Archives: February 2013

The Story of The Neck: Philadelphia's Vanished Marshlands

Posted on: February 28, 2013

We came across this interesting little article in Hidden City Philadelphia and it made us think of how far we have come as a city in so little time. Our now cosmopolitan city of high rise condos and world-renowned restaurants was once, not too long ago, a mere pitstop between much more exciting cities on the Northeast corridor.  As the following story illustrates, only 60 or 70 years ago there were pig farms and shanty towns within city limits! Where Citizen’s Bank Park now sits, there was marshlands and livestock. Enjoy this story, written by Philadelphian John Vidumsky about a battle for land and the dissolution of an area of Philadelphia once called “The Neck”. CONTINUE READING

Neighborhood Profile: MT. AIRY

Posted on: February 25, 2013

History:  William Allen, a prominent Philadelphia merchant and Chief Justice of the Province of Pennsylvania, created his summer estate and mansion on Germantown Avenue at Allens Lane in 1750, and the area eventually took the building’s name, Mount Airy, as its own. Before this, the area which makes up the modern neighborhood of Mount Airy was part of two sections of the original Germantown Township (which covered all of Germantown, Mount Airy, and Chestnut Hill), Cresheim and Beggarstown.

Much of modern Mount Airy was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, spreading out from Germantown Avenue and two railroad lines. Large three-story, gray-stone Victorian, colonial revival, and Norman and Cotswold-style houses and mansions, with stained glass windows and slate roofs, are situated on many of the area’s tree-lined streets. They dominated districts like West Mount Airy’s Pelham section, East Mount Airy’s Gowen Avenue, Sedgwick Farms, and Stenton areas.

If you drive through Mt. Airy, what you see might perplex you, catch you off guard, strike you as unusual. More than one local bumper sticker claims “Unity In Diversity”, and indeed, difference is the heartbeat of the place. In Mt. Airy, like almost nowhere else in the country, you can’t generalize about the inhabitants’ ethnicities, incomes, religions, sexual orientations, preferences in music, or even likelihood of shoveling when it snows…

This poster child of a diverse neighborhood is a refuge for the unorthodox and the ostracized, people who’ve broken from family, community of origin, or previous self. It is also a place for the aesthetically betwixt and between, those who want both a yard and an easy commute to the center of town. Welcome to a neighborhood where people of just about every race, religion, class, belief system, and sexual orientation come together and play very nicely.

(From Wikipedia / O Magazine)

Boundaries: Mount Airy is bounded on the northwest by the Cresheim Valley, which is part of Fairmount Park. On the west side is the Wissahickon Gorge, which is also part of Fairmount Park.  Germantown borders the southeast of Mount Airy, and Stenton Avenue marks the northeast border.

Zip Code:  19119

What To See / Do: Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, Awbury Arboretum, Cliveden, Wissahickon Park, More Info

Dining, Shopping and Events: Go Mt Airy

Schools:  Public: Charles W. Henry School, Henry H. Houston School, Anna L. Lingelbach School  (K-8), Germantown High School.

Charter: West Oak Lane Charter School and Wissahickon Charter School (K-8).

Private: Green Tree School (ages 6–21), Blair Christian Academy (PreK-12), Revival Hill Christian School (9-12), Islamic Day School of Philadelphia (PreK-5), Waldorf School of Philadelphia (PreK-8), Project Learn School (K-8), Classroom on Carpenter Lane (K-2), and Holy Cross School (K-8).

Public Transportation:  Two SEPTA Regional Rail lines connect the neighborhood to Center City. The Chestnut Hill West Line runs through West Mount Airy with stops at Allen Lane, Carpenter and Upsal stations, and the Chestnut Hill East Line through East Mount Airy with stops at Mount Airy, Sedgwick and Stenton stations—Washington Lane station is in Germantown across the street from Mount Airy.

The neighborhood is also served by SEPTA bus routes 18, 23 (formerly a trolley line), 53 (formerly a trolley line), H, and L.


Lonely Planet Names Philadelphia in Top 10 U.S. Destination!

Posted on: February 22, 2013

Lonely Planet put together a list of the top U.S. travel desinations for 2013 and Philadelphia came in at Number Four! See the post below from


4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Forget the cheesesteaks and tri-corner hat, Philadelphia is becoming known as an art capital. In addition to the world renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art, the formerly remote the Barnes Foundation, a once private collection of Matisse, Renoir and Cézanne, has a new central location. And it’s not just the big museums – Philly’s gallery scene is exploding with new venues like the Icebox garnering international attention and turning the Northern Liberties and Fishtown neighborhoods into the new hot arts hub. First Fridays, the monthly gallery open house, long a tradition in Old City, has expanded to the refurbished Loft District, where the party goes on in a host of new bars, clubs and live music venues.

Neighborhood Profile: RITTENHOUSE SQUARE

Posted on: February 18, 2013

History:  Rittenhouse Square is one of the five original open-space parks planned by William Penn and his surveyor Thomas Holme during the 17th centuryBy the late 1700s the square was surrounded by brickyards as the area’s clay terrain was better suited for kilns than crops. In 1825 the square was renamed in honor of Philadelphian David Rittenhouse, the brilliant astronomer, instrument maker and patriotic leader of the Revolutionary era.

A building boom began by the 1850s, and in the second half of the 19th century the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood became the most fashionable residential section of the city, the home of Philadelphia’s “Victorian aristocracy.” Some mansions from that period still survive on the streets facing the square, although most of the grand homes gave way to apartment buildings after 1913.

In 1816, local residents loaned funds to the city to buy a fence to enclose Rittenhouse Square. In the decade before the Civil War, the Square boasted not only trees and walkways, but also fountains donated by local benefactors – prematurely, it turned out, for the fountains created so much mud that City Council ordered them removed. The square’s present layout dates from 1913, when the newly formed Rittenhouse Square Improvement Association helped fund a redesign by Paul Philippe Cret, a French-born architect who contributed to the design of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the Rodin Museum. Although some changes have been made since then, the square still reflects Cret’s original plan. (From Wikipedia /Visit Philly)

Boundaries: Rittenhouse Square neighborhood boundaries for real estate purposes are 22nd street to the West, Broad Street to the East, Market Street to the North and South Street to the South.

Zip Code:  19103

What To See / Do: Rosenbach Museum and Gallery , Rittenhouse Square , Mutter Museum , Curtis Institute of Music

Dining, Shopping and Events: Rittenhouse Row

Schools: Albert M. Greenfield School , South Philadelphia High School

Public Transportation:  All SEPTA Regional Rail lines stop at Suburban Station, about six blocks north and east of the Square.

The PATCO Speedline, a rapid transit system connecting Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey stops at 16th St. & Locust St., 2 blocks east of the Square.

The SEPTA 9, 12, 21, and 42 buses westbound run along Walnut Street. The 17 runs northbound along 20th Street and southbound along 19th Street and Rittenhouse Square West and the 2 runs northbound along 16th Street and southbound along 17th Street.

The SEPTA Subway-Surface Trolley Lines have a station at 19th and Market streets, two blocks north of the Square. The Walnut-Locust station on the Broad Street Subway is four blocks east.


The Homestead Exemption Deadline is Approaching!

Posted on: February 15, 2013

Just a reminder from a previous post we made regarding the deadline approaching for the Homestead Exemption.

1. The Homestead exemption will take effect for tax year 2014 and provides tax relief to homeowners.

2. Homeowners are eligible for a $30,000 exemption. For example, a homeowner with an assessment of $100,000 would pay takes on $70,000.

3. Applications were mailed to all residential properties. Apply by July 31, 2013.

4. If you did not receive information in the mail, you can download the form and find information here

Neighborhood Profile: CHESTNUT HILL

Posted on: February 11, 2013

History: Chestnut Hill became part of Philadelphia in 1854 when the state legislature annexed some 129 square miles to the old city of Philadelphia, which occupied the land between the Schuykill and the Delaware Rivers. The village of Chestnut Hill lay ten miles north of city hall and served as a way station for travelers and a gathering place for the surrounding farms and the mills operating on the Wissahickon Creek.

According to David R. Contosta’s definitive history, Suburb in the City: Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 1850- 1990, prosperous Philadelphians first headed to Chestnut Hill to escape the summer heat of the low-lying old city. When the railroad provided a link in 1854, suburban development took off. The village provided services to the new suburbanites and the new commuters lived in the comfortable, breezy enclave of Chestnut Hill while they depended on the city for their livelihood and culture.

To this day, Chestnut Hill remains a highly livable suburb in the city. Bordered by Fairmount Park, the largest city park in the country, and served by two railroad lines, Chestnut Hill offers a vibrant commercial district, low-density housing, and a strong community commitment to a lifestyle worth preserving. (From The Chestnut Hill Community Association)

Boundaries: Northwestern Ave, Stanton Ave, Wissahickon Gorge, Cresheim Valley

Zip Code:  19118

What To See / Do: Morris Arboretum , Valley Green (Wissahickon Park)Woodmere Art Museum

Dining, Shopping and Events: Chestnut Hill Philadelphia

Schools: John S. Jenks SchoolCrefeld SchoolChestnut Hill AcademyNorwood-Fontbonne AcademyOur Mother of Consolation Parish School

Public Transportation: Two SEPTA Regional Rail lines serve Chestnut Hill: The Chestnut Hill East and West Lines.

Chestnut Hill is also served by SEPTA Bus Routes from both the City Transit Division (23, 77, L) and The Suburban Division (94 and 97).


Real Estate Agents Expect Big Boost in Spring Sales

Posted on: February 8, 2013

From Michelle Durham, CBS News:

“Ask any real estate agent and they’ll tell you the last couple of years have not been the easiest, but things are poised for change in the upcoming spring market.  It seems the pendulum is starting to swing back in favor of the seller, but an improved, clutter-free home is what buyers want.”  To read the entire article, click HERE

According to Elfant Wissahickon REALTORS partner, Louise “Butter” D’Alessandro (who has spent 34 years in the business and is a current board member of Trend and past president of GPAR),  “We feel a definite bounce, an upward swing. We are seeing many competitive offers and it definitely feels like recovery! Properly priced houses are being aggressively sought, but overpriced houses continue to sit.”

Elfant Wissahickon Realtors are dedicated to helping you find the house of your dreams, search for houses HERE

Slideshow: What You Can Get For Under $300,000 Across The Nation

Posted on: February 4, 2013

Each week, TODAY real estate expert Barbara Corcoran looks around the U.S. to see what homebuyers can get for their money.  This search goes from Dallas to Chicago in search of truly unique properties you can get the keys to for $300,000 or less. Click on the photo below for a slideshow of locations all around the nation!

If you’d like to take a look at what you can find here in the Philadelphia area for under $300,000, you can start your search HERE or take a tour of  THIS PROPERTY currently for sale in Mt. Airy!