Want to visit the nation’s oldest, continuously inhabited street? Look no further than Elfreth’s Alley in the heart of Historic Philadelphia!
One of the many stops on our Big Red Pedal tour, this alley is a unique peek into the past:
While the City of Philadelphia is constantly thriving and changing around the alleyway, the alley preserves over three centuries of evolution through its cobblestone streets, flower boxes, shutters, brickwork and architectural details. Butchers, bakers, and people of all trades once inhabited this alleyway, which was named for a blacksmith and property-owner Jeremiah Elfreth.
Though tiny to our eyes, the trinity-style homes, some of which were built as early as the 1750’s, were considered average size in their day, now make up a museum that is open to the public, and nearly 300 years later, the houses on the cobblestone street are now considered hot properties.
The museum is located in two of the homes, which are the only two homes open to the public year round, and tell the story of two dressmakers who ran a sewing business at Elfreth’s Alley. During the 18th century, most businesses were home-based and the houses on Elfreth’s Alley have served as grocery stores and an array of shops where shoemakers, cabinetmakers, tailors and others worked out of the first floors of their homes.
During our tour, you may explore and take pictures in the alley, featuring a prominent flag of Great Britain, as well as join the rankings of what the locals call “jumpers” for the way tourists jump to look through the living room windows of the historic houses.
Residents on the block live a different life than what the rest of Philadelphia is used to: There is no street parking and no garages, so many residents don’t have cars. They don’t even have cable TV (thank goodness for Netflix), so we challenge you to look closely to see if you can find satellite dishes hidden among the architecture (it is the 21st century after all!).
Whether you can survive without cable TV or not, Elfreth’s Alley is like stepping into another century and a “can’t miss stop” on our Big Red Pedal tour.
Sign up for a ride here to explore Elfreth’s Alley and the surrounding area during our “Historic Square Mile Tour”!