Germantown sits just six miles northwest of Center City Philadelphia. Settled by immigrant Mennonite and Quaker settlers in 1683, Germantown gave birth to the anti-slavery movement in 1688, the first thoroughfare, and the first paper mill.
Germantown grew over time to become the first Victorian-era suburb in the country. While streetcars connected it with Philadelphia in 1850, it maintained its own vibrant character. Residential neighborhoods continued to flourish, and with commercial development it became a popular retail hub with large department stores. Today, Germantown stands as a truly classic community, blending its old-world charm with an ambiance of modern sophistication.
The charm of Germantown is its remarkable diversity, its blend of urban and traditional lifestyles, and its many housing, education, transportation, and recreation options. An inclusive community of neighborhoods, Germantown’s housing stock truly provides a sense of place. Built mostly of stone to the west of Germantown Avenue and masonry to the east, Germantown’s houses are a diverse mix of single and multi-family twin and town homes that reflect its impressive history and continued evolution. Queen Anne, Second Empire, Gothic Revival, and Georgian styles of architecture are all represented.
Germantown residents enjoy a diverse educational offering. In addition to its public schools, it is home to many of the region’s premier private and parochial schools. Germantown Friends and Greene Street Friends are two of the communities greatest educational assets. Founded in the middle of the 19th century, they offer enriching educational experiences firmly rooted in the Quaker tradition.
Germantown’s walkability and accessibility are also key factors that define residents’ quality of life. The community’s main street is Germantown Avenue. Stores, shops, and houses of worship are all plentiful along this centralized strip.
Germantown and Chelten Avenues define this community’s commercial center. Residents actively support the businesses that can be found along these commercial strips, and choice commercial properties are available at affordable rates. Many are mixed-use retail and residential properties allowing owners to reduce expenses or realize added income through rentals.
Germantown’s accessibility is a major attraction for businesses and residents alike. All of the community is within a ten-minute walk to one of the three train stations that provide service to Center City Philadelphia and the surrounding region. Additionally, nine bus routes offer increased mobility to more specific locations throughout the region. These options not only makes it easy for residents to commute regularly into Philadelphia, but also bring a steady stream of customers into the community who are drawn by its retail offering and historic attractions.
The Germantown United Community Development Corporation is actively guiding the community’s economic growth. Its services help to cultivate and sustain established and emerging businesses on and near the Germantown Avenue Business corridor. Classic Town Germantown (CTGT) is a program of Germantown Community Connection.
SEPTA’s Trenton Regional Rail Line provides connections to trains and transit options that will take you to New York City or Philadelphia.
Germantown’s gorgeous surroundings offer an array of recreational opportunities for residents of all ages. Parks are plentiful. Vernon Park is an open, tree-lined area in the center of the commercial corridor with a tot lot, benches for sitting and reading, and excellent space for community-wide events. Happy Hollow is the oldest playground in Philadelphia. It hosts a number of sports and recreation programs and serves as a venue for community meetings and special events. Waterview Park is a Germantown institution. Here residents gather for games of baseball, basketball, or simply to enjoy its swings, slides, and climbing equipment. Another favorite is Fernhill Park where walking and biking trails; environmental education activities; and physical, cultural, and historic features can all be found.
Art, culture, and enrichment are also important to the Germantown community. The Germantown Theatre Center promotes performing arts through education and experience. Additionally, music and movies can almost always be found at local churches, community centers, and restaurants. Finally, for fulfillment, many residents make their way to nearby Mount Airy Learning Tree, which offers a number of classes that range from acting to photography to Karate.
History also happens to play a critical role in Germantown’s offering. Its main thoroughfare, Germantown Avenue, is a National Historic Landmark. It links the community’s five historic districts and includes Wyck House at 6026 Germantown Avenue, the home of Ruben Haines, an abolitionist, school reformer, and the first secretary of the Academy of Natural Science. The ACES museum is also included on this strip. Located at 5801 Germantown Avenue, the Museum is dedicated to honoring black and minority veterans who have served our country over the years.
Cliveden is one of Germantown’s many historic gems. Built as the summer home of Benjamin Chew in the 18th century, it was the site of the Battle of Germantown in 1777 between the American and British troops. Annual re-enactments of the Battle of Germantown occur on the first Saturday in October.
Another site to explore is the Johnson House. Built in 1768, it is the only remaining Underground Railroad station in Philadelphia and currently operates as a museum and educational institution that is open to the public. Tours of these sites and others can be arranged through the Germantown Historical Society.