Midtown Village is one of the most historic parts of Philadelphia, but many do not associate it with the great past this city holds.
This is where Ben Franklin conducted his kite experiment on 12th and Chestnut, the birthplace of Stetson Hats, and even was home to the very first public library.
What this area has now become known for is its nickname; the “Gayborhood”. The area has grown to hold a large population of the LGBT community here in Philadelphia where there are many stores and bars open in appealing to these citizens.
However, this doesn’t pigeonhole the area into a place strictly for LGBT members. This area has grown in the recent years to be one of the most up and coming area codes of the city for millennials, and nothing resembles this better than the Midtown Fall Festival.
The Fall Festival is a block party that stretches from the entrance on 13th street all the way down to Market and Locust including several other surrounding blocks. The festival last eight hours and has an array of different beer gardens, food vendors, live entertainment, and local craft makers selling their goods.
The festival is in its 11th year and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Jeff Alexander, President of the Board of Directors for Midtown Village Merchants Association, detailed on how the festival has grown to such heights.
“When we started it was just mostly residents of Midtown coming out to celebrate their part of Philadelphia,” said Alexander. “Know through help of the city we estimate that based on street closures and how many people can fit on them we averaged about a little of 50,000 people this year.”
The “Gayborhood” was not always the it spot for millennials to visit that it is today. For a long period of time it was one of the more run down communities within the city that was labeled as a low income area.
This rejuvenation of Midtown started in 2006, a year after the first Midtown Festival, when developer Tony Goldman purchased several properties along 13th street and transformed the area into the lane of merchants and restaurants the area is known for today.
The effect was a surge in the area and its income. The average adjusted gross income (AGI), a persons total gross income minus some specific deductions, shot up after the renovation of the area to much higher than the average of the rest of Philadelphia.
As seen in the tax reports for the city of Philadelphia, in 2004 the AGI for Midtown was $46,673, which was $1,376 below the city average. In 2012 it rose to $69,813, – $8,467 larger than the city average.
With the growth of the area, came the growth of the Fall Festival itself.
“We’ve grown considerably over the years,” said Alexander. “The growth is in large part due to the sponsors we have attracted. This year we had both Verizon and Comcast come out and support us, and each year we get recognition from groups who want to partake and help this area and festival grow.
With the evolution of the “Gayborhood” and its growth to become one of the most recognizable vibes within the city, the Midtown Fall Festival has turned into the largest street festival the city of Philadelphia sees all year.
“Our goal is to just bring neighbors and outside residents of Philadelphia or even outside the city together for a last day of fun in the fall season before the winter approaches,” said Alexander. “We love when these people come out so they can experience the amazing restaurants and boutiques we offer in the village so they learn about us and come back for more fun.”