Manayunk Railroad Bridge

Manayunk: A Year in the Neighborhood
Text by Elizabeth Kostova, photographs by Sandy Sorlien

Elizabeth and I are looking for a publisher for this small book. Her text is a journal of her first year in Manayunk; my pictures were taken over the course of four seasons. It is a lively portrait of an urban neighborhood in transition. Here is her preface and a few of my images:

Manayunk: A Year in the Neighboorhood
Preface by Elizabeth Kostova

Manayunk is a sprawling neighborhood in northwest Philadelphia traditionally bounded by Manayunk or Ridge Avenues, Fountain Street, the Wissahickon Creek, and the Schuylkill River. Manayunk is as richly varied as American history. It is Catholic -- Italian, Irish, Polish, Ukrainian -- and Protestant -- Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian. Manayunk is African-American, immigrant Asian, Appalachian, blue-collar, artsy, immigrant, transitory, dug in, veteran, old Philadelphia, entrepreneurial, on welfare, wealthy, laid off, retired, on the skids. Local legend says that "Manayunk" was a Lenape Indian word meaning "The place we go to drink," although it's hard now to imagine ingesting even a drop of water from the Schuylkill or the Manayunk Canal. These days, Bud, Chardonnay, local beers, and Jack Daniel's are the drinks of choice in Manayunk.

Manayunk travels by rollerblade, baby stroller, racing bicycle, Cadillac, Dodge, Buick, Nissan, Lamborghini, garbage truck, in Italian designer shoes, in work boots, by train to Center City, by bus down the Ridge, by taxi to the grocery store, on foot to the dentist's office.

Our street in Manayunk -- one block long -- is dominated by Italian-American Catholic families who have lived within a mile for four generations, and by sixth-generation Irish-descended Manayunkers. Young newcomers spice up the pot: our neighbors across the street are a Jewish and Taiwanese couple, their neighbors are Jewish and German, and my own household is half-Bulgarian. The new family at the end of the block is English-descended from Maryland.

For the moment, at least, we are all Manayunk.

©2002 Elizabeth Kostova

All photographs ©2006 Sandy Sorlien