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Elfreth's Alley in Philadelphia - Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

The history of Elfreth' s Alley in Philadelphia

If ever you get to visit Philadelphia then there are an abundance of things that will via for your attention and time. In fact, the list is so long and the time needed is so great that much smaller, and in my opinion, just as interesting sights can easily pass by unnoticed. During a recent visit, I made a point of seeking out one of these places.

Tucked away just off of a busy street in Philadelphia’s Old City is what I think is one of the city’s most interesting historical destinations and it is called Elfreth’s Alley. I should say that unlike most things in Philadelphia it is not all about independence and revolution.

To an unknowing passerby, Elfreth’s Alley might not look that much different than any of the other residential streets in Philadelphia. Despite its benign look and the large official sign, Elfreth’s Alley is one of the city’s most historic places.

It was on this narrow passageway that Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross often walked. It was also along this street that William Penn’s message of tolerance was widely adopted as shopkeepers of different nationalities, races, and genders worked side-by-side, something that was almost unheard of in the 18th century.

However, despite the large amount of history that occurred along Elfreth’s Alley, what makes it special is something entirely different. It is America’s oldest, continually resident street.

The first houses on Elfreth’s Alley were built in 1702, though those standing today date from between 1728 and 1836. Over 300 years later, almost every house is still inhabited by a family who maintains the homes to look very similar to how they did in the 18th century.

This gives you the ability to easily imagine life in pre-Revolutionary War Philadelphia. It also gives you a chance to contrast colonial life with modern life, as you may spot a modern mailman, trash collector, or even delivery service truck going about their daily business on this historical street.

Even better, there’s no telling whose footsteps you may be walking in. While I mentioned above that Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross frequented Elfreth’s Alley, there surely were other famous early Americans who did as well. After all, most of the Founding Fathers spent over half their public careers within a few blocks of this historic residential street.

However, Elfreth’s Alley wasn’t just a residential street as you will learn in the second part of this article.

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