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 century. By 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
Dining, Shopping and Events: Rittenhouse Row
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.
Posted on: June 13, 2008
The city planning commission developed this incredible resource and fascinating history of the Philadelphia Rowhouse, available here. It’s a great guide for the row-home-owner and an interesting read for anyone with an appreciation of architectural or Philadelphia history.
Posted by Paul Walsh
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