Destination Pennsylvania: Elfreth’s Alley

Destination PA

OLD CITY PHILADELPHIA (WBRE/WYOU) — Philadelphia is known for its history.

There’s more than 300 years of it on display on just one street. Elfreth’s Alley is known as one of the country’s oldest continuously inhabited streets. In this week’s Destination Pennsylvania, Khiree Stewart takes us on a stroll down the alley.

There’s a street in Philadelphia that’s not quite like the others.

“Walking down the street itself has lots of sights,” Elfreth’s Alley Museum director Ted Moust said.

And those sights might make you wonder whether you stepped back in time. Elfreth’s Alley is considered by some to be one of the oldest residential streets in the country.

“The houses on this block were built between the 1720’s and the 1830’s,” Moust said.

The Elfreth’s Alley Museum is a replica of how a working-class home looked around 200 years ago. Everything from the kitchen to the bedroom to the clothing.

“We have objects related to the trades they practice and their daily lives those kinds of things,” Moust said.

Tens of thousands of people visit each year. The first houses were built in the 1700’s and the alley just kept growing from there. And what’s even more neat is that people still live there.

“You have people suddenly shocked like ‘Oh my gosh you live here’,” alley resident Eric Silverman said.

Silverman has lived on Elfreth’s Alley for more than three years. He says the past meets the present when it comes to the homes here.

“We have original floors, paneled walls, fireplaces, but brand-new model kitchen, flat screen TV’s. From that standpoint, they’re like any fully updated homes. You get the best of both worlds,” Silverman said.

Silverman says that residents have also found surprises in their homes as well.

“You have had a few situations when someone forgot to lock their front door and they came down and there’s a tourist in their living room taking pictures and it’s like ‘Excuse me, I do live here’,” Silverman said.

But he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love it. The tourists are generally fun. It really gives people that are vising the city a taste of the whole history,” Silverman said.

Moust hopes that more people take a stroll down Elfreth’s Alley. He says it is a true walk through history.

“We don’t have a lot of places to look to see where working people lived over a really long period of time and I think this is a really important place to preserve for that reason,” Moust said.

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