Wissahickon, Philadelphia

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Neighborhood of Philadelphia
Ridge Ave. over Wissahickon Creek in Wissahickon
Ridge Ave. over Wissahickon Creek in Wissahickon
Wissahickon is located in Philadelphia
Coordinates: Coordinates: 40°01′05″N 75°11′24″W / 40.018°N 75.19°W / 40.018; -75.19
Country  United States
State Pennsylvania
County Philadelphia County
City Philadelphia
Zipcode 19128
Area code(s) Area code 215

Wissahickon is a neighborhood in the section of Lower Northwest Philadelphia in the state of Pennsylvania. Wissahickon is located adjacent to the neighborhoods of Roxborough and Manayunk, and it is bounded by the Wissahickon Valley Park, Ridge Avenue, Hermit Street, and Henry Avenue. The name of the neighborhood comes from the Lenni Lenape word wisameckham, for "catfish creek", a reference to the fish that were once plentiful in the Wissahickon Creek.[1]


The village of Wissahickon was founded by officials of the Pencoyd Iron Works in the late nineteenth century.[2]

Historic Structures[edit]

  • The 100 Steps: Located at the base of Freeland Avenue, these broad stairs were built in 1901 of Wissahickon granite and local ironwork. Restoration work was completed between 2003-05 as steps were repaired, new lighting was installed, and railings were replaced. The 100 Steps offer a convenient route to the trails in Wissahickon Valley Park.[3]
  • LaNoce Park: Bounded by Osborn Street, Rochelle Avenue, and Kalos Street, this park is the site of the former Wissahickon Public School and was established in 1984 by way of transfer to the Fairmount Park Commission. It was named for former local barber and community leader Sabatina LaNoce who died in 1980.[4][5]
  • Merrick Hall: Located on the 5300 block of Ridge Avenue, this is the oldest building on Northern Children’s Services campus. Designed by noted Philadelphia architect Lindley Johnson in the 1870s, it was originally the former home of 19th century industrialist J. Vaughn Merrick. The house was renovated in 1927 by the well-known Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer and more recently in 2012-14 by Philadelphia architecture firm Jacobs Wyper Architects.[6][7]
  • Northern Children's Services: Located on the 5300 block of Ridge Avenue, this is a cluster of stone buildings, including four dormitories, an infirmary, a dining hall and kitchen, a gymnasium, a library and meeting rooms, designed and altered by Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer in 1927 on a six-acre campus aimed at helping children and their families do better.[8][9][10]
  • St. Timothy's Workingmen's Club and Institute: Located at the intersection of Ridge Avenue, Terrace Street, and Vassar Street, and founded in 1872, this club provided free educational opportunities for working men, including night classes in mechanical drawing, engineering, and chemistry, until 1913 when it ceased operations.[11]
  • The Ridge Avenue Bridge: Located at the southern edge of the neighborhood, it is a triple-span stone arch bridge built in 1888 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. The bridge carries Ridge Avenue over the Wissahickon Creek and into East Falls.[12]
  • Wissahickon Presbyterian Church: Located at the intersection of Ridge Avenue, Dawson Street, and Manayunk Avenue, the church was built in 1893 and started with 54 members.[13][14]


Primary and secondary education[edit]

The School District of Philadelphia operates public schools. Cook-Wissahickon School is a K-8 grade school located in the area.[15] The school was built in 1968 at the corner of East Salaignac and Righter Streets to replace the aging Cook Public School and the Wissahickon School.[16]

Residents zoned to Cook-Wissahickon are zoned to Roxborough High School.[17]

Public libraries[edit]

Free Library of Philadelphia operates its Roxborough Branch, serving Wissahickon, at 6245 Ridge Avenue at Hermitage Street.[18] A prior library, the Wissahickon Branch, located at Manayunk Avenue and Osborn Street, opened in 1909 and was built on land donated by the Pencoyd Iron Works.[19] It was the ninth Andrew Carnegie-funded Free Library branch designed by the architectural firm of Whitfield and King and featured a main reading room, a children's room which also served as a lecture room seating 100, and a basement consisting of a boiler room, coal bin, staff room, a small magazine room, and two toilets.[20] The Wissahickon Branch served the Wissahickon neighborhood until it closed in 1969. Sometime soon after, the building burned down.[21]


One SEPTA Regional Rail line connects the neighborhood to Center City: the Manayunk/Norristown Line stops at the Wissahickon station. The station was once home to a building designed by the renowned architect Frank Furness; however, the building was later demolished.[22] Improvements were made to the existing station, and during Summer 2016, local artist and Moore College of Art & Design faculty member, David Guinn painted a mural on a retaining wall running along the outbound platform of the station, coordinated by the Wissahickon Interested Citizen's Association, Mural Arts Program, and Cook-Wissahickon School.[23][24][25][26]

The neighborhood is also served by bus routes 9, 27, and 65. The Wissahickon Transfer Station offers connecting service to routes 1, 9, 27, 35, 38, 61, 62, 65, 124, 125, & R.

Civic Association[edit]

The local civic association is called Wissahickon Interested Citizen's Association. Public meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month at Northern Children's Services.


  1. ^ Alotta, Robert I. (1975). Street Names of Philadelphia. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. 
  2. ^ Campbell, William Bucke (1942). "Old Towns and Districts of Philadelphia: An Address Delivered Before the City History Society of Philadelphia, February 26, 1941". Philadelphia History. 4 (5) – via Penn State University Libraries Digital Collections. 
  3. ^ Salisbury, Stephan (May 5, 2005). "100 Steps Zigzag in Right Direction". The Philadelphia Inquirer. pp. B.1. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  4. ^ "FP.2010.001, Reference Collection (Finding Aid), Fairmount Park Historic Resource Archives". PACSCL Finding Aids. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  5. ^ Chakars, Janis (23 April 2012). "Phil Moyer Keeps LaNoce Park Looking Good". Newsworks. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  6. ^ Kellogg, Isabelle (September 3, 2014). "Jacobs Wyper Architects Restores Merrick Hall at Northern Home for Children in Roxborough". American Institute of Architects Philadelphia Chapter. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  7. ^ Fox, Jessie (September 23, 2013). "Expanding Services By Merging Old And New At Roxborough's Northern Services". Hidden City Philadelphia. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  8. ^ "Northern Home for Friendless Children". Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  9. ^ Chastain, Sue (December 13, 1994). "A Roxborough Home For Boys Helps Them To Move Forward". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  10. ^ Scally, Bernard J. (August 3, 2014). "Northern Children's Services offer more with Merrick Hall reopening". Roxborough Review. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  11. ^ mjk38 (2014-08-11). "End of St. Timothy's Workingmen's Club and Institute in Roxborough (1913)". Philadelphia Studies. Retrieved 2016-07-14. 
  12. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  13. ^ "Alumni Personals". The Lafayette Weekly. May 26, 1899. 
  14. ^ "Wissahickon Presbyterian Church". Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. 2017. 
  15. ^ "Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School". The School District of Philadelphia. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  16. ^ "Welcome". Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School. The School District of Philadelphia. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  17. ^ "High School Directory Fall 2017 Admissions" (Archive). School District of Philadelphia. p. 57/70. Retrieved on November 16, 2016.
  18. ^ "Roxborough Branch." Free Library of Philadelphia. Retrieved on November 7, 2008.
  19. ^ Fourth Annual Message of John E. Reyburn Mayor of the City of Philadelphia with Annual Reports of Various Departments ..., Volume 1. Philadelphia, PA: Dunlap Printing Co. 1911. p. 1137. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  20. ^ "Historical Images of Philadelphia - Wissahickon Branch". Free Library of Philadelphia. 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  21. ^ "Historical Images of Philadelphia - Wissahickon Branch". Free Library of Philadelphia. 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  22. ^ Thomas, George E. (2012). "Frank Furness: Philadelphia & Reading Railroad". FrankFurness.org. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  23. ^ Pasquarello, Daniel (January 2, 2015). "Proposed Wissahickon mural aims to show local balance between urban and natural environments". WHYY/NewsWorks. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  24. ^ Muse, Queen (April 20, 2015). "Community begins to brainstorm for upcoming mural at the Wissahickon station". WHYY/NewsWorks. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  25. ^ Corrigan, John (August 5, 2015). "Plans for Wissahickon Station mural revealed". WHYY/NewsWorks. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  26. ^ "Mural Begins to Unfold in Wissahickon". Town News Today. June 14, 2016. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

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