Mural at the corner of Germantown Ave. and Armat St.

Mural at the corner of Germantown Ave. and Armat St.

The Germantown District (GSSD) is one of 13+ Special Service Districts in the City of Philadelphia. The GSSD was originally created in 1995 and provided services to the Germantown and Chelten commercial area until ceasing operations in 2011. The GSSD is authorized as a Municipal Authority by City Council through 2025.

The GSSD was incorporated under and is governed by the PA Municipal Authorities Act 1945 P.L. 382. The board is governed by by-laws and articles of incorpration. Every five years that GSSD submits a plan and budget to cover a 5-year period of time.

Both the plan and budget must be approved by the City Council of Philadelphia in order for the organization to operate. Our current 5-year plan was approved in October 2013 and is good until our fiscal year ends in Septebmber 2018. The organization will begin working on the next budget and plan in the fall of 2017. Learn more about our current Budget and Plan.

The GSSD is overseen by a 15 member board of directors, consisting of Germantown residents, community stakeholders and business and property owners from the district. The daily responsibilities are managed by an Executive Director. Learn more About the Board, and Staff



The GSSD covers the Central Germantown Business District, which is centered at the intersection of Germantown and Chelten Avenues, the heart of the historic Germantown neighborhood.

The district includes one of the most historic miles of continuous street in the US known as ‘the Great Road’ (another name for Germantown Ave), that houses numerous historic sites that tell the story of:

  • Pre-Revolutionary War/Colonial America
  • Revolutionary War
  • Civil War
  • and movements including Women’s Rights, Civil Rights

Also within the district boundaries are prestigious private schools, many of which were founded by Quakers who settled the Germantown area in the late 1600s, an eclectic community of artists and small galleries, professional businesses and an array of mom and pop owned small businesses, anchored by some well-known businesses and other institutions.

Not to be outdone, the district is home to the ‘Emerald Gem’ better known as Vernon Park and many other parks, green spaces and community gardens and is quickly accessible to renowned outdoor spaces including Awbury Arboretum, Wissachickon Park, Valley Green and miles and miles of gorgeous running trails.

The district is supported by a vibrant and diverse community of residents, who are also some of the small business owners and are passionate about the health, and positive growth of the community and the business district.

Stay up-to-date on community happenings in and around the district on our Calendar or our Events page. Follow along with media coverage and other stories about out district and community at our blog,  News & Information.  

Our Services

Special Services Districts are formed by property owners, businesses, and stakeholders to provide supplemental services beyond those provided by the City and invests in long-term economic development for their district. The services we provide to the district include:

  • Public Space Maintenance
  • Beautification
  • Marketing and Promotions
  • Sidewalk litter removal
  • Graffiti removal
  • Business attraction
  • Small business assistance
  • Street trees
  • Planters & greening
  • Directional signs

For more information about the services the GSSD provides and to find out how you can get involved, visit our Committees and for business and property owners in the distict, visit: Resources to see additional information to help your business.

Our History

On October 10, 2013, City Council led by the efforts and recommendation of Councilwoman, Cindy Bass (of the 8th district, which includes Germantown) voted to re-authorize the GSSD to operate as a municipal authority, with a final signature from Mayor Nutter quickly received.

A major goal coming into office was to restart the GSSD.  Councilwoman Cindy Bass, formed an advisory board to survey the community to determine what the community saw as immediate needs, trash & crime. Within her first year in office she created the board and helped to re-launch GSSD. As a result of her support, the GSSD has been moving steadily forward towards meeting the needs of the business community in the corridor.