free African Americans. The Liberties’ diverse narrative, however, was marred by political and social problems, such as the anti-Irish Nativist Riots of 1844. Local historian Harry Kyriakodis traces over three hundred years of the district’s evolution, from its rise as a premier manufacturing precinct to the destruction of much of the original cityscape in the 1960s and its subsequent rebirth as an eclectic and vibrant urban neighborhood. In this first history of Northern Liberties, Kyriakodis unearths the story of this remarkable riverside community.
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