Maybe you heard of Philadelphia’s N3rd Street back when the nickname first began trickling down North 3rd Street from Northern Liberties all the way to Old City. Or maybe the street packed full of technology and web businesses didn’t cross your radar until last year, when the name became official.
Either way, if you live in Philadelphia and pay even the slightest bit of attention to the city’s tech scene, you know N3rd Street. Not only is it home to some of the city’s most innovative thoughts and products, but it also provides the framework for collaborations and friendships among like-minded brains.
“The most exciting part of N3rd Street is the college campus feel,” said Darren Hill of WebLinc. “It’s great to walk around in Old City and see half a dozen friends from other tech companies within two blocks.”
To commemorate its first official anniversary, N3rd Street is, well, throwing a party.
The N3rd Street Birthday Party, organized by Jarvus, Code for Philly, Bamboowifi, CandiDate, N3rd Street Gamers, N3rd Street Farmers Market and SeventySix Capital, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 12-5 p.m. at Liberty Lands Park. The free event, featuring food, art and music, will serve as a fundraising effort for N3rd Street community initiatives and a springboard for the forthcoming year’s success.
In that same spirit of celebration, allow us to take you on a walk down N3rd Street memory lane.
1. The long-awaited placement of the official N3rd Street signs.
Back in 2012, in Technical.ly Philly’s first-ever post about N3rd Street, we introduced you to the street full of “like-minded technologists who compete, collaborate and inspire each other to do better work.” The sense of community that has blossomed since those early days leads us to our first (and most obvious) highlight.
Thanks to the enthusiasm and efforts of some of N3rd Street’s key players, City Council made the name change official last year, and the signs quickly followed. Danny Harvith, who first starting working at Jarvus Innovations in 2013, worked with the Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association, Old City District Board, business owners, residents and community leaders in order to champion the idea that N3rd Street should become more than just a nickname.
“Everywhere we went, people were on board to support and help. It’s an incredible feature of Philly — the pride we hold for our homegrown, bootstrapped initiatives,” Harvith says.
2. Coworking wonderland Indy Hall reached a milestone 250+ members.
Indy Hall, Old City’s collaborative space for independent workers, just celebrated its ninth birthday, and is now over 300 members strong. As a key catalyst of important relationships in the N3rd Street community, Indy Hall allows those who usually work on their own to have ‘coworkers’ who inspire, challenge and entertain them.
3. Code for Philly celebrated its 100th meetup and took a moment to look back at the group’s “greatest civic hacks.”
Code for Philly, an integral member of the N3rd Street community, has a simple mission: Make Philly better.
According to Dawn McDougall, Code for Philly’s first Executive Director, the group’s meetups bring together an impressive assortment of people who envision ways to make Philadelphia better through the creation of web apps. She originally got involved with the civic technology-minded organization by attending weekly hack nights, where she realized there were “pockets of nerdiness” for just about anyone. In the coming year, McDougall hopes to see a sense of connectivity develop between not just the individuals in the N3rd Street community, but the projects and efforts that each person works on.
4. Bamboowifi emerged onto the N3rd Street scene.
Bamboowifi is a wireless internet service provider that, quite simply, wants to create an alternative to standard WiFi that relies upon home equipment and corporate providers. Although it’s still a work in progress, Bamboowifi’s determination to transform Philadelphia into a city of wireless access points is certainly a sign of good things to come.
5. SEER created the neighborhood guide that any Philly transplant wishes they had before moving here.
Despite being designed as a resource for SEER Interactive hires moving to the area, the Philly Neighborhood Guide is a fantastic resource for anyone relocating to Philadelphia and hoping to put some meaning behind neighborhood labels on Craigslist.
The guide offers personal testimonials from SEER team members who live in each neighborhood (meaning that areas in which no employees reside are excluded), as well as a list of the best restaurants, bars and attractions in each area. With Philly on track to become the nation’s next big startup destination, we’re sure that future influxes of techies-in-transit will put the neighborhood guide to good use.
Complete with spiked punch, a “1980s formal” dress code, and a Forever Young theme, the endlessly entertaining folks at Indy Hall brought out the ratted hair and puffy sleeves for this first-time event. The result was a prime example of the fact that N3rd Street is made up of friends who have fun together, not just colleagues who do work together.
7. The N3rd Street Farmers Market headed into its third year.
Also a part of the community is the N3rd Street Farmers Market, which sets up every Wednesday from May to October on Church St. between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Described as “a community experience that happens to look like a farmers market,” N3RD MRKT has even begun to set up during Old City First Friday events.
Karina Ambartsoumian, the market’s organizer, worked at Indy Hall three years ago when the idea of starting a farmers market came up. Ambartsoumian says that N3rd Street’s attitude of passion and innovation perfectly matches that of the farmers market: “The market is filled with vendors who are taking risks and sharing their gifts, just like the rest of the N3rd Street community.”
8. N3rd Street hosted its first blood drive.
Technology can do a lot of good for the world, but some of the more old-fashioned tricks still get the job done. On Aug. 24, donors gave blood at either Devnuts and National Mechanics thanks to a partnership between the drive locations, the American Red Cross, Indy Hall and Jarvus Innovations.
So, what’s next for N3rd Street?
According to Harvith, there are endless possibilities to collaborate with students, organizations, artists and local municipalities in order to continue making positive changes in the community. With a constantly growing family of “N3rds,” he says, there will be many new ideas and initiatives to come.
Another year will bring new challenges, ideas and solutions, but if N3rd Street’s future looks anything like this last year, the Philly tech scene will be continue to be well worth your attention.