btwn. Front and N. 2nd Sts. and Race and Arch Sts.,
Museum Shop in House 124, 215/574-0560
HOURS: Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m. Mar.–Oct.; Thurs.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m. Nov.–Feb.
COST: Tours $5 adult, $1 child (ages 6–18), free 5 and under, tours offered on the hour and half hour
Yes, it’s cliché, but walking through this narrow cobblestone street is a bit like stepping back in time. Occupied since 1702, Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the United States. Federal and Georgian homes—complete with horse posts and shoe scrapes—have been immaculately preserved, and the entire street is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Properties.
Small by today’s standards, one of the homes is said to have housed up to 27 people from eight different families at a time. There’s very little car traffic and no modern appliances visible in the windows looking out on the 16-foot-wide street, making the bustle of Old City feel far away, even though it’s just around the corner.
Elfreth’s Alley is named after blacksmith Jeremiah Elfreth, one of the 18th-century artisans and tradespeople who lived here, and who was responsible for building many of the homes. In 1755, he built the house that stands today as a museum and the only home regularly open to the public.
If possible, visit on Fete Day, typically the first or second Saturday in June, when many homes on the street open their doors to the public, with music, a parade, and historical reenactments on the street. Or come for the holiday open house, usually the second Saturday in December; check the website for exact dates.