Muscat Daily - - BREAK -

In Philadel­phia’s Old City neigh­bour­hood near the Delaware River, close to In­ter­state 95, is a his­toric cob­ble­stoned street lined with 32 houses built in the Geor­gian and Fed­eral styles.

These houses with their old­fash­ioned flower boxes, shut­ters and Flem­ish bond brick­work pro­vide visi­tors a glimpse of how Philadel­phia was in the early 18th cen­tury.

Elfreth's Al­ley is named af­ter Jeremiah Elfreth, a black­smith and land spec­u­la­tor, who built and rented out many of the al­ley's homes.

Of­ten the homes were rented to fel­low ar­ti­sans such as ship­wrights, sil­ver and pewter smiths, glass­blow­ers, shoe­mak­ers, wagon builders and car­pen­ters. These peo­ple were the back­bone of colo­nial Philadel­phia.

Elfreth's Al­ley didn’t orig­i­nally ap­pear in Wil­liam Penn’s blue­prints for Philadel­phia. Penn wanted to build Philadel­phia more like an English ru­ral town with wide streets, gar­dens and or­chards.

But the de­mand for land in prox­im­ity to the Delaware River erased Penn’s dream of a bu­colic coun­try town.

The city’s in­hab­i­tants, con­sist­ing mostly of trades­men and ar­ti­sans, crowded by the Delaware River, close to the ports where goods and ma­te­ri­als ar­rived.

In or­der to ease the crowd­ing and fa­cil­i­tate eas­ier ac­cess to the river, two landown­ers, Arthur Wells and John Gil­bert, com­bined their prop­er­ties be­tween Front and Sec­ond Streets to open Elfreth’s Al­ley.

Through­out the 18th cen­tury, gro­cers, shoe­mak­ers, cab­i­net­mak­ers, tai­lors and oth­ers who lived at Elfreth's Al­ley con­ducted busi­ness out of their homes.

The houses that they in­hab­ited ranged be­tween two and four sto­ries. In ad­di­tion, res­i­dents of­ten used the front room on the first floor as work­places and shops, while the kitchen and up­per lev­els served as pri­vate space for the fam­ily.

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