Elfreth’s Alley

Elfreth’s Alley is a street in Philadelphia and referred to as “Our nations oldest residential address.” It dates back to 1702 and is a National Historic Landmark. The cobblestone street and Federal and Georgian style houses that line the street were common back in the 1700s. It’s named after Jeremiah Elfreth, an 18th century property owner and blacksmith. Trades people lived on this street and was once full of printers, carpenters, and different types of crafts people.

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It’s said that Benjamin Franklin once lived here but which house is now a secret lost to history. Betsy Ross use to visit the alley.

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The homes were built between 1728 and 1836. Elfreth’s Alley is between North 2nd and North Front Streets.

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In the late 1800s and early 1900s the area began to change. Industry changed and factories moved in. Area architecture changed. By 1900, the street was mostly Irish from waves of immigration. They came for the jobs and moved to this street.

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Elfreth Alley is a product of urban renewal and historic preservation. By the 1930s the area was considered a slum after the jobs, then tenants moved away. The conditions worsened after WWII when a lot of people moved to the suburbs. Real estate values decreased. The Alley residents wanted to preserve and reverse the decline of their street. The Elfreth’s Alley Association was established in 1934 and raised funds  to restore house #126, which is the Elfreth Alley museum.

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House at the end of Bladen’s Court. A court off Elfreth’s Alley.

Philly is an awesome place if you want to walk around and be able to see colonial America. We enjoy walking around and seeing their row houses, loft buildings and the special things that make them them. There’s still stretches of streets and hidden pockets we stumble upon where my imagination can take me to America before it was America. To a time before 1776. Things that we miss back home in NY as they get sold and developed over.

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13 thoughts on “Elfreth’s Alley

    1. Thanks! Can’t figure out how to fix how distorted the pics get with a wide angle lens. My pc skills aren’t good either.

      We love Philly. Went there for the Chinese lantern festival and a food run.

  1. What a beautiful street and houses… So nice to keep them. Is there any family livng there or all of them are museum? I loved your photographs. I can imagine how nice to walk there… Thank you, Love, nia

    1. People live in them! That’s what’s so cool. The street is still residential. Old City in Philly is where you can find all the old colonial buildings. We love the architecture.

  2. I wonder what it’s like to live in such an old building! Do you know if they have open houses, or seasonal home tours? Did you get to visit the museum?

    I used to live in a 19th century farmhouse, and while it looked charming and “quaint,” it was a headache whenever something inside broke. When a pipe began leaking behind the kitchen sink, we had to tear apart the lathe and plaster wall, which also meant removing the sink and countertop and essentially remodeling the entire kitchen. It needed it anyway, but I didn’t need the expense! But I love it when someone does a respectful, careful job of remodeling and restoring an old house.

    1. This is a pisser. We missed the open house by a weekend! Can’t imagine living in an old building. We live in a 100 year old building and it’s quirky especially since I grew up in a new building. My friend’s friend has a 200 year old farmhouse. A way to describe it is a beautiful headache. It’s a lot of work maintaining it.

      The houses on Elfreth go for $700,000 and up according to trulia.com. One sold for a lot less. Thing about NY is that sounds like a steal to us and we can’t even afford it. I was watching some home show on netflix about buying homes for under $200,000. My mouth fell open. Then I realized this is NYC. We love Philly. We could easily move there. It may sound weird but Manhattan has gotten very commercial. Not sure how to describe it. Philly still feels real. That’s why we keep love our Philly getaways.

  3. Love streets like this……..there are a few like this in Georgetown (D.C.) and Old Town Alexandria and there’s something about walking down the brick sidewalks/cobblestone streets that I just love.

    Pam (and Sam)

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