The nation’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street
Butchers. Bakers. Candlestick-makers. Named for blacksmith and property-owner Jeremiah Elfreth, Elfreth’s Alley was home to the 18th-century artisans and trades-people who were the backbone of colonial Philadelphia. Over 300 years later, the houses on this itty-bitty, cobblestone street are still hot properties.
While a modern city has sprung up around it, the alley preserves three centuries of evolution through its old-fashioned flower boxes, shutters, Flemish bond brickwork and other architectural details. Two adjacent houses, built in 1755, are now a museum and are open to the public. Tiny by modern standards, the two homes were considered average size in their day. During the 19th century, eight families (27 people) shared the two homes, a situation not uncommon for the era.
During the 18th century, most businesses were home-based. Over the years, grocers, shoemakers, cabinetmakers, tailors and others worked out of the first floor of their Elfreth’s Alley houses. That changed during the 19th century Industrial Revolution, when people worked in neighborhood factories. Today’s service economy and technology have resulted in a growing trend to a return of the home-based businesses.
Deck the Alley
Date: December 3, 2016
The residents of Elfreth’s Alley open their doors for the annual Deck the Alley open house.
Admission to Deck The Alley includes seasonal refreshments, colonial carolers and an appearance from jolly old Benjamin Franklin himself.
Enjoy fireside holiday stories, a talk on Philadelphia’s holiday history by Philadelphia tour guide Ed Mauger and a special appearance by Belsnickel, a colonial “cranky Santa.”
All proceeds support the education and preservation programs of the Elfreth’s Alley Museum. For more information and ticket pricing, click the button below.
Elfreth’s Alley Museum
Located in the only homes open to the public year round, the Elfreth’s Alley Museum offers visitors guided tours and gifts. The tour, which tells the story of two dressmakers who ran a sewing business at Elfreth’s Alley, costs $5 per person.
Residents open their homes to the public only twice a year, during the aforementioned “Deck the Alley”, and June’s Fete Day.
For more information on Elfreth’s Alley, click the button below.
In the neighborhood
1020 Cherry Street Philadelphia, PA 19107
- Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District
- Alexander Inn
- The Morris House Hotel
- Holiday Inn Express
- Loews Philadelphia Hotel
- The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia
- Rodeway Inn Center City
- Philadelphia Marriott Downtown
- Residence Inn Philadelphia Center City
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Museums & Attractions
420 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19106
- Independence Hall
- The Bishop White House
- Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church
- Second Bank of the United States
- Congress Hall
- The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent
- Physick House
- The Liberty Bell Center
- Tin Angel
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Restaurants & Dining