Updated July 24
When the temps rise, Philadelphians start thinking about cooling off by the water.
There’s the city’s network of 70-plus public pools. There’s that elite swim club in Northern Liberties. For the rule-breakers among us, there’s fire hydrants (the city definitely doesn’t want you to open those) and the fountain in Logan Square, where swimming is technically prohibited but rarely enforced (you didn’t hear it from us).
Also: there are 30-plus boats scattered throughout the neighborhood.
Sheldon Abba lives at 13th and Girard. A few months ago, he started volunteering for the Free Library’s Lillian Marrero Branch at Sixth and Lehigh. In his free time, Abba is a street photographer. He walks nearly everywhere he goes, snapping photos all the way.
On his regular two-mile walk to Marrero, the rolls of film he’s filled have been unexpectedly… nautical. Abba has gotten so many photos of boats that he’s debated dedicating an entire Instagram account to them.
“A lot of different lots, if you take a peek in, you’ll see a lot of boats,” he said. “Especially in that area, there are some that have been there forever.”
A few times, Abba has seen passersby while snapping boat photos. He’s asked around, but never been able to track down any of the owners. Still, he’s heard plenty of rumors. “Some are delinquent properties, some are lot owners that have boats and need to drop them off somewhere,” he said. “Sometimes, people are living in them.”
Abba agreed to let us publish his collection. Scroll down to see more of North Philly’s urban-marine vibe.
The many boats of North Philadelphia
Featuring a dart board, if you’ve got nothing better to do.
And you can take a nap afterward.
This one is one the move.
While this one is waiting (and waiting, and waiting) patiently for its next adventure.
After all, the city is surrounded by rivers.
Why not a couple of jet skis too?
Do not park in front of this one, it needs quick access to the concrete.
Does the PPA ticket boats?
What would Philadelphians do without vacant corner lots.
That is one manicured boat dock.
While this one is more like a junkyard setting. (Boat still looks in good shape, though.)
What happens to “My Sanity” as it watches all the new construction rise around it?
Relegated to storage for recyclables.
Boat parking with a view, from trailers to steeples.
Seen better days — but those days were probably hella fun.