I finally went to Manayunk.
How many years have I known about Manayunk's renaissance? Twenty years? Sad. Anyhow, John and I needed an excuse, and so we found one. We need a doorknocker. And a new mailbox. So we thought we'd check out Restoration Hardware, which happens to be located in Manayunk. Our babysitter was available on Saturday so we tooled on over.
Manayunk is fairly funky if you ignore the Pottery Barn. And the Restoration Hardware, which did have predictably acceptable door hardware. I fell in love with Artesano Iron Works, just under the big bridge on the west side of Main St. In fact, I have a terrible crush on a copper-topped table and chairs there. Their furniture is made of reclaimed lumber from Colombia. It's very heavy and square but has ornate ironwork on some of it, so some of the pieces look like treasure chests. The big old bridge, resplendent with arches, looms over the shop.
The best thing about Manayunk isn't the shops or the restaurants but the edginess of it, real edginess, not manufactured by a "loft" condo developer. The Manayunk Canal drifts dankly by, as you sip your California Dreamin' IPA at Manayunk Brewery and Restaurant. You can see people walking up on the railroad trestle high above the Schuylkill River next to the canal. A couple of kids jump into the river from that height, which surprises you.
After supper you walk along the Schuylkill River Trail, narrowly avoiding getting slammed by bicyclists. Across the canal, young men play a pickup game in a weedy city basketball court. Beyond the river, cars rush by on the Schuylkill Expressway. The sky turns pink and gray as you walk along. It's a Saturday night in late August. You walk in towards Main St. , where two tired women sit on a bench. There are more "For Rent" signs at this end of town than there should be. You see a sign for the SEPTA station and so you look for it. The tracks are elevated, and rise above the length of Cresson St., dwarfing and dominating the shops. Under the tracks you find The Cresson Inn, "Where the Real Yunkers Drink." All two of them. Edward Hopper, where are you now?
You could be "down the shore," but no, you're in Manayunk. It's hard to think of a more bittersweet place to be at summer's end.