From new home buyers to those who have spent their whole lives here, the Manayunk residential community is nothing short of vibrant. We asked a few local residents why they love calling Manayunk home. Meet your neighbors!
By Leksey Maltzman Photos by Alexa Nahas Photography (alexanahas.com)
On a rainy Saturday morning in 2014, Yenssy and Alex fell in love with a historic row home on Roxborough Avenue. In just four years, their family has become a party of four with the additions of sons Brayden and Beau. Yenssy and Alex have since done some renovations to their home in order to accommodate their growing family.
With their house just steps away from Pretzel Park, new mom Yenssy wanted to find her place in the community. She joined a mommy group and found Manayunk to be a community full of growth and potential for young families.
“There are a lot of different things that developed since we first moved in here,” Yenssy said. “I remember when the Halloween parade was just a few people and now it’s the entire block full of kids! There’s a lot of progress and the old tale of it not being a family community is just not true at all.”
Alex loves the accessibility of Manayunk and the surrounding areas.
“You’re pretty much sitting in the center of everything,” Alex shared. “Whether you need to get out to King of Prussia or down to Center City, everything is within a short distance — and the public transportation is great.”
When asked what their favorite thing about living in Manayunk is, Alex did not hesitate to exclaim, “Taqueria Feliz!”
Yenssy agreed and elaborated, “We have the opportunity to still be very vibrant as a married couple, go on date nights, and shop locally, which is really important to us.”
Yenssy, Alex, and their boys love being a part of the Manayunk community and working with other families to make Manayunk the best it can be.
“What’s made me happiest,” Yenssy said, “is the community and how much we’ve come together for things like cleaning Pretzel Park and building a new playground.”
Meet Nina and George Terrace Street Residents Moved In: 2014
After their kids left for college, Nina and George decided they wanted a change. They took the opportunity as empty nesters to downsize from their home in Bryn Mawr to a house in Manayunk.
“We had been in the suburbs for a number of years and wanted a change,” George said. “We wanted more of a community and to be in the city.”
“All of the things we like to do seemed very accessible in Manayunk,” Nina added.
They enjoy taking advantage of the numerous trails, fitness classes, as well as dining and shopping on Main Street. They both chose to show their favorite things about Manayunk in their photo; George loves going to yoga at JTOWN Hot Yoga, and Nina is wearing her favorite gown from Nicole Miller.
Besides the many activities in Manayunk, they also enjoy the diversity of people they’ve come to know since they moved here.
“We’ve met several other couples sort of just like us and that’s been fun,” Nina explained, “but we’ve also met a lot of different people.”
George is an avid bird lover and has several bird feeders he enjoys taking care of. Moving from Bryn Mawr has given him an additional perk when it comes to bird watching — the endangered Peregrine Falcons that live in the top of St. John the Baptist.
“My extra bonus is that I get to wake up to Peregrine Falcons outside our bedroom window!” he shared.
When it came to shopping for their home in Manayunk, having a great view of the neighborhood was high on their list.
“I haven’t seen anywhere in the city or the suburbs that has the views we have in Manayunk,” George said. “I don’t know how you could put a price tag on views.”
Meet Brian and Katie Fountain Street Residents Moved In: 2018
Though Brian and Katie are recently engaged and bought their first home this year, they are no strangers to the area. Brian grew up in Manayunk, and his parents are his new neighbors.
“My family lives around the corner from us,” Brian said. “I grew up here and I have no desire to really go anywhere else.”
Besides having family close by, Brian appreciates the overall environment Manayunk has to offer.
“I like how it dances the line between city and ‘burbs,” he said. “It’s not really either completely, but it’s a nice mix of the two.”
“There is usually somewhere to see live music most nights of the week, too,” Katie added.
Not only do Brian and Katie live in Manayunk, they also work here. Brian bartends at Lucky’s Last Chance, and Katie sings with her band, Stella Ruze, and as a solo act at The Grape Room, Dawson Street Pub, and Lucky’s Last Chance. You are also likely to catch Katie performing at many Manayunk festivals and events.
When Katie isn’t performing, she babysits the daughter of Brandy Deieso, the owner of The Little Apple, and takes advantage of spending time on Main Street visiting with shop owners.
“I like being down on Main Street more often because I’m starting to meet all of the different shop owners,” she said. “There are a lot of women shop owners in Manayunk, which is pretty cool.”
Manayunk has been a part of Brian and Katie’s relationship from the very beginning.
“We met here, we dated here, we got engaged up at Gorgas Park,” Katie shared. “Almost everything we’ve done has been in Manayunk.”
Meet Mark and Neal Gay Street Residents Moved In: 1999
You may recognize the entrance to Mark and Neal’s home, and that’s because their home is also the Manayunk Chambers Guest House. Just off of Main Street is a beautiful Victorian house that’s been in Neal’s family for well over a century. Over the years, it was home to several ventures including a hair salon, a church parsonage, and apartments. In 2007, Mark and Neal decided to make it into a bed and breakfast, and they restored the interior to reflect the historic charm and character of the building.
Neal spent his whole life living in Manayunk and has seen it evolve and grow since he was a little boy.
“It used to be a working class family neighborhood, and then more and more students were coming in, and businesses opened,” Neal explained. “Now, it’s going back to a family neighborhood, but with new vibrancy and culture. You can really see the growth from season to season.”
Even though Mark has not lived in Manayunk for as long as Neal has, he created his own family here.
“I like the tight-knit group — my adopted family, so to speak — with the business community,” Mark shared. “When we finished renovating, I decided to reach out to the business community and work towards the same common goal to bring more business to Manayunk.”
Mark and Neal are avid users of the public transportation available in Manayunk. In fact, Neal doesn’t even have a driver’s license.
“There is always a way to get somewhere.” Neal said, “It’s so easy to branch out from this spot, and yet, if you don’t branch out and you stay here, it’s terrific!”
Meet Ali and Seth Saint Davids Street Residents Moved In: 2014
Ali and Seth initially moved to Manayunk because they found it to be the perfect in between point for their work commutes. While renting for three years, Ali and Seth established roots in Manayunk by joining gyms, getting to know small business owners, and taking advantage of the trails. Ali even bought her wedding dress in Manayunk.
“I bought my wedding dress at Nicole Miller and carried it home right down Main Street,” she said. “Couldn’t have been closer.”
When it came time to purchase their first home together, they considered moving to other areas of the city, but couldn’t bear to leave all of the amenities they had discovered in Manayunk.
“There is just so much to offer here that it kept us,” Ali said.
“The other key was housing prices,” Seth added. “We were able to get so much more for our money than we would have in any of the other neighborhoods we were looking at.”
They ended up moving into a house on Saint Davids Street — just a few seconds’ walk to their favorite shops and restaurants on Main Street, not to mention the train station.
“Any further and we are likely to miss the train,” Seth joked.
Seth and Ali are always looking for new ways to get involved in the community and take advantage of everything Manayunk has to offer.
“We tried stand-up paddle boarding on the Schuylkill River right behind the brewery,” Ali said. “It was awesome. Who knew you could do that in Manayunk?”