Travel Diaries: Elfreth's Alley | Philadelphia, PA
I stumbled across Elfreth's Alley by accident one day.
There's a lovely aerial yoga studio called Kaya in Old City, a historic neighborhood in Philadelphia. I took classes there for a while, and would absolutely recommend that you drop in to their intro-level class if you're in the area. Side note: Cafe Olé is right near Kaya. It serves Mediterranean food and is basically to die for.
Anyway, one day I parked a little further than usual from the studio, and as I walked back to my car I noticed a charming little side street.
As I am quite fond of charming streets, I turned onto what turned out to be Elfreth's Alley and spent a while taking in all of the tiny perfect details:
Elfreth's Alley is the oldest residential street in the United States of America, dating back to 1706 when Arthur Wells and John Gilbert decided their properties could be combined for use as a cart path (source). The 32 houses that line the alley were built between 1720 and 1830, and have been preserved through the efforts of residents and local historians.
I'm a sucker for a pretty door, and the residents of Elfreth's Alley have chosen such beautiful colors for their entryways! I was especially taken by this one, and even more by the cats perched in each window:
If you're hoping to take photos without crowds around, I'd go on a chilly day or early in the morning. Keep in mind that real people live there, so if you're around early morning or late at night, do stay on the quieter side.
I stroll down Elfreth's Alley just about every time I'm in Old City. I love to see it in different seasons (the Christmas decorations in particular are spectacular!) and at different times of day.
Just around the corner from Elfreth's Alley is the Betsy Ross house. The tour is only $5, and is pretty amusing depending on your mood, though definitely on the touristy side. It's worth walking past, anyway, and you can decide once you see it whether to go in for the tour.
If it's a nice day when you're in the area, be sure to walk down to the Penn's Landing area on the Delaware River. The Race St. Pier is not far from Elfreth's Alley, and you can get a close up of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge that leads into New Jersey.
Have you been to Elfreth's Alley? What's your favorite thing to see in Old City?