Long live the big bottle!

Neighborhood identity is more testy in Philadelphia than anywhere else I've lived, and yet the boundaries are just as fickle.

By one map, I live in Fishtown; by another, East Kensington. My teenager has taught me to say we're in Fishtown—a neighborhood now associated with tony restaurants and plush condos—because his friends aren't allowed to visit him if he lives in Kensington. Type "Kensington, Philadelphia" into a search engine, and you wouldn't send your kids there, either. And yet, technically, Kensington envelops a huge section of North Philly, including Fishtown. 

Even as I selectively disown East Kensington, I chafe at how boundaries are bent to fit a neat, popular narrative. A cool new mural in Kensington? That must be Fishtown. A drug bust on Frankford Avenue? Let's call it Kensington.

So I was thrilled this month when the Philadelphia Historical Commission voted unanimously to give historical status to the old Harbison’s Dairy and its iconic milk-bottle-shaped water tower. That tower is squarely in East Kensington, and it's visible from the El train and roof decks for a mile around. 

I regularly snap pictures of the bottle as it appears through (quickly disappearing) gaps between rowhomes. I ran this New Year's Eve photo (top) through Twitter's "Fame" filter for social media posts.

PA Philadelphia—2017 December 31 09;40;55-2-2.jpg
PA Philadelphia—2018 January 16 21;40;09-2.jpg