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Family Vacations: Philadelphias Old City


Classic brownstone homes line one of Old City's charming streets.

Philadelphia is made up of many colorful neighborhoods, and Old City is among the most interesting. Laid out by William Penn in 1682, Old City today would surely astonish the great Quaker. It was a lowly waterfront district until artists began buying lofts, restoring dilapidated industrial buildings, and introducing the first theater companies. Soon, architecture firms, art galleries, design firms, restaurants, shops, and bars opened in the neighborhood, all a short stroll from downtown Philly.

The heart of Philadelphia is its Old City neighborhood, where the city began. And the heart of Old City is Elfreth's Alley, the oldest residential street in America. People have lived there since 1702. Three hundred years ago, traders and local merchants lived in the Georgian- and Federal-style buildings on the narrow street, which at just 15 feet wide was sized for horse-drawn carts and pedestrians. Blacksmith Jeremiah Elfreth owned most of the property along the alley and rented his houses to shipbuilders, sea captains, and landlubbers such as pewter smiths.

Today, Old City remains a vibrant neighborhood. Just a short stroll from historic Elfreth's Alley are the Christ Church, the Betsy Ross House, and Independence Hall. There's also the Elfreth's Alley Museum, which offers guided tours of the homes built between 1710 and 1825.

Philadelphia's Old City Information

Address: 35 S. Letitia St., Philadelphia, PA

Phone: 215/592-7929

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Pennsylvania State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Pennsylvania, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Philadelphia City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit Philadelphia.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

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