Posted on: February 25, 2013
History: William Allen, a prominent Philadelphia merchant and Chief Justice of the Province of Pennsylvania, created his summer estate and mansion on Germantown Avenue at Allens Lane in 1750, and the area eventually took the building’s name, Mount Airy, as its own. Before this, the area which makes up the modern neighborhood of Mount Airy was part of two sections of the original Germantown Township (which covered all of Germantown, Mount Airy, and Chestnut Hill), Cresheim and Beggarstown.
Much of modern Mount Airy was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, spreading out from Germantown Avenue and two railroad lines. Large three-story, gray-stone Victorian, colonial revival, and Norman and Cotswold-style houses and mansions, with stained glass windows and slate roofs, are situated on many of the area’s tree-lined streets. They dominated districts like West Mount Airy’s Pelham section, East Mount Airy’s Gowen Avenue, Sedgwick Farms, and Stenton areas.
If you drive through Mt. Airy, what you see might perplex you, catch you off guard, strike you as unusual. More than one local bumper sticker claims “Unity In Diversity”, and indeed, difference is the heartbeat of the place. In Mt. Airy, like almost nowhere else in the country, you can’t generalize about the inhabitants’ ethnicities, incomes, religions, sexual orientations, preferences in music, or even likelihood of shoveling when it snows…
This poster child of a diverse neighborhood is a refuge for the unorthodox and the ostracized, people who’ve broken from family, community of origin, or previous self. It is also a place for the aesthetically betwixt and between, those who want both a yard and an easy commute to the center of town. Welcome to a neighborhood where people of just about every race, religion, class, belief system, and sexual orientation come together and play very nicely.
(From Wikipedia / O Magazine)
Boundaries: Mount Airy is bounded on the northwest by the Cresheim Valley, which is part of Fairmount Park. On the west side is the Wissahickon Gorge, which is also part of Fairmount Park. Germantown borders the southeast of Mount Airy, and Stenton Avenue marks the northeast border.
Zip Code: 19119
Dining, Shopping and Events: Go Mt Airy
Schools: Public: Charles W. Henry School, Henry H. Houston School, Anna L. Lingelbach School (K-8), Germantown High School.
Charter: West Oak Lane Charter School and Wissahickon Charter School (K-8).
Private: Green Tree School (ages 6–21), Blair Christian Academy (PreK-12), Revival Hill Christian School (9-12), Islamic Day School of Philadelphia (PreK-5), Waldorf School of Philadelphia (PreK-8), Project Learn School (K-8), Classroom on Carpenter Lane (K-2), and Holy Cross School (K-8).
Public Transportation: Two SEPTA Regional Rail lines connect the neighborhood to Center City. The Chestnut Hill West Line runs through West Mount Airy with stops at Allen Lane, Carpenter and Upsal stations, and the Chestnut Hill East Line through East Mount Airy with stops at Mount Airy, Sedgwick and Stenton stations—Washington Lane station is in Germantown across the street from Mount Airy.
The neighborhood is also served by SEPTA bus routes 18, 23 (formerly a trolley line), 53 (formerly a trolley line), H, and L.