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The History of Kensington, PA

personal injury lawyers in kensington, pa near park

The personal injury lawyers in Kensington, PA, have sponsored this article to share detailed information about the area.

Kensington is a neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The area is considered a dividing line between the Lower Northeast section of Philadelphia and North Philadelphia. Kensington is located in area codes 215, 267, and 445.


Anthony Palmer, an English merchant from Barbados, founded Kensington, PA, in the early 1730s using the proceeds from the sale of the Hope Farm Estate. Palmer purchased the Fairman Estate located along the Delaware River in the Northern Liberties Township with the proceeds from the sale, consisting of 191.5 acres of land.

Palmer was an active agent in the community and eventually became the acting Provincial Governor of Pennsylvania in 1747 and 1748; Palmer planned the town and sold parcels to many shipwrights, shipbuilders, and German fishermen immigrants. The original area of Kensington is more commonly referred to as 'Fishtown' because of the dominant shad fishing business present in the area during the 18th and 19 centuries.

By the mid-19th century, Kensington became one of the leading centers of the textile industry. McNeil Laboratories, an American medical product company, belonging to Johnson & Johnson, purchased a pharmacy in the area in 1879. In 1903 Mother Jones, a prominent union and community organizer, organized a "Children's Crusade" of children from the local mills and mines to protest against child labor. The residents marched from Kensington to Oyster Bay, New York, carrying banners demanding, "We want to go to school and not the mines!".

In the 1950s, Kensington saw the effects of deindustrialization, leading to a significant population loss, high unemployment, economic decline, and abandoned homes. However, in recent years, some neighborhood sections have been revitalized, especially those near Frankford Avenue, Kensington's neighbor south of Lehigh Avenue. While most large manufacturers have left, today, the area hosts many small shops and large renovated warehouses for newer artisans.

Historic Sites

Kensington, PA, holds such a rich history, so it is to no one's surprise that the neighborhood is home to a generous amount of historical sites. The sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places include,

  • The 26th District Police and Patrol Station: added to the register in 1984
  • Beatty's Mills Factory Building: added to the register in 1984
  • Kensington High School for Girls: added to the register in 1988
  • Philip H. Sheridan School: added to the register in 1988
  • H.W. Butterworth and Sons Company Building: added to the register in 2010

The neighborhood also hosts several historic sites listed on the Philadephia Register of Historic Places including,

  • Clifton Mills, 1833 N. Howard Street, Kensington (1852–63).
  • The Decorating Plant of Gillinder & Sons' Franklin Flint Glass Works, 1700-06 N. Howard Street (1876).
  • Frankford Avenue Baptist Church, 2347-49 Frankford Avenue, Kensington, Philadelphia, PA (1889)
  • Second Associate Presbyterian Church, 1523-25 N. Front Street, Kensington, Philadelphia, PA (1852–54).
  • The Star Carpet Mills, 1801-03 N. Howard Street, Kensington (1880–82).

If you're looking to live in or visit an area in Philadelphia with amazing, rich history, then look no further than Kensington, Pennsylvania.

Keep Reading: History in Port Richmond, PA

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David Petrone
Date Published: May 6, 2021
David Petrone is a personal injury attorney at Justice Guardians.
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