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