Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Elfreth's Alley in Philadelphia.

When two real estate owners combined their properties in 1706 to create a narrow residential street to accommodate the swiftly growing population of artists and tradesmen in Philadelphia, little did they know that it would continue to be in use more than three centuries later. 

Elfreth’s Alley, in the city’s historic district close to the Delaware river, is widely considered to be the oldest continuously used residential street in the United States. It is named after silversmith Jeremiah Elfreth who is said to have commissioned and developed it. 

The street was not a part of the original blueprint for Philadelphia, but as business flourished, especially around the river, the city center grew and there was a need for more homes. The narrow cobblestone alleyway, with residences built in the Federal and Georgian styles, housed people from different walks of life and was an active site of commerce, as many tradespeople like grocers and cabinet-makers used the first floor of their homes to run their businesses.

This spirit remains in place today as many artists and entrepreneurs have made it their home, even as visitors constantly walk around the alley and peer at the features of the 32 buildings. The charming flower boxes, the colorful doors and windows, and the brick work have endured across centuries, with the help of 20th conservation activists who worked to preserve it as a model colonial street.  

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July 3, 2017 at 05:23PM

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