Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bygone Industry and Beer: I'll Drink To That.

THE COHOCKSINK CREEK RAN right through my neighborhood, Northern Liberties, making the area an industrial hub in early America.

While the creek has long since been filled in (the only traces of it remain as part of the municipal sewer system), you can follow the creek's path and see how industry developed around it.

The Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association organized a pair of historical tours today, one looking at industry in general and the other focusing on the breweries of the area.

Along the creek's bed were leather manufacturers, iron works, glass makers, wheel makers, electric companies, sugar refineries, and numerous mills producing copious amounts of linens, laces and other dry goods. Many of the streets in the neighborhood were built around huge industrial plots, which explains why this neighborhood has so many angled streets in contrast to the strict grid system of Old City.

At various points in time, there were more than 100 breweries in the immediate vicinity. The first porter and first lager (as noted in the historical marker in the image at right) brewed in America were both brewed here.

It was interesting to note who attended the tours: mostly gray-haired folks on the industry tour, and many of those people are active in the community. The brewery tour brought out a different crowd - younger couples who created a much livelier atmosphere on the trolley tour (both tours began and ended at Yard's Brewery which offered free beer).

Everyone was snapping pictures even though 90 percent of what was discussed is no longer there, and the ten percent that remains is in a dilapidated state.

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