Rieger & Gretz Brewery Smokestack

Gretz Brewery. Image provided by Temple University Urban Archives

West Oxford Street and Germantown Avenue

Looking out over Germantown Avenue is the smokestack of what was one of Philadelphia's many local breweries. By 1870, there were 69 breweries in the city, located mostly in Northern Liberties, Kensington, and the aptly named Brewerytown neighborhood in western North Philadelphia. Despite the growing temperance movement, the popularity of the Brewers Hall at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Fairmount Park spurred the proliferation of breweries and intensified competition. The early 1880s saw the number of Philadelphia breweries grow to 94. Founded in 1881 as Reiger & Gretz, this lager brewery managed to re-open as William Gretz Brewing Company after the 1933 repeal of Prohibition. Most Philadelphia breweries never recovered from Prohibition; by 1950, there were only eight left. Gretz Brewing Company closed its doors in 1961.