The birthplace of America, where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and created, Old City and neighboring Society Hill have an unequaled historic legacy. A vibrant arts scene and a plethora of boutique shops and glam restaurants lend a modern verve to the ‘hood’s old-world charm.
City Hall 6m. by train, 7m. by car
University of Pennslyvania 12m. by train, 19m. by car
30th St. Station 8m. by train, 14m. by car
Old City-Society Hill: A scenic, seamless blend of past and present
Following the original American settlers on the Delaware River, Founding Fathers like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin lived here, making it the largest and most bustling city in the country at the time. Highway construction nearly wiped the neighborhood’s population out in the 1970s, but an artist revival reinvigorated the area and it’s now one of the city’s most popular and visited places.
What to Expect: A picturesque neighborhood as rich in history as it is in cultural offerings
Beautiful, ancient churches, including Old St. Mary’s and Christ Church, and the Delaware River waterfront create a mood of contemplative peacefulness, but the daily influx of visitors and the landmark dining scene contribute a metropolitan buzz. Whether you want the bustle of a major city or the tranquility of a town that time forgot, you can find it here.
The Lifestyle: Narrow, brick-lined streets by day; after sundown, the midnight oil burns bright at bars and clubs
Get a taste of history on your weekend morning run or the walk home from work: Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Betsy Ross’s house are your neighbors. The “First Friday” of each month, dozens of galleries and art spaces throw open their doors to the city for a lively can’t-miss cultural event. Shop all day at hip boutiques like Vagabond and eat and drink all night at favorite spots like Zahav—you’ll never exhaust what this ‘hood has to offer.
Unexpected Appeal: Relative tranquility for a downtown neighborhood
The area is a historic destination, so troupes of schoolchildren and travelers from abroad are inevitable, as are occasionally late-night antics from revelers. But aside from the odd busy evening or day, you’ll encounter few interruptions to the streets’ calm flow.
The Market: Quaint, colonial-era rowhouses along with contemporary condos and penthouses
Prices here aren’t cheap, but what you’ll get you can’t find anywhere else: the highest concentration of 18th and 19th century residential architecture in the country. While regal brownstones and townhouses abound, those looking for modern luxury condos will not be left shorthanded either.
You'll Fall in Love With: Moments of time-traveling, stop-and-stare beauty
You’ll stumble across the exquisite St. Mary’s Magnolia Gardens, happen upon the Dickensian Elfreth’s Alley (the oldest residential street in America) or find yourself dining inside a restored sailing vessel called the Moshulu, rocking on the Delaware River. Old City and Society Hill offer romantic, transporting moments like these every time you step out the door.
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