Today we take you on a late spring lunch break stroll in our neighborhood. We'll be heading "up Third", as some might say, an allusion to Philadelphia's grid layout. Our shop is located on the first block south of Market Street, the main east-west thoroughfare that divides the southern and northern halves of the city. This is denoted in our address, 41 S 3rd Street. But cross market and you're reset onto the northern blocks. So let's enjoy a walk north on 3rd Street and back south again.
Philadelphia is famously a city of neighborhoods, and our shop is located in one of its oldest—that's right—Old City. Settled on what used to be the bluffs of the Lena'Pe Sippu (what is now called the Delaware River), this historic area was an original if not central section of early colonial Philadelphia*.
In 2022, Old City is quietly bustling, growing ever more connected to its neighbors in the Northern Liberties, as well as those down the lower number streets headed towards South Street. Market Street stretches west from Front Street onward, an avenue to the whole of the city, full of eateries and shopping, sightseeing, art, and music. To the east, the river and its once industrial piers, now revitalized into parks and art hubs and entertainment venues.
Old City itself is brimming with boutiques and design stores, restaurants of every caliber and taste, theaters and galleries, museums and historical sites, cafes and pastry shops. It's well connected by public transportation, it's close to the waterfront, and walkers will enjoy its proximity to the rest of the city.
The brick rowhouses typical of Philadelphia, especially exemplified here.
There's Vagabond at 47 N 3rd, an amazing apparel and small home wares and vintage boutique—an Old City mainstay as far as we're concerned!
This dog refused to leave until I took its picture, and you can see why.
Philadelphia Independents is thee source in Old City for hometown-centric handmade goods. You WILL find Gritty there.
There's sights and sounds everywhere you look.
Colonial era craftsmanship on display.
The next block up we start hitting boutique central, starting with Casa Vida at 112 N 3rd.
Followed by the longstanding apparel and design boutique, Sugarcube, at 124 N 3rd. Art in the Age (not pictured) is tucked between, a must-visit for cocktail aficionados and people who love entertaining.
As we keep heading north, we encounter design ateliers and workshop boutiques like Claudia Mills on the other side of the street.
The gorgeous and beloved rennes shop and atelier at 135 N 3rd.
Of course, Old City is a neighborhood where people live and work, keeping Cafe Olé at 147 N 3rd packed and busy.
Just the cutest neighborhood hardware store we're always running to, at 153 N 3rd.
Before we head too far north, we make a right turn onto Race Street headed east towards the river. The Ben Franklin Bridge rises in this area, carrying traffic across to New Jersey.
New and interesting shops are always popping up, and you just might find your new favorite thing by poking your head inside.
Some places are tucked down the narrow cobblestone alleys characteristic of the neighborhood. Here we see the Bread Street location of River Wards Produce, right off Race.
At the turn of 2nd and Race streets we find the billboard here matches the sky. An intentional piece of art that blends perfectly on a day like this.
Down on the ground, the roads lead cars, cyclists, and pedestrians to the waterfront piers and trails.
Walking south on 2nd street, the enterprises continue to shift and change. Once a manufacturer, The National is now luxury apartments.
This building has looked like this my entire life!
2nd Street also hosts intrigues like A Four Foot Prune at 142 N 2nd…
Older relics like 140 N 2nd…
And several excellent places to pick up books and comics, like Brave New Worlds at 55 N 2nd…
Jules Goldman Books & Antiques at 29 N 2nd…
And The Book Trader at 7 N 2nd.
As well as the statue of Lenni Lenape Chief Tamanend, who faces the statue of William Penn perched atop City Hall.
Pennslanding is both the acclaimed site of where William Penn signed his treaty with the Lenni Lenape people, and a waterfront destination for festivals and recreation of all kinds.
As a kid, my family and I would trek up this pathway to attend riverside summer jazz and family friendly festivals.
But we recommend having something to eat first, then heading to the waterfront as a post-dinner treat. Here is Amada, one of dozens of delicious places to dine along Chestnut street, just one block south of Market.
And if you were just taking a little break on your lunch, like we were, well it's time to head back to work. ;)
Did we ever cover even a third of what you'll find walking the same brief loop? Heavens no. Which is why we like it here, and invite you to visit, so you can find your own favorite places in town (after us, of course).
* If you want to learn more about the layers of history in the streets of Old City, may we suggest Harry Kyriakodis' Philadelphia's Lost Waterfront book or the amazing Philadelphia: The Great Experiment