10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Manayunk

Think you’re a Yunker and know your neighborhood? See how many of these Manayunk facts surprise you.

1 – Marchiano’s Bakery has some famous clientele
– including Frank Sinatra, The Temptations, The Four Tops, and even Alyson Hannigan of How I Met Your Mother fame. Check out the photographs of numerous celebrity patrons hanging behind their counter next time you’re in.

Marchiano's Bakery is famous locally, and with celebrities as well.
Marchiano’s Bakery is famous locally, and with celebrities as well.

2 – Manayunk was once it’s very own city, for 14 years starting in 1840…but in 1854, it was merged back into Philadelphia, but has still retained it’s individuality.

Manayunk is a 300-year-old Philadelphia neighborhood.
Manayunk is a 300-year-old Philadelphia neighborhood.

3 – A scene in M Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable was filmed in Manayunk, with Bruce Willis in Pretzel Park, shown with St. Josaphat’s Church as a backdrop.

Bruce Willis starred in Unbreakable, and is seen here in Manayunk at Pretzel Park, a scenic destination on our food tour.
Bruce Willis starred in Unbreakable, and is seen here in Manayunk at Pretzel Park, a scenic destination on our food tour.

4 – That Loring Construction Building on Main Street? It was the Empress theater, opened in 1914 as a mixed-use vaudeville/motion picture theater that seated 1,500 people and was rumored to house the acts of the 3 Stooges.

The Empress Theater at one time provided the local mill workers with an "escape" to movies and shows.
The Empress Theater at one time provided the local mill workers with an “escape” to movies and shows.

RELATED – YOU’LL NEVER LOOK AT MANAYUNK THE SAME WAY AGAIN

5 – The Manayunk Canal was the first canal ever begun in the United States, and was entirely hand-dug. And the “towpath”, as the locals refer to the Manayunk section of the Schuylkill River Trail? It’s named for the mules that towed boats along the canal…before the invention of automobiles.

While locals refer to this as the Towpath, it's actually part of the Schuylkill River Trail, currently over 60 miles long.
While locals refer to this as the Towpath, it’s actually part of the Schuylkill River Trail, currently over 60 miles long.

6 – Cresson St was the original commercial district in Manayunk. Main St was the offices of the bankers and mill owners.

Cresson St provided the original retail space in Manayunk, shown here before the tracks were elevated in 1931.
Cresson St provided the original retail space in Manayunk, shown here before the tracks were elevated in 1931.

7 – While the industrial era of Manayunk as the “Manchester of America” is long past, there is one champion – GJ Littlewood and Sons Textile Mill, which has been in operation continuously for over 130 years. In their 5th generation of ownership and still going strong, they have even been commemorated with a dedicated mural here in Manayunk.

Philadelphia's own Mat Tomezsko chose Wally Littlewood as a subject of one of his Manayunk Murals.
Philadelphia’s own Mat Tomezsko chose Wally Littlewood as a subject of one of his Manayunk Murals.

8 – The rest of those Murals lining Main St? The subject of each is either a current or former Manayunk resident, or someone who was influential on Manayunk’s development.

Mat Tomezsko was quoted as saying that this painting, Catfish, is his favorite of his mural work in Manayunk, and was inspired by a photograph from the first canal day.
Mat Tomezsko was quoted as saying that this painting, Catfish, is his favorite of his mural work in Manayunk, and was inspired by a photograph from the first canal day.

9 – Many of the streets in Manayunk are named after the original settlers over 300 years ago. William Levering was among the first of 3 purchasers in the 1700s, with Leverington and Levering named after his family. Jacob st was named after his son, Jacob Levering. Tower St was named after Captain Tower, who founded the first hotel in Manayunk.

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10 – Famed author Edgar Allen Poe loved fishing in Manayunk, and was quoted as calling it “one of the real Edens of the land”, and “the most beautiful”.

Still a popular fishing spot today, Edgar Allen Poe frequented Manayunk.
Still a popular fishing spot today, Edgar Allen Poe frequented Manayunk.

So if you’re a Yunker, this gives you even more reason to love your Philadelphia neighborhood. And if you’ve never been, we hope this gives you reason to visit this historical gem.

What Is Chew Philly Food Tours? We offer food tours of the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia, featuring the best local eats paired with historical and cultural facts on Philly’s most delicious neighborhood. Learn more history, and taste Manayunk’s best food on our Philadelphia Tour.
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12 Comments on “10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Manayunk

  1. Seville St. was named for Seville Schofield who owned one of the wool mills in Manayunk . The Dobsons and Schofields owned a few mills there.

  2. I have lived in Myk/Rox all my life and so has both my parents , my mother’s mom came here to Manayunk when she was 10yrs old on a boat from Hungary she came here alone to meet her mother and father who came here when my grandmother was still a little baby and she married when she was 20 yrs old and had 13 kids 11 who made it to ault hood . My grandmother was born in April 1812 and is now 102 yrs old and still doing well .

  3. This is very enlightening to me. I was originally born and raised in Manayunk. I was told by my mother that it was originally Indian territory, reason for Manayunk name an Indian name something to do with water. She told me it was strictly a mill town and all the houses on Umbria Street were built for the mill workers. There also were many churches close by one another, one predominately Irish parishoners, St. John’s; St. Josephat was for Polish and one I’m not sure for German(?) St. Lucy’s was Italian. I lived on Jamestown and Cresson Sts. My grandmother who lived with us told us about the train tracks running along Cresson St. She lost a child being killed by one of those trains at age 7. Of course this would be of no interest to anyone but my family. Can’t remember a whole lot at my age now. Neighbors watched out for each others kids. You couldn’t get away with anything on my block.

  4. My family on my mother’s side emigrated from England in 1849. They were weavers and built the Leech mill at Pechin and Shurs Lane. Their first home was near St. Davids church which they attended. There was a street named Leech. That name was later changed.

  5. Manayunk also was a “sectioned” town. There was a Polish section, German section, Italian section, Irish section…etc. each with its own church. Thats why there are so many churches in yunk. You could tell who lived where just by the location of the church. St. Mary’s for the Germans, St. Josephat’s for the Polish, St. Lucy’s for the Italians, St. John’s for the Irish, to name a few. My family went to St. Mary’s since we were German. My great grandfather came to America around 1900 and settled here. Sadly, St. Mary’s church and school were closed by the Archdiocese. I would love to get in to them to see them one last time before they are gone forever.

  6. Hello would someone know how Cresson street got its name ?
    I know Pierre Cresson lived in Philadelphia a long time ago.

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