June 14, 2017

Society Hill Neighborhood Guide

Restuarants, Bars, Shops, Historic Attractions, Parks & More

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A horse-drawn carriage travels the streets of Society Hill, perhaps Philadelphia's most-visited residential area. Photo by B. Krist for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Talula's Garden is a farm-to-table oasis tucked between city buildings across from historic Washington Square. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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The Independence Seaport Museum at Penn’s Landing’s maintains one of the largest maritime collections in North America. Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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At Zahav, James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov adds a modern spin to traditional Israeli cuisine. Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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On weekends, local farmers and food purveyors bring their wares from the countryside to the landmark Head House Farmers Market. Photo by R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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With its cobblestone streets and original 18th– and 19th-century buildings from the Delaware River to 7th Street and Walnut to Lombard Streets, Philadelphia’s quaint Society Hill neighborhood remains as picture-perfect today as it was hundreds of years ago. Its proximity to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Independence Visitor Center make it hard for people to resist the appeal of walking the same streets the nation’s founders once did.

Following an era when the neighborhood was home to a number of luminaries—Samuel Powel, the first mayor of the city after independence was declared, future first lady Dolly Todd Madison and Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko, among others—the diverse neighborhood slipped into a state of decline by the late 19th and early 20th century. Despite its slump, many of the historic buildings remained, which inspired city planners—chief among them Edmund Bacon—to craft a plan that would revive Society Hill and help residents rediscover the conveniences of city living. And that it did.

Today, Society Hill is one of Philadelphia’s most sought-after neighborhoods. While mostly residential, the community boasts a comfortable combination of restaurants, historic attractions and shops that meet the needs of residents and visitors.

Restaurants & Bars:

  • Bistro Romano – Bistro Romano has been serving upscale Italian food to neighbors from both north and south of South Street since 1988. Candlelight, live piano music on Friday and Saturday nights and a private table for up to four people in the wine cellar make it a must for romance. 120 Lombard Street, (215) 925-8880, bistroromano.com
  • Blackbird Pizzeria (temporarily closed) – Philadelphia’s first all-vegan pizzeria stars pies topped with roasted cherry tomatoes, seitan sausage, arugula and pumpkin-seed pesto. Also popular are salads and loaded sandwiches, including an award-winning seitan cheesesteak. 507 S. 6th Street, (215) 625-6660, blackbirdpizzeria.com
  • Cavanaugh’s Headhouse Square – This many-roomed restaurant and bar serves classic pub food and Irish fare. Customers here can watch all sorts of sports while taking advantage of weekly specials on drinks and snacks. 421 S. 2nd Street, (215) 928-9307, cavsheadhouse.com
  • Chart House – Seafood, a selection of pastas and meats and a wide range of gluten-free options attract patrons for brunch, happy hour and dinner. Bonus: There’s no extra charge for the panoramic views of the Delaware River waterfront. 555 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 625-8383, chart-house.com
  • Cooperage Wine and Whiskey Bar – It’s easy to be dazzled by the whiskey selection here, which numbers over 100 bottles and includes some impressive cocktails. But don’t overlook the food menu, focusing on casual comfort food. Curtis Center, 123 S. 7th Street, (215) 226-2667, cooperagephilly.com
  • The Headhouse – Chicken wings, escargot and shrimp shumai share the menu at sushi master Madame Saito’s low-key spot. Pair the food offerings here with two bars, 20 beers on tap and 100 in bottles for a winning night. 122 Lombard Street, (215) 922-2515, headhousephilly.com
  • Malbec Steakhouse – Traditional Argentine fare—empanadas and grilled meats, including the whopping parrillada Argentina, a sharing platter of short ribs, sausage, blood sausage, sweetbreads and skirt steak—join homemade Italian pastas on an international menu. 402 S. 2nd Street, (215) 515-3899, malbecsteakhouse.com
  • Marrakesh – Celebrating more than 40 years in business, this hidden gem offers Moroccan dishes such as b’stella, a savory chicken and nut pastry, lamb tajine, an extensive vegetarian menu, a full bar and, for diners who have difficulty choosing, seven-course dinners. Adding to the ambiance, belly dancers perform on weekends and are available upon request on weeknights. 517 S. Leithgow Street, (215) 925-5929, marrakesheastcoast.com
  • Moshulu – Diners enjoy American contemporary cuisine on the world’s oldest and largest square-rigged ship still afloat. Lunch, dinner and brunch here come with waterfront views that patrons can admire from the inside and outside seating areas, including the newly opened Deck, featuring specialty cocktails and spiked ice pops. 401 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 923-2500, moshulu.com
  • Pizzeria Stella – Restaurateur Stephen Starr ups the ante on the neighborhood pizza place, offering specialty and creative takes on wood-fired pizzas. Innovative concoctions such as the pistachio with red onions and rosemary or the Brussels sprouts with pancetta, cipollini and smoked mozzarella are just a couple of the daring but delicious takes on traditional pizzas. 420 S. 2nd Street, (215) 320-8000, pizzeriastella.net
  • Positano Coast – If not for the 360-degree views of Society Hill, diners might think they really are dining in Amalfi. The Mediterranean-style cuisine and backdrop featuring scenes of the sweeping landscape summon up images of the Italian coast. 212 Walnut Street, 2nd floor, (215) 238-0499, positanocoast.net
  • Puyero – Small but mighty, this colorful little bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spot serves Venezuelan street food: Arepas and patacónes and house-made tropical drinks. 524 S. 4th Street, (267) 928-4584, puyeroflavor.com
  • Talula’s Daily – For a quick bite any time of day, order sandwiches, salads, prepared foods, coffee and sweets at the casual and cute order-at-the-counter sibling to Talula’s Garden—also a great spot to pick up cheese and bread to enjoy across the street in Washington Square. Beer and wine are also available. 208 W. Washington Square, (215) 592-6555, talulasdaily.com
  • Talula’s Garden – Born of the famed Talula’s Table in Chester County, this farm-to-table oasis feels like the country, right between city buildings and across the street from historic Washington Square. Dinner and Sunday brunch offer seasonal menus that star an extensive cheese selection. 210 W. Washington Square, (215) 592-7787, talulasgarden.com
  • The Twisted Tail – Progressive American cuisine isn’t the only thing on the menu here. This Bourbon juke joint serves up an impressive array of whiskeys and features live blues music most nights. 509 S. 2nd Street (215) 558-2471, thetwistedtail.com
  • Xochitl – This modern Mexican spot takes advantage of local ingredients for its fresh, inventive creations. Diners wash down entrees such as braised short rib or seafood enchiladas with award-winning tequila cocktails. 408 S. 2nd Street, (215) 238-7280, xochitlphilly.com
  • Zahav – James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov adds a modern spin to traditional Israeli cuisine and home-baked breads, all served family-style in a sophisticated setting. The tasting menu is an affordable insider favorite. 237 St. James Place, (215) 625-8800, zahavrestaurant.com

Cafes & Sweets:

  • Bodhi – This coffee haunt may be small, but it packs big flavor. Patrons enjoy house roast from Quaker City Coffee Company, loose-leaf teas from the House of Tea, baked goods and sweets from Au Fournil and High Point. 410 S. 2nd Street, (267) 239-2928, @bodhicoffee
  • Frieda – This hybrid store, gallery and café aims to bring community together over croissant sandwiches, pastries and tea to enjoy film screenings, art exhibitions and Spanish and French conversation groups. Standouts from the store include homemade jams, candies and cookies baked in a multi-generational partnership between students at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College and Philadelphia-area seniors. 320 Walnut Street, (215) 600-1291, friedaforgenerations.com
  • Homemade Goodies by Roz – This bakery serves up traditional Jewish desserts, breads and water challah. All of the house-made treats here are Parve, the highest kosher certification, and non-dairy. 510 S. 5th Street, (215) 592-9616, homemadegoodiesbyroz.weebly.com
  • Milk & Honey Café – Priding itself on locally sourced ingredients, this cafe features house-made pastries and breakfast sandwiches. 518 S. 4th Street, (215) 928-1811, milkandhoneymarket.com

Markets, Shops & Spas:

  • Bella Boutique – Offering brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, this high-end, designer-based consignment shop serves as a haven for brand-aware fashionistas. The racks are packed, but patience often is rewarded with a spectacular score. 527 S. 4th Street, (215) 923-8174, bellaboutiquephilly.com
  • Bluebond Guitars – An integral part of the Philadelphia music scene for decades, this independently owned shop offers a wide selection of electric and acoustic guitars. Its offshoot, Bluebond Music School, offers private lessons and groups students into bands to play together. 511 S. 4th Street, (215) 829-1690, bluebondguitars.com
  • Crash Bang Boom – With a fashion-forward style for all who seek a creative way to dress and live, Crash Bang Boom adorns the alternative cultures of street punk, Goth, glam and metal in band shirts, plaids and leather jackets. Men and women complete their ensembles with finishing touches and accessories such as body jewelry, boots and neon hair dye. 528 S. 4th Street, (215) 928-1123, crashbangboomonline.com
  • Head House Farmers Market – Every Sunday, the shambles at Head House bustle with activity as more than 30 local farmers and food purveyors bring their fresh produce, seafood, poultry, baked goods and other treats to this landmark market. 2nd Street between Pine & Lombard Streets, thefoodtrust.org/farmers-markets/market/headhouse
  • Nail Polish Bar & Spa – Women and men rely on nail care and eyebrow grooming here. Both walk-ins and those who do everything by appointment can take advantage of the full range of spa services seven days a week. 519 S. 2nd Street, (215) 888-6596, nailpolishbarspa.com
  • Paper Moon – When an occasion calls for great wrapping paper and the right greeting card, this quirky shop delivers. And for last-minute gifts, there is a selection of unusual and fun finds. 520 S. 4th Street, (267) 687-2780
  • Philly Bride – Catering to women of all sizes, this bridal boutique offers gowns by Hayley Paige, Sottero and Midgley, Martina Liana and more. By appointment only. 304 Walnut Street, (215) 670-9500, phillybride.com

Theater & Entertainment:

  • Ritz Five – Movie buffs can catch indie flicks and foreign films at this five-screen theater. The seats here are comfy, and the snack bar boasts tempting treats beyond the usual popcorn. 214 Walnut Street, (215) 440-1184, landmarktheatres.com
  • Spirit of Philadelphia – Buffet dining and dancing are only part of the fun on this ship. The two- to three-hour cruises along the Delaware River also treat guests to stunning skyline and waterfront views. 401 S. Columbus Boulevard, (866) 455-3866, spiritofphiladelphia.com
  • Society Hill Dance Academy – Group and individual lessons attract ballroom dancers of all ages and skill levels. No partner? No problem: Pop into the open dance sessions to meet like-minded wanna-be dancers—Friday night dance parties are open to the public. 409 S. 2nd Street, (215) 574-3574, societyhilldance.com

Historic Attractions:

  • The Athenaeum of Philadelphia – This member-supported, two-centuries-old special collections library features stately reading rooms and free, changing gallery exhibits. A National Historic Landmark, the regal brownstone remains an indispensable resource for architecture and interior design history. 219 S. 6th Street, (215) 925-2688, philaathenaeum.org
  • Bishop White House – Reverend Dr. William White, America’s first Episcopal Bishop, lived in this circa 1787 house until his death in 1836. The restored interior demonstrates the style of living in 18th-century Philadelphia—and even includes the book the bishop was reading when he died. 309 Walnut Street, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
  • The Dolley Todd House – Future first lady Dolley Todd Madison lived in this home from 1791 to 1793 with her first husband John Todd. The house contains 18th-century furnishings, just as it did when she lived there. 4th & Walnut Streets, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
  • Independence Seaport Museum – Penn’s Landing’s nautical museum maintains one of the largest maritime collections in North America, combining more than 25,000 artifacts with hands-on exhibits (including the Diligence, a full-size waterline model of a circa 1797 American topsail schooner) and two National Historic Landmark ships—the Spanish-American War cruiser Olympia and the World War II submarine Becuna— both docked nearby. 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655, phillyseaport.org
  • Hill-Physick House – Built in 1786 by Madeira wine importer and financier of the American Revolution Henry Hill, this house remains the largest freestanding Federal-style mansion in the Historic District. Dr. Philip Syng Physick, physician to 19th-century elite, eventually moved into the house in 1815. While the artifacts and medical equipment designed and pioneered by Dr. Physick are fascinating, the melodrama of his personal life is what makes a tour here so captivating. 321 S. 4th Street, (215) 925-7866, philalandmarks.org/physick-house
  • Polish American Cultural Center and Museum – Memorabilia, artifacts, arts and crafts celebrate Polish culture and the accomplishments of such famous leaders as Pope John Paul II, Marie Sklodowska-Curie, Nicolaus Copernicus and Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko, among others. Don’t miss the intricate and elaborately painted Pisanka eggs that are one of Poland’s signature crafts. 308 Walnut Street, (215) 922-1700, polishamericancenter.org
  • Powel House – The home of Samuel Powel, Philadelphia’s first mayor, is the epitome of 18th-century elegance. On any given evening during its heyday, the houseguest list included John Adams, Ben Franklin and the Marquis de Lafayette. View the china gifted by Martha Washington, or dance the minuet on the same floors where she and George celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. 244 S. 3rd Street, (215) 627-0364, philalandmarks.org/powel-house
  • Thaddeus Kosciuszko House – After introducing the Colonial troops to innovative military engineering techniques that helped defeat the British, the former Polish count returned to Philadelphia where he entertained numerous dignitaries in his residence. A modest home for such a renowned war hero, the house features documents from his military achievements, personal belongings and furnishings. 301 Pine Street, (215) 597-8787, nps.gov/thko/index.htm

Historic Churches & Cemeteries:

  • Historic Congregation B’nai Abraham – With a congregation formed in 1874 for Russian Jews fleeing Czar Alexander II, this 1910 building was the first in the city constructed to serve specifically as a synagogue. The congregation is active to this day. 527 Lombard Street, (215) 238-2100, phillyshul.com
  • Holy Trinity Church – This first German national parish in the United States, now part of Old St. Mary’s, was formed in 1784. In 1797, the charitable parish established the nation’s first Catholic orphanage for children whose families died in the Yellow Fever epidemic. 613 Spruce Street, (215) 923-7930, oldstmary.com
  • Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church – Founded by Bishop Richard Allen in 1794, Mother Bethel AME Church sits on the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African-Americans. The museum houses artifacts dating back to the original building, traces the history and international growth of the AME church, includes Bishop Allen’s tomb and offers free tours almost daily. 419 S. 6th Street, (215) 925-0616, motherbethel.org
  • Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church and Cemetery – The list of worshippers from the church’s earliest days, including John Adams, reads like an 18th-century who’s who. The burial ground is the final resting place for signers of the U.S. Constitution, members of the Continental Congress, Revolutionary War soldiers and others. 412 Pine, (215) 925-8051, oldpine.org
  • Old St. Joseph’s Catholic Church – Established in 1733 and tucked away on a cobblestone alley to avoid scrutiny from 18th-century anti-Catholic forces, this church is the oldest in Philadelphia’s Catholic community. It still maintains an active congregation. 321 Willings Alley, (215) 923-1733, oldstjoseph.org
  • Old St. Mary’s Church and Cemetery – Although small by modern standards, St. Mary’s served as the first cathedral in Philadelphia. The names on the headstones in the burial grounds read like a roll call of American history: Commodore Barry, Father of the American Navy, Thomas Fitzsimons, signer of the U.S. Constitution, and other Revolutionary and Civil War heroes. 252 S. 4th Street, (215) 923-7930, oldstmary.com
  • St. Peter’s Church and Cemetery – Standing on ground donated by William Penn’s grandsons—the family coat of arms is above the pulpit—this house of worship opened in 1761 and still looks much as it did when the Washingtons attended services. The cemetery is the final resting place of Colonel John Nixon, deliverer of the first public reading of Declaration of Independence, and Charles Wilson Peale. 313 Pine Street, (215) 925-5968, stpetersphila.org
  • Society Hill Synagogue – Originally built as a Baptist church, the building changed ownership and became a synagogue in 1910. In keeping with its original philosophy, the church offers refuge to persecuted people of all faiths and backgrounds. 418 Spruce Street, (215) 922-6590, societyhillsynagogue.org

Parks, Public Spaces, Murals & Memorials:

  • Irish Memorial – For the 150th anniversary of Ireland’s Great Hunger of the 1840s, Glenna Goodacre created this 30-foot-long bronze memorial. More than two dozen life-sized figures convey the story of the multitudes who died in the old country, as well as the hundreds of thousands who crowded onto disease-ridden ships for the Great Migration to America. 100 S. Front Street, irishmemorial.org
  • Korean War Memorial – Heroes of “the Forgotten War” are honored in this memorial. Granite carvings recall those who gave their lives and follow the history of the Korean War. Front & Dock Streets, (215) 463-5800
  • Mapping Courage: Honoring W.E.B. Du Bois and Engine #11 – One of more than 3,800 super-sized works created by Mural Arts Philadelphia, this mural by artist Willis Humphrey depicts W.E.B. Du Bois towering over a city scene with papers flowing from his hand. The survey that Du Bois is holding was the basis for his famous 1899 paper The Philadelphia Negro. 6th & South Streets, (215) 685-0750, muralarts.org
  • Philadelphia Vietnam Veteran Memorial – Philadelphians have always served when called, and the Vietnam War was no exception. Subtle but powerful, this memorial honors the men and women who lost their lives during the Vietnam conflict. Spruce Street between Columbus Boulevard & Front Street, pvvm.org
  • Rose Garden – Although the full beauty of this garden comes into bloom in June, it provides a year-round escape from the fast pace of city life. Created to honor those who fought in the Revolutionary War, the garden includes approximately 250 roses representing 96 varieties. Between Walnut & Locust Streets and 4th & 5th Streets, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde/rose-garden.htm
  • Three Bears Park – Named for the statues in the center of the green, this charming pocket park, is not too big and not too small. Wee ones romp on children’s swings, monkey bars and other equipment while parents and caregivers socialize in this friendly spot. Delancey Street between 3rd & 4th Streets, threebearspark.org
  • Washington Square Park – One of William Penn’s original squares marks the end of the developed portion of his original plan for Philadelphia. The former animal pasture and burial ground remains a peaceful place, now popular for picnicking and playing. 6th & Walnut Streets, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde

 

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