INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ELFRETH'S ALLEY
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.