East Kensington is a neighborhood located in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Kensington is a neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is between the Lower Northeast section of Philadelphia and North Philadelphia. Not to be confused with the former Kensington District, now commonly referred to as Fishtown. As with all neighborhoods in Philadelphia, the lack of any official designation means the boundaries of the area vary between sources and over time.
Traditionally, Kensington is known for its large working class Irish Catholic community. Kensington was the location of the Philadelphia Nativist Riots in the 19th century. Kensington was also home to a large, and largely invisible, English American community. For example the five Episcopal parishes in the neighborhood (Emmanuel, Free Church of St. John, Good Shepherd, St. Ambrose, St. Luke’s, and St. Nathanael’s) were founded by 19th century immigrants from England. Along with Irish Americans, Kensington is also home to a large population of Hispanic Americans (mainly Puerto Ricans), African Americans, Polish Americans, and Italian Americans. The neighborhood has also recently seen a large influx of young urban professionals and gentrification.
Kensington has traditionally been known as one of the great working class centers of Philadelphia. Initially, employment focused around the nearby waterfront, and the activities of fishermen and ship- and boat-builders. In the early 19th century, Kensington transitioned to iron and steel manufacture, and became home to a variety of factories, potteries, and machine works. By the mid 19th century, Kensington became one of the leading centers of the textile industry, particularly in carpet manufacture. McNeil Laboratories began with the purchase of a pharmacy in the area in 1879 by the company’s namesake. In 1903 Mother Jones organized a “Children’s Crusade” of children from the local mills and mines to protest against child labor. They marched from Kensington to Oyster Bay, New York, carrying banners demanding “We want to go to School and not the mines!”