Monday, October 8, 2018


I love this picture.  It is so typically Old City Philadelphia.  This is definitely not Elfreth's Alley, but it reminded me of it with the narrow street, so I thought I would tell you about another wonderful place in my hometown.

Elfreth's Alley is a historic street in Philly dating back to 1702.  There are 32 houses on the street dating back to 1728.  I am fortunate enough to know someone who lives there.  He is the head of the Human Relations department for the library.  I used to work with his mother who I loved dearly.  Such a sweet lady.  Sadly I attended her funeral about two years ago.

But let me tell you more about Elfreth's Alley.  

As you can see, it really is an alley.  No car could possibly go down this street.

The alley was named for Jeremiah Elfreth, an 18th century blacksmith and property owner.  Shipwrights, pewter and silver smiths, glassblowers and furniture makers and their families lived here.  In the 1770s one-third of the houses on this block were headed by women.  The style of houses and the cobblestone street were common in colonial Philadelphia.  There are still many streets that look like this.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries industry began to change this street.  In 1868 a stove factory moved onto the street and eventually factories surrounded Elfreth's Alley.  Immigrants lured by the jobs began to move onto the street.  In 1900 the street and the surrounding neighborhood was overwhelmingly Irish.

In 1934 the Elfreth's Alley Association was formed to preserve these historic houses.  The association helped save the street from demolition and changed the name back to Elfreth's Alley (it had been changed to Cherry Street).  

Today Elfreth's Alley is the product of historic preservation efforts.  It is a tourist attraction and a rare surviving example of 18th century working class houses.

This is the Elfreth's Alley Museum.  It preserves the 18th century home of a pair of dressmakers.  Guides take you through the house and describe life not only in this house, but in others on the street.  For more than 70 years some of the homeowners open their houses to the public in June so you can see more than just the museum.

File:Elfreth's Alley.JPG

I want to thank Beyond My Ken for the use of their wonderful pictures.  If you would like to see more of their work or purchase them, please see their web page.

Hope you enjoyed this little bit of history to start your week.  Have a wonderful Monday.  It's just the start to a lovely week ahead.



  1. This is such an interesting place! I took the tour & the houses are really small by our houses today. Some of older appliances are still working! I believe that there is a Christmas tour as well. Well worth the visit if you go.

  2. I enjoy history and would love to visit Elfreth's Alley. Thank you for sharing part of your beautiful city. Have a nice Monday.

  3. It is a most informative post. We still have cobblestone streets in part of our cities...seems they try to keep them for historical purposes. Very good that the width does not allow a car to pass, but how do people living and working there get to their homes with things they need like groceries, furniture or whatever?

    1. I've often wondered that myself. I guess everything has to be carried in by person.

  4. Oh wow, I love it! I love history and these old houses and neighborhoods. It must have been fun living in this alley. Thank you so much for sharing the info and the photos. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  5. Great POST!!!
    I love History! The pictures are so enchanting. Makes me want to tour in June!

  6. What a lovely place to preserve and to visit! I'm glad they stepped in to keep it from demolition. I would love living there, I think! (Except for the snow!)

  7. I love the narrow streets! I hope to visit up your way someday!

  8. Kathy, I love that street. What fun to live there. No traffic. LOL. I am glad they changed the name back. Makes more sense. I love all that history, thank you !. Blessings, xoxo, Susie

  9. It has been years since I was in Elpreth’s Alley, Kathy, but I do know it from my college days in Philadelphia. Thanks for a trip down memory lane and nice history.

  10. Interesting area in your city. The houses are so beautiful! Thanks for sharing this historical area with us, Kathy! Have a great week!🍁🌷

  11. Love the leaves when they fall on the ground.


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