Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
You’re almost to fall break and the weather is just starting to tinge with autumnal crispness. This Sunday is the Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival, a chance to see enjoy live music, crafts, and the beautiful Dragon Boat Regatta along Kelly Drive. This weekend, continuing our area-by-area tour of popular Philadelphia neighborhoods, I’m highlighting some of the possible adventures in Old City, a neighborhood ideal for history buffs, a night on the town, and art aficionados.
The area north of Market St. between 7th and Front Street has been affectionately dubbed “Old City” for its concentration of historic attractions. On the walk from the Market East Train station, you’ll pass the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (between 6th and 5th) and if you go North a block on 5th you can check out Benjamin Franklin’s Grave in the Christ Church cemetery (opposite the U.S. Mint).
Staying on Arch and heading East (towards the Delaware River) you’ll pass the Betsy Ross House and if you turn up 2nd Street you can check out Elfreth’s Alley, a tiny cobblestone street preserved from the early 18th century (dated to 1702). At 16 feet wide, it’s claimed to be the narrowest city street in the world and is still trafficked and lived in. Take your parents or history major friends and impress them.
Ironically, Old City is also one of the most popular neighborhoods for young crowds (ie- university students) and boasts several popular clubs and excellent restaurants. Along South 2nd Street you’ll pass the pricey European-style club “32Âº,” the flashy “Glam,” and “Cuba Libre,” a Cuban restaurant renowned for the best mojitos in Philadelphia.
Finally, Old City is a great place for those interested in art, particularly this Friday (and every other first Friday of the month) when gallery doors are opened to art enthusiasts and curious crowds. Over forty galleries open from 5-9 pm, many of which are in the blocks between Front and Third, Market and Vine.