Let’s Hear It for the Falls

A love letter to our neighborhood, by a local hoping to serve.

UPDATE 2019: the search continues for EFDC’s new executive director. Best wishes to all the great candidates — this post isn’t about playing favorites, but echoing the sentiments of so many neighbors stepping forward to help make East Falls dreams come true. 

Original post May 14, 2017

If you’re familiar with the neighborhood, you know Jon Kennedy — he’s one of the friendliest faces around East Falls. We first met him pulling drafts at Murphy’s (of course we did) but he lives here and hangs here and is a great guy to know in so many ways

His beer column’s a hit with readers, and we don’t know anyone who cares more about these 1.5 square miles we call home. When Jon showed us his application materials for the EFDC gig, we liked his essay so much we’re sharing it here with some of our favorite pics from 2017 so far. (Thanks, Jon!)

View from Falls Center parking garage (across McDevitt Rec Center)

What I Love Most About East Falls

East Falls is a neighborhood often overlooked by both visitors and life-long residents of Philadelphia.  Some may say this is a blessing, others may say it is a curse.  I believe it to be neither, but am both delighted and saddened when asked, “East Falls?  Where’s that?”

I am delighted because living here in East Falls, as I have for the past 12+ years, is like knowing you are in on something amazing, like buying Apple stock when it 1st went public in 1980 at $2.75 a share!  I am saddened because with all that East Falls has to offer, how could someone, especially one raised in Philadelphia, not know about it?

Regardless of how I feel, I’m happy for the chance to talk about my favorite part of the city.

Mifflin tower and neighborhood rowhomes around Vaux & Bowman

Wooded grounds of the Native American Lenni Lenape tribe. Tree-lined streets where Oscar winner and real-life princess Grace Kelly grew up (and her son is moving!). Growing riverside community jostling for new business and development. Sprawling mansions in suburban tranquility.

East Falls is located in Philadelphia, but walk down the 3400 blocks of Midvale Avenue, Penn Street, or Queen Lane and you’ll be transported to the English countryside with beautiful Tudor architecture.

East Falls features breathtaking natural beauty, too, with greenspaces like Kelly Drive, McMichael Park, Laurel Hill Cemetery, and streets canopied by giant Sycamores on Queen Lane, and cherry blossoms along the river.

St. James the Less cemetery & church

Faith is strong here — with roots going way back. Neo-gothic St. James the Less Church is an architectural anomaly, while the the tower of St. Bridget’s Roman Catholic Church dominates our skyline from the Schuykill.  Falls of Schuylkill Baptist Church dates back to the mid 1800’s on historic Indian Queen Lane. Whether you’re religious or not, East Falls today still reflects the solid values of its pre-Colonial founders.

East Falls is also an up-and-coming neighborhood! McMichael Park is perfect for summertime Shakespeare and outdoor movie nights. Laurel Hill offers amazing tours and live concerts, exhibits & shows.

Old Academy & Carfax

Theater, anyone? Old Academy, of course (circa 1819!), but also Trolley Car Cafe — and who knows where else culture will pop up around here? Even our bike racks are artsy.

East Falls supports locally-owned businesses — you can thrive here, thanks to loyal customers and a tight-knit business community. Although development focuses on our riverfront, a slew of long-term businesses make up a second business corridor on Conrad Street with its own unique charm.

Conrad Street

Shout out to Uppercuts, where a guy can talk sports, trade jokes, and catch up on who’s doing what — all while getting a great haircut for only $15. And Billy Murphy’s, named best Irish bar in PA by Buzzfeed! Conrats, too, by the way, to Falls Flowers: soon-to-be Vault & Vine (relocating to new million-dollar digs on Midvale).

Cranky Joes — looking great after a host of renovations (and their dart league is top-notch). Hungry? They’ve got a pork sandwich that’s to die for… or right up the road, you’ll find the best gyro in Pennsylvania at Apollo’s Pizza.

Krail & Indian Queen

Or wander down to Fiorino, a hidden gem of authentic Italian cuisine — BYOB, and affordable. At the other end of Indian Queen there’s my old high school buddy’s upscale pizza place, In Riva. Artie also owns Foghorn Chicken up the road. Nearby at Major Wing Lee’s, you’ll find three-dollar hoagies raved about on an episode of Parking Wars.

Can you tell I love food? Takeout cuisine can be an art form here in the Falls, with Slices’ great salads and platters, sushi from Shan Chuan, or the classic Sh-medium pizza” from Frank’s that is just… soooo… perfect.

Jon Kennedy & Mike Murphy poured at Ringstetten’s beer garden last Fall

My favorite thing about East Falls, though, isn’t food, but love: the deep sense of community here. Neighbors still say hello when they see each other, and make time to catch up. People here REALLY care about what goes on in the neighborhood, as we can see from any community meeting held here in East Falls…

Sure residents have a rep for being “feisty” with their opinions, but this passion comes from a place of love and caring. People treat each other like family — and families sometimes argue. In East Falls, the same guy who’s always bitching about dog poop & parking won’t think twice to help you shovel out your car after a blizzard. That’s just how we do here, folks. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Of all the places I’ve lived in & around Philadelphia, I only found home when I came to The Falls. Thanks for your consideration!

— JK

Want to show your support for Jon? Have strong ideas about the kind of person who’d make a good advocate for East Falls Development? Email East Falls Development Corporation your thoughts on the best candidate for executive director — not that this is an elected position, but local input can still be helpful in making a final decision.

Update September 2017: EFDC hired Chestnut Hill resident Kathleen Hogan for executive director.

PS: More local photos on our Facebook page


About JK 19 Articles
Beer tips and food pairings from Jonathan Kennedy, a badass foodie who eats pigs whole and has forgotten more than we’ll ever know about enjoying beer.

1 Comment

  1. Why are you looking any further. Jon would be an embassador if good will and positivity regarding East Falls. I don’t know him, never heard of him until I read his essay.
    This falls into the the No Sh_t Sherlock basket if you ask me.
    I suppose it all depends on what your agenda and intent are regarding this job. I’m just a resident who calls it like I see it.

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