Inspired by the On Foot article in our current issue about Philadelphia’s funky Northern Liberties neighborhood, my fiancé and I set out to explore writer Caroline Tiger’s route this past weekend (yes, even when we work here we still use the magazine as a guide). I have to say, I haven’t had that much fun wandering in a while.
Northern Liberties, or “No Libs,” using the official shorten-the-neighborhood-name parlance essential to any “emerging” locale, is fun, funky, and certainly unique. Located north of Center City nearby the Delaware River, it’s got a vibe similar to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and a swath of galleries, independent stores, and great bars that make for a perfect lazy afternoon stroll.
Going on Tiger’s suggestions, I checked out the Standard Tap for lunch (tasty beers and a huge, marvelous burger that requires two hands and a healthy appetite), then wandered to the Piazza at Schmidts (pictured, above) where an Italian-style square has been re-imagined and lined with 35 independent storefronts (I particularly liked Pressed 55 for great letterpress typography, Amberella Sugary and Sweet, a gallery of art and jewelry set amidst an explosion of neon pink, and Lyla Designs, where the very friendly owner was happy to talk fabrics with me).
We explored the shops of North 2nd Street, stopping into The Foodery to grab a drink, where we had plenty of options to choose from — they have over 800 types of bottled beers, along with a deli counter and a few tables — undoubtedly why the low-key joint has been called one of the best places to meet singles in Philadelphia Magazine. Down the street at Casa Papel, owner Cecilia Torres explained that the secret to the area’s coolness was No Libs supportive neighborhood business owners association, which seeks out businesses that are independently-minded, and encourages sustainable practices in its members. She was pleased and more than a little surprised to find out that No Libs had made it into Traveler.
Want to explore yourself? Check out the interactive map to the neighborhood here, and find the complete article in this month’s issue.
Photo: Krista Rossow/NGS