Rittenhouse Square is one of five open squares which William Penn formed the Philadelphia metropolis and since its inception has been equated to upscale living. For many centuries, it has served as one of the most covered addresses in Philadelphia where the city?s rich and famous live.
When William Penn instructed his surveyor to come up with a city blueprint in 1682, the plan showed five ?squares? which are actually open spaces in line with Penn?s vision for a green country town. These five squares where placed in such a manner that one is located in the middle of the city while the four others were situated at the corners of the developing town.
Rittenhouse Square was originally named Southwest Square because of its location. It was formerly used as a livestock grazing area just like the other squares. But unlike the other squares, it was not utilized as a burial ground.
Soon, Rittenhouse Square was crowded with wealthy residents and in 1816, they clamored for the area to be fenced and they started collecting money for the project. Trees and footpaths were introduced in the following years. It was formally named Rittenhouse Square in 1825 to pay tribute to David Rittenhouse, a homegrown instrument crafter and astronomer.
Rittenhouse Square officially became the most chic address in Philadelphia by 1850 and at the beginning of the 1900s it was well-known to house numerous Victorian high societies. Some of the homes where they resided are still standing.
The transformation of the Rittenhouse Square to what it is today started in 1913 as a result of architect Paul Philippe Cret?s new design. A reflecting pool and fountain was added to the central plaza and still remains as one of the favorite places where people hang out during their lunch breaks. Expertly crafted lampposts, authentic Greek urns and a variety of trees were also introduced to the square.
Diagonal pathways can be found in the square where distinct sculptures can also be found to be seen by everyone. Some of the notable sculptures here are ?Lion Crushing a Serpent? which is an 1832 piece created by French sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye and the quirky ?Duck Girl of 1911? carved by Paul Manship. There is also a bronze bust of a billy goat, a larger than life frog and a couple of stone canines.
A number of the original mansions that once stood in Rittenhouse Square were torn down to give way for condominiums and apartments and some of Philadelphia?s most high-end hotels. Tots are often seen playing on the greenery, while the art buffs look at the sculptures and local executives taking their lunch break. Rittenhouse Square is just a stone?s throw away from a number of Philadelphia?s historic landmarks.