Originally called Manavon, Phoenixville was settled in 1732 and incorporated as a borough in 1849. In its industrial heyday early in the twentieth century, it was an important manufacturing center and it was the site of great iron and steel mills such as the Phoenix Iron Works, boiler works, silk mill, underwear and hosiery factories, a match factory, and the famous (and now highly collectible) Etruscan majolica pottery. Like many American towns and cities, Phoenixville owes its growth to its waterways. It is not only situated on the broad Schuylkill River, a historic thoroughfare to Native Americans and early settlers alike, but it is bisected by the fast-flowing French Creek, which was quickly harnessed for water power.
Much of this history was recognized by the creation of the Phoenixville Historic District, the largest National Register of Historic Places site in Chester County. The Black Rock Bridge, Gay Street School, and Schuylkill Navigation Canal, Oakes Reach Section are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Phoenixville has a diverse local economy that largely includes many local artisans and restaurants. Local hotspots include an Iron Hill Brewery and Molly Maguire's Pub, both located on Bridge Street. Customers Bank, the nation's fourth-best community bank for return on equity in 2011, according to the American Bankers Association, is headquartered in downtown Phoenixville.