Kensington Textile District

Philadelphia, PA

In 2012, Powers & Company, Inc. successfully prepared a Multiple Property Documentation Form (MPDF) for the industrial and commercial buildings related to the textile industry in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia that date between 1800 and 1969. As a general industrial area, Kensington is a fairly typical industrial enclave, in comparison to both the city and in the region. However, its significance is derived both from its powerful textile industry, which was one of the largest in the world with an unparalleled quantity, quality and range of products, and from the unique way that its system of manufacture developed and flourished in comparison to other local and regional textile centers of similar type and scale.

In describing the textile industry in Philadelphia, one critic remarked, “its typical exhibit is a 50-year-old factory building somewhere in Kensington with two competitors on the same floor, each the master of a handful of looms and doing his own beaming.” This narrow picture is aptly complemented by a broader one that states, “from the tower of the Bromley Mill at 4th and Lehigh Avenue, there is within the range of vision more textile mills than can be found in any other city in the world.” It is this balance of individual enterprise and incomparable production that gives Kensington its identity as an intimate community with an enduring and notable national impact.