Borough of Phoenixville
At the intersection of the Schuylkill River and French Creek, Phoenixville blends historic charm with a modern mindset.
Originally known as Manavon, Phoenixville adopted its current name in 1849 to honor the Phoenix Iron Company, the town’s biggest employer at the time.
Today, the town of Phoenixville relies less on the manufacturing of nails and rails and more on its artsy, low-key vibe that attracts both visitors craving relaxation with a creative twist and residents looking to put down roots.
Bridge Street — the town’s main drag — offers a mix of wine-tasting rooms, low-key restaurants and artsy, locally owned shops. Bridge Street is divided in the center of town by Main Street, home to boutique retail and food outlets.
Driving the 27 miles from Center City to Phoenixville takes roughly 40 minutes.
Metered street parking and municipal lots are available. Arriving via public transportation from Philadelphia, though, is not easily accessible.
Performers and vendors gather in Phoenixville every year for the popular Firebird Festival.
Considered the cultural center of town, the Colonial Theatre opened its doors in 1903. While it originally hosted a variety of live shows and vaudeville, it was also an early picturehouse.
In keeping with its cinematic heritage, today the main auditorium screens new and classic movies. Film buffs, of course, will recognize the marquee from the 1958 cult favorite The Blob, which was primarily filmed in the area.
On the art front, The Art Gallery at Franklin Commons displays permanent, site-specific installations, as well as traveling exhibits, while Diving Cat Studio and Gallery showcases works from more than 200 artists.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the town fairly hums with possibilities.
Port Providence Paddle on the Schuylkill Canal rents kayaks, canoes and tubes for easygoing trips on the water.
Nearby French Creek State Park offers more than 8,000 acres of forests, lakes, wetlands and fields, providing ample opportunity for hiking, biking, fishing and camping.
The Schuylkill River Trail, which starts in Philadelphia, runs through Phoenixville and is popular with runners, walkers and bikers.
For birders, about a mile north of town on Route 113 between Riverwalk Drive and Winding River Boulevard sits Black Rock Sanctuary, consisting of 119 acres of wetlands, woodlands and meadows.
Phoenixville hosts a handful of annual events definitely worth the visit.
The Dogwood Parade and Festival has been a springtime tradition in Phoenixville since the days of World War II. Now, the May event spans six days and includes rides, vendors, live entertainment, a pageant and, of course, the highly anticipated parade.
In a tribute to its role in the 1958 film The Blob, the Colonial Theatre hosts Blobfest every summer. The annual highlight consists of fans of the film tearing out of the theater while screaming hysterically to recreate a particularly iconic scene from the film.
Appropriately enough, in December, Phoenixville leans into its name with the Firebird Festival, a gathering of vendors and performers culminating with a giant wooden sculpture of the mythical bird set gloriously ablaze.
— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia
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