Searching for a cidery

Just about a year and a half ago we signed the lease for our new Ciderworks at 1526 N American Street in Kensington, just north of Northern Liberties. Since then, we’ve been hard at work securing funding and building our brand new cidery and tasting room, where you’ll be able to find our original Sir Charles line of hard cider, as well as heirloom ciders produced under the Original 13 name! We’ll be ready to unveil the finished product later this summer; in the meantime, we’d like to show (and tell) you a bit more about our new building.

Our new home (looking south down American Street towards Northern Liberties.

History

1526 N American St. was constructed in the early 1870’s, and was originally a coal yard and railroad depot for Isaac K. Wright and Son in the bustling industrial district that made up the area around American Street at the height of the industrial revolution. In the 1870’s, the Reading Railroad ran right down American Street with offshoots running through coal yards and shipping depots up and down the corridor. You can still see the old Reading Railroad tracks running down the center of American Street to this day, and the tracks which ran through our building are still cemented into the floor as well.

1875 Philadelphia Atlas – Created by G.M. Hopkins (Image Courtesy of the Greater Philadelphia Geo History Network)

By the mid-1900’s the building was still an industrial site, but had flipped from coal to iron. According to land use maps created by the Works Progress Administration, the building was used for iron as recently as 1962.

1962 Land Use Map – Created by the Works Progress Administration (Image Courtesy of the Greater Philadelphia Geo History Network)

In the building, you can still see remnants of the equipment used in these industrial operations, including a track system across the ceiling that was used to carry heavy pieces of iron from one end of the building to the other.

Remnants of the tracking system still visible on the ceiling

American Street

The neighborhood around American Street, like the rest of Philadelphia, was heavily affected by the heavy de-industrialization that took place throughout the city in the second half of the 20th century. Between 1963 and 1992, Philadelphia lost over 60% of its industrial firms; factories were abandoned, shipping yards deserted, and much of the working-class population fled the city. Philadelphia was no longer seen by businesses as a place for industrial growth.

Original 13 and the Future

Fast forward to today, and American Street is once again gaining attention as a hub for business, but in a very different way. The once heavily industrialized corridor is finding new life as a center for breweries, distilleries, wineries, and the Original 13 cidery! Our neighbors include the Philly Homebrew Outlet across the street, St. Benjamin’s Brewing Company a few blocks away, and New Liberty Distillery just down the road, and we expect many more to be joining us over the next few years.

This growth has been encouraged by a push from the city of Philadelphia to improve the safety and aesthetic of the wide, relatively empty stretch of American Street which runs through Kensington. In the 1990s, Philadelphia was awarded a grant through the Empowerment Zone Program, a federal grant program which aimed to revitalize blighted neighborhoods around the country. Much of the $79 million awarded Philadelphia was budgeted annually to slowly support and encourage business development along American Street, and the results show. Artists, coffee roasters, breweries, and craftspeople of all kinds have set up shop in this historic neighborhood, with many more to come, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of it.

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