Old City was founded by William Penn in 1861. This makes Old City the oldest neighborhood in Philadelphia & home to some of the most historically rich sites in the nation. It is a vibrant neighborhood full of bars, restaurants, museums, cultural sites, galleries & boutiques. Recently Old City was named one of the Top 12 Art Places in the nation for 2013 & The New York Times recognized Old City in a piece title “Four Square Blocks”. Old City is serviced by a number of civic, business & development associations including the Old City Civic Association, the Old City Arts Association & the Old City District.
What Are the Boundaries?
Front Street to the East, Sixth Street to the West, Callowhill Street to the North & Walnut Street to the South.
Restaurants, Bars & Nightlife
Old City is a destination for nightlife. Back in 1990 a zoning restriction making it harder to open bars North of Market Street. This, in essence, created a concentration of bars & restaurants on Front & 3rd between Market & Chestnut. Some of our favorite bars & restaurants are Amada, Continental (the original), Revolution House, Cuba Libre & Positano Coast. North of Market Street you will find some great BYOB’s like Chloe, Radicchio, La Locanda del Ghiottone & Wedge & Fig (who has the cutest hidden garden you can sit & eat in when it’ s nice out & a make your own grilled cheese menu…sigh).
Galleries & Art Destinations
In the early 90’s the gallery owners got together to implement First Friday. On the First Friday of every month year round rain or shine from 5-9 you can wander around & enjoy Open Houses at the galleries & boutiques of the neighborhood. There are also street vendors & artists selling their wares on the sidewalks. Sometimes you can even catch an impromptu musical performance. Wexler Gallery, F.A.N. Gallery, Old City Jewish Arts Center, Rodger Lapelle Gallery, Rosenfeld Gallery, Pentimenti Gallery & Muse Gallery just to name a few. Take a sculpting or wheel class at the Clay Studio on 2nd Street or a dance class at the Philadelphia Dance Academy on Church Street. Catch a live show at the Arden Theater or check out small indie/art films at one of three Landmark Theaters Ritz locations. The Ritz is known for their upscale concessions & a tip from me….Wednesday evenings you can catch a flick for $6.50!
There is no actual grocer in Old City, however, it is in close proximity to the Reading Terminal market in Market East & the Super Fresh in Northern Liberties. The Reading Terminal market offers parking for $4.00 at 2 adjacent garages for up to 2 hours with a $10.00 minimum purchase from any market vendor. The Super Fresh has it’s own parking garage plus a great state store on the ground floor.
Old City has a great Farmers Market on Tuesdays from 2-7 in season on Church Street between 2nd & 3rd. They have fruits, vegetables, nut butters, meats, cheeses & sometimes prepared foods. The Headhouse Square Farmer’s Market in Society Hill is also nearby if the weekends work better in your schedule. Open every Saturday & Sunday May – December from 10-2 this market boasts over 30 vendors who offer some of the best fruits, vegetables, flowers, artisan chocolates & cheeses, local honey & fresh bakery items. Tip: get there early…this market gets packed & bring cash.
Most of the many boutiques for clothing are located right on 3rd Street including the 3rd Street Habit, the new Geisha House, Lost & Found, Vagabond, Three Sirens & Sugarcube. Get your furniture fix at Mode Moderne, Host Interiors, Impact Imports, Milliseme, Roche Bobois, Dane Decor, Ligne Roset, reMOD, Jonathan Adler (bright poppy colors? yes, please!) & Minima. For fabulous hostess gifts or a little something for yourself check out Scarlett Alley & Gourmet of Olde City (deceptively large…go in…you will be pleased, I promise). I am a huge fan of the Book Trader on 2nd Street. AKA music is a great place to get cheap vinyl. We’ve noticed record players are making a HUGE comeback. There are also a number of salons, florists & places to get kitchen wares.
Christ Church has a very nicely maintained park with a large fence around it where you can let your dog play. This is one of my favorite spots to take my mid day break & people/puppy watch. Independence Mall is a huge green space surrounded by many of the neighborhoods historical sites. The Race Street Pier is an amazing reuse of an old pier. This is a great place to get a work out in, spread a blanket & have a picnic or just sit on a quiet bench & watch the water & wish our waterfront was more pedestrian friendly. I am always amazed how few people actually utilize this space! They really did a fabulous job.
Parking & Public Transportation
Old City has a lot of public transportation options. The subway stop at 2nd & Market can take you right into Center City, West Philly or North Philly. There are quite a few bus routes that service the area as well. There are many private parking lots & garages. One of our favorite websites for finding parking rates is bestparking.com. There is even a free app. Get it now. Thank us later. Street spaces are plenty especially North of Market & the Market Street bridge. Obviously this is depending on the time of day; just be careful of the PPA! According to the Old City District metered parking is free Wednesday’s after 5:00 p.m., First Friday after 5:00 p.m. & Saturday’s after 11 a.m. between Thanksgiving & New Year’s Day. Since the PPA is ruthless please check the website before taking this advice. They could change it any minute on us!
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