Wonder how it feels like to be warped into another period in history? Well, visitors of Elfreth?s Alley will surely be taken back years back once they step into what is dubbed as one of United States? most antiquated continually occupied neighborhoods.
Situated in Center City Philadelphia, Efreth?s Alley was formed when two men decided to merge their properties to establish a small village composed of row homes in 1702. Majority of the abodes that remain standing in the residential street were constructed from 1728 to 1836 with approximately 3,000 individuals occupying the houses spanning more than three centuries. Today, 32 original houses remain standing which offers a sneak preview of how people during that era went about their everyday lives.
Most of the residents who settled in Elfreth?s Alley during the 18th and 19th century were artists and craftsmen. They put up businesses and took care of the operations from the comforts of their own homes. Records also reveal that during the height of the Industrial Revolution, many of those who lived here were European immigrants who went to the United States to be part of the burgeoning workforce triggered by the mushrooming of factories.
However, the homes flanking Elfreth?s Alley began deteriorating and the local city government mulled on tearing down the historic homes many times, specifically to make space for new roads. Just before the onset of World War II, concerned residents formed a group to stop the demolition of the antique houses and has for several years has worked clockwork to raise money in order to renovate the houses.
Only two of the 32 houses here are accessible by the public and everything else are privately owned, although people visiting the alley can still whip out their cameras and take snapshots of the astonishing colonial houses. The houses in Elfreth?s Alley that are opened to the public are Houses 124 and 126. House 124 is actually the gift shop of the alley while House 126 was previously owned and constructed by blacksmith Jeremiah Elfreth which the alley takes its name after. There were also two dressmakers who lived here and visiting this particular house will give guests and idea on the lives of colonial American women. Visitors can opt for either self-guided or guided tours.
Elfreth?s Alley is also a setting for special and rare events such as musical performances and special showcases by local artists.