They gather on Bridge Street on Thursdays and Fridays, millennials and baby boomers bustling in and out of the Steel City Coffee House, Molly Maguire’s Irish Restaurant and Pub, and the other restaurants, breweries, and boutiques that have inundated Phoenixville.
Yards away, residents come and go from a lavish new four-story apartment building set along the main drag, hosting friends inside the rental complex adorned with lounges, fire pits, and an exclusive theater before heading out for the local nightlife.
It’s quite a change. For decades, small suburban towns epitomized the American Dream. Built on the fortunes of manufacturing or education and other service industries, places such as Phoenixville and West Chester, among others, offered lower- and middle-income people the chance to buy modest homes, find decent jobs, and settle into stability away from the city.
Now, many of these communities are rapidly revitalizing. Old manufacturing sites and undeveloped acres have been transformed into thousands of new apartments outfitted with amenities galore, with rents that some towns have never seen before.