Live Near the Art Museums in Fairmount, Philadelphia

by Rana WaxmanJanuary 17, 2018

The Fairmount, or as locals call it ‘the Art Museum area’ neighborhood melds tree-lined streets with urban living and a vibrant creative energy. Just steps from the Rodin Museum, the Philadelphia Art Museum and the Barnes, culture and famous attractions are a stroll away. If you want to live in the city but not its downtown core, this may be the perfect place to reside.

Where is Fairmount Neighborhood?

Fairmount is one of the neighborhoods within the greater Center City district of Philadelphia. Its boundaries are north of Spring Garden Street, west of Broad Street, south of Girard Avenue and east of The Schuylkill River trail.

Depending on who you talk to, the microcosms of Fairmount include Spring Garden, Franklintown, and Francisville – more to the north. That said, the name “Fairmount” was given to the mount where the Art Museum is located. It is where William Penn intended to build his manor.
Moon over the Philadelphia Art Museum and historic Fairmount waterworks along the Schuylkill river.

Fairmount Then and Now

History buffs may appreciate that the Fairmount neighborhood was farmed by European settlers from the 17th to 19th century. You can now buy Christmas trees up on Lemon Hill, but this area was, during the American Revolution, occupied by British soldiers. Their strategy was to prevent George Washington’s troops from attacking them on the north (inland) side.

The area started to change around the early 19th century when three major institutions located in this district: (1) Fairmount Dam and Water Works, (2) Eastern State Penitentiary, (3) Girard College. If you aren’t easily spooked, the penitentiary, now closed, runs tours and is quite the scene come Halloween.

Arguably, though, the film Rocky put this neighborhood on the map for the art museum steps – now immortalized with a statue, and nicknamed the ‘Rocky Steps.’ Nonetheless, the Water Works is one of the best places to watch a sunset come summer. In fact, people wait for that experience on one of the many park benches on the nearby lawn.
East entrance to the Philadelphia Museum aka Rocky Steps

What Makes Fairmount a Great Place to Live

The Fairmount area is one of the most lively neighborhoods in Philly, and certainly a major destination for locals and tourists. For those who live in this area year-round, there are many reasons that lend to its appeal.

Access: Commuters have easy access to Interstate 76 and 676, not to mention Kelly Drive and West River Drive. SEPTA bus stops are also found along numerous routes that go to and from north, south and center city Philadelphia.

Schuylkill Trail: For some, the trail is all that is needed to get from place to place. With stairs that lead to major walkable bridges, one could easily cross the river or get from the Art Museum to South Street. This is also one of the main arteries that make Philadelphia such a walkable and outdoors-friendly city. Whether you hop on your bike, walk, or jog, this is the path for it. Don’t forget to pass through Boat House Row on your way to the Sculpture Garden.

Local Foodie Scene: Fairmount Avenue is a happening area with neighborhood bars and microbreweries, restaurants, and coffee shops. Side streets also have something to offer whether its sushi, brunch, date night or a quick sandwich.

Shops: Whether you need gas for your car, a bottle of wine to bring to a nearby BYOB, or your weekly groceries, the Fairmount area has it. Whole Foods is most people’s ‘go-to’ and their renovated quarters has indoor parking. Target just opened up in their old location but there are also pharmacies and other stores for different essentials.

Walkability: Most errands could be accomplished on foot. Fairmount is not directly in the downtown core, so other areas may fare better but it depends on what type of walking you enjoy. Plus, the Parkway, lined with flags from other nations gives you straight access to City Hall and points around it.

Schools: Fairmount is zoned to schools in the School District of Philadelphia. It is also within reach of many colleges and universities.

Types of Homes in Fairmount

The Art Museum area has a blend of condos, apartment buildings, and row homes. Some condos and apartment buildings have been renovated and somewhat gentrified. This is starting to happen with some of the older row homes as well, and there is modest new construction for those who seek it.
Philadelphia row houses in the fall.
You can expect to pay for space in the Fairmount area, especially closer to the Parkway and downtown. For instance, OCF Realty lists a 1 bed, 1 bath condo at $234,900 for 835 square feet. Want something a bit larger? For a 3 bed, 2.5 bath row house with 2159 square feet, you could be looking at around $800,000 though for new construction, think closer to $950,000.

On the rental side, there are some high rises with amenities in the area. The more re-modeled the property, the higher the rent. Also, many apartments have stand-out city views, and you’ll likely be paying a bit extra for that.

Parking is usually an on-the-side menu item. For instance, $2,750 monthly could get you a 2 bed, 2 bath, apartment in the 19130 zip code. For that, you may get gorgeous 11-foot ceilings, tons of amenities but you may need a city permit for your car.

Live and Love Fairmount, Philadelphia

One of the best ways to check out the Fairmount area is to walk it. Make it a memorable day by taking in a museum, then walk through the surrounding streets. Or, put Spring Garden on your list once the tulips bloom and more properties hit the market.

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About The Author
Rana Waxman
Rana Waxman parlays years of work experience in several fields into web content creation aligned with client needs. Rana's versatile voice is supported by a zest for research, a passion for photography, and desire to provide clients with a purposeful presence online. In her non-writing hours, Rana is a happy yogini, constant walker, avid reader, and sometimes swimmer.