Welcome to Historic District
An urban community with a rich history, old-town charm, and stunning architecture.
Photo courtesy of Curbed Philly
The two neighborhoods of Old City and Society Hill make up the Historic District in Philadelphia, Pa. They are among the best-preserved and most exciting neighborhoods in the United States. The Historic District features unique architecture, American history like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, and a grid street plan that hearkens to the neighborhood’s 18th-century origins. These streets were once the center of the city, and they retain much of the charm and character that Old City and Society Hill are famous for, each having its own unique history, architecture, and residents.
The homes here are some of the oldest in the country, having once housed some of the very people who helped shape our democracy. Most Old City and Society Hill structures are built with Federal, Greek Revival, and Italianate architecture, are constructed of brick, and feature arches, steep roofs, and a more compartmental interior layout common to colonial architecture. Typically they are well-maintained, many with colonial-era decorative additions and colorful window boxes. Home to millions of tourists a year, the Historic District is one of the most walkable in the city with plenty of nearby restaurants, beer gardens, small shops, and art galleries. Old City is also known for its historic churches, with several listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
What to Love
- The birthplace of the nation
- Beautiful buildings and architecture
- Walkable shops, eateries, and community events
- Stunning water views and landscaped parks
- Proximity to downtown Philadelphia
The lifestyle in Old City and Society Hill is distinct from the lifestyles in the rest of Philadelphia. Old City and Society Hill are home to affluent residents with high incomes and education levels. Old City, the historic district with narrow, old streets lined with brick homes and old-world charm, is a one-of-a-kind neighborhood in the U.S. The area is also known for its cobblestone streets and Italian Market, a covered food market with stalls selling fresh produce and prepared foods. Next door, Society Hill is mostly residential; the neighborhood was revitalized after having declined in the early 20th century. The downtown area in the Historic District is also known for its walkable shops, restaurants, and museums.
Dining, Entertainment & Shopping
In the Old City and Society Hill neighborhoods, residents are known for their love of shopping and dining. The Italian Market is a covered pedestrian market in Old City that features fresh produce and prepared foods. The cobblestone streets of Old City are lined with boutiques and galleries like Sugarcube and Omoi Zakka. If you appreciate woodworking, be sure to stop in the Center for Art in Wood.
The Historic District is also home to several popular restaurants, which feature fresh foods and local and seasonal ingredients. 2nd Story Brewing is a rustic pub that brews and serves handcrafted beer and globally influenced dishes. Amada is a warm and intimate eatery that serves modern Spanish dishes and features a chef’s counter and open kitchen. Buddakan is an upscale Asian restaurant that serves dishes like edamame dumplings and Kobe beef. The dining area is dramatic with a 10-foot-tall Buddha and an elegant indoor and outdoor setting.
If you’re looking to entertain the family, you’ll appreciate the Delaware River waterfront. The regular roster of waterfront events includes art galleries, wellness classes, and Taco Tuesdays. You also should check out Spruce Street Harbor Park on the pier near Penn’s Landing.
Things to Do
The Historic District is home to many historic buildings, including the National Constitution Center, with exhibits about the history of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the Independence Visitors Center, which features exhibits about the history of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The Historic District also has many small parks to explore with statues and historical information. Spruce Street Harbor Park is a unique park with colorful hammocks, floating gardens, and seating areas and is within walking distance of shops and restaurants. In the northwest corner of Society Hill, Washington Square Park serves a dual purpose as a memorial and urban green space.
Old City and Society Hill students are served by The School District of Philadelphia, the eighth-largest school system in the United States. There is also a range of private and parochial schools in the Historic District.