Posted on: April 8, 2013
History: 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.
According to Dennis Pickeral, president of Historic Germantown, a consortium of 15 historic sites, Germantown is notable for a number of reasons. “It’s one of America’s most historic neighborhoods. It’s home to America’s longest National Historic district. Seven of its member sites are National Historic Landmarks. If you come out to Germantown, you can touch on just about every aspect and salient point of American history, from the colonial period up through the 20th century. The sites are all very diverse. You have sites like Stenton, which is very early. You have places like Cliveden, which was the site of the only Revolutionary War battle fought within the current city boundaries. We have the city’s only Victorian house museum. We have the home to America’s first paper mill. We have an Underground Railroad museum, the Johnson House. It’s just an incredibly diverse group of sites, and they all tell different and unique stories.”
(From About.com, CBS Philly)
Boundaries: The neighborhood is bordered by Mount Airy to the Northwest, Nicetown to the south. Logan, Ogontz and West Oak Lane to the East.
Zip Code: 19144
What To See / Do: Colonial Germantown Historic District, Cliveden, Germantown Cricket Club, John Johnson House, Charles Willson Peale House, Wyck House, Awbury Historic District, Tulpehocken Historic District.
More Information: HISTORIC GERMANTOWN: Freedom’s Backyard