The city known for its Liberty Bells, Rocky Steps and Philly Cheesesteaks (of course!)
Like many American cities, Philadelphia contains an old town historic district which celebrates the birth of the United States and the role the city played in that story.
There are many interesting places to visit and explore, but there is one place that all visitors should ensure they do not miss.
What Is Elfreth’s Alley?
Elfreth’s Alley is one of Philadelphia’s hidden gems. Not everyone knows about it. But, if you do your historic research here, you will.
Elfreth’s Alley, is a residential street located between North Second Street and North Front Street, right within reach of the Delaware River. People do live here.
But, since 1966, Elfreth’s Alley has been designated a National Historic Landmark because it remains the United States “oldest residential street”.
Protecting Elfreth’s Alley
There are 32 Federal and Georgia residences here, highlighting early American structures that were built between 1736 and 1836.
This Alley was never meant to really mean anything to the city; but when Philadelphia became a rather bustling city around 1706, it was necessary for those collecting goods at the ports to have use of alternate routes to do so. This led to the Alley being used as a cart path, after landowners Arthur Wells and John Gilbert combined their properties to allow this to happen.
The protection of Elfreth’s Alley has been in full swing since the 1930s, as historians and residents fought to preserve it as a true colonial street. When you walk along here, it is quite incredible to see the detail that each property has. It really is a step back into another time.
Each house has it’s own charm. Whether its the shutters found on the windows, the flower boxes dressing the exterior or even the basement entries that sit out the front. The addition of American flags and patriotic colours: red, whites and blues truly helps make this Alley feel very colonial and American the minute you arrive there.
I have visited this Alley a few times over the years, most recently in June 2017 after I took my cousin Jason there during his first trip to the USA. I really love the ambiance of walking through here. It’s so quiet and historic.
What’s not to enjoy?
Supporting Elfreth’s Alley & It’s Residents
Elfreth’s Alley is not just a street to walk down. The Elfreth’s Alley Association work really hard to offer educational and community programs year round, which can include private tours inside the homes on this very street. These events can be found at their official website here.
Additionally to this Association, and on my most recent visit; we turned down a side laneway on the Alley and found ourselves at the cutest home bakery located at 115 Elfreth’s Alley. Carolyn Santamauro bakes delicious home baked goods and sells them from her home for very cheap prices. And boy, are they delicious! I bought a cherry almond bar and it really hit the spot before we headed out to dinner.
I asked Carolyn what she was selling them for and she explained that she wanted to open her own business within the food industry and this was a great way for her to raise money for it. Personally, I always like the idea of helping someone try and start their dream. She has a facebook page, if you want to like it and show her your support.
Elfreth’s Alley is one cool attraction. It is free, quirky and beyond cute.
It is my favourite place in Philadelphia and it is clearly not to be missed whether you love history or not.
For more Philly ideas, including how to explore the city for 2 days on only $200, check out Cynthia from Two Day Travel’s recommendations here.