Old City is a neighborhood in Central City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, known for its antiquated charm and many historic sites important to the birth of the United States. Wander down its narrow cobblestone streets and you'll feel like you're stepping through a time warp into 18th-century colonial America.
The neighborhood is a must-see for travelers who want to walk in the footsteps of the founding fathers. Highlights include Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center, the Betsy Ross House, Christ Church, and Carpenters' Hall. Elfreth's Alley is one of the oldest continuously inhabited residential streets in the country, lined with centuries-old homes.
Bus tours, many via open-top, double-decker buses, skirt the boundaries of Old City, but some of the landmarks are on narrow streets or in courtyards best accessible on a walking tour. Tour guides fill visitors in on the life and times of Philly's most famous resident, Benjamin Franklin, while stopping at city landmarks. Horse-drawn carriage tours are another popular option, allowing visitors to travel like their historic compatriots.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Old City is a don’t-miss for colonial history buffs and first-time Philly visitors.
- Visitors can skip the (often long) line for the Liberty Bell and view the famous national symbol through the Independence Visitor Center side window.
- The historic cobblestone streets can make the area difficult to access for strollers and wheelchairs.
How to Get There
Old City occupies the blocks between Front and Sixth streets, bounded by Florist Street to the north and Walnut Street to the south. It is easily accessible via SEPTA (bus and rail), but street parking in the area is notoriously difficult.
When to Get There
By day, the area is thick with travelers on sightseeing tours, so visit early to avoid the crowds. Expect long lines at the top attractions (especially the Liberty Bell). Nighttime ghost tours are available for those in search of a creepy thrill, and neighborhood nightlife features top-notch restaurants, bars, and clubs.
Arts and Fashion
Today’s Old City is also a hub for Philadelphia's fashion, arts, and design scene. The neighborhood has more than 30 art galleries and home furnishing outlets, and boutiques showcase collections by local fashion designers.