Archive for the ‘Society Hill’ Category

Guide to Society Hill Schools

Thursday, July 25th, 2013
Society Hill Philadelphia Real Estate Properties

Society Hill streetscapes mix Colonial-era charm, 19th-century grandeur and contemporary dazzle. Society Hill schools offer a similarly broad mix of options.

Society Hill is the most desirable neighborhood in Philadelphia right now, so we’re sure that you don’t need much persuading if you’re thinking of living there. But if you’re planning to move there with children, we’re sure you’d appreciate information on Society Hill schools. There are several public, parochial, private and charter school options available in and around the neighborhood. You’ll find them listed below:

Society Hill Schools

Public Elementary: Gen. George A. McCall

Public High School: Julia Reynolds Masterman*, Constitution High School*, Academy at Palumbo*, High School for Creative and Performing Arts*

Parochial Elementary: St. Mary Interparochial School

Parochial High School: Roman Catholic High SchoolJohn W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School

Private: St. Peter’s School (K-8)

Public Charter: Mastery Charter High School (Lenfest Campus)Charter High School for Architecture + Design

*citywide magnet school

Society Hill’s Historic Philly Properties and Attractions

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Society Hill Philadelphia Sites Old City Liberty BellThe streets of Philadelphia’s are enriched with landmarks commemorating important moments of America’s early history. The city’s history has watched the beginning stages of America form to the modern life that we see today. An expedition to any of the streets will lead you to many historic properties. This is particularly true in Old City, which houses tourist attractions sites such as Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, and The Betsy Ross House. Center City also accommodates some of America’s most influential cultural beginnings like the Academy of Music, which still proudly resides and operates as the oldest opera house in the United States.

Yet, Old City isn’t the only popular destination for beautiful historical attractions in Center City. For some of America’s older significance, Society Hill is notorious for its celebrated buildings and still serves as part of a vital part of Philadelphia history.

Society Hill’s Historic Sites Still Stand

Society Hill’s historic neighborhood is named after the 18th century society of Free Traders. Many historical buildings still stand today, including St. Peter’s Church, which finished construction between 1758 and 1761, and the Society Hill Synagogue, which was built in 1829. In the 19th century, the city’s westward move caused the area to lose its appeal. As the times progressed, the houses started to break down until the 1950s when the local and Society Hill Philadelphia Real Estate Propertiesnational governments stepped in to begin its first redevelopment program to restore Society Hill’s historic buildings. While some of the buildings were replaced by modern buildings and high rises, most of the of the antique houses were sold instead to individuals. The 18th and 19th century homes are not collecting dust in museums, but are instead converted into local residences by native Philadelphians. This aspect gives the local neighborhood some of its historic charms.

Today, Society Hill has the highest concentration of early 18th and 19th century architecture than anywhere else in the United States. The bed rocked sidewalks, block-layered buildings, and bordered brick row houses give way to a nearby metropolitan area; showing the slow transformation from the previous centuries to the emerging modern metropolis we see today.

Delancy Street Shows Its Age

The cobblestoned sidewalks lead to one of the most regal streets in Society Hill’s Center City, and a personal favorite among tourists, Delancey Street. This street borrows many of its architectural building details from yesteryear. Its distinguished bricked sidewalks, blackened doors, and antique fire marks are all residential characteristics that personify the 18th and 19th century.

Besides the picturesque scenery, Delancey Street also exhibits some cultural attractions, including the Rosenback Museum & Library. One of the treasured literary treasures of the world, it showcases a titanic collection of nearly 400,000 rare books, art pieces, and manuscripts. The museum regularly hosts travelers from all over the world with its research services, programs, events, exhibitions, and guided tours.

A walk down Society Hill’s Delancey Street is filled with historical sites and attractions. This street reminds us of Philadelphia’s place in America’s history.

Historic Philadelphia Tours Lined Up for Spring

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
Independence Hall after dark

Ever want to see Independence Hall without the crowds? You can do it after dark. Photo from Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation.

Historic Philadelphia, Inc. has officially announced its spring lineup for walking tours, which run through the fall and winter of 2013.  The evening tours, Tippler’s Tour and Independence After Hours, are filled with real people with real stories from Philly’s Colonial days that connect history to modern-day experiences.

What makes these tours particularly unique are their hosts – usually an actor personifying the character of a real 18th-century person. Not to worry – these aren’t some geeks off the street; each performer goes through extensive training to learn thorough details of the time period and their individual persona.  Combined with authentic Colonial locations, HPI’s tours immerse the viewer with a unique, all-access pass to real history come to life.

Tippler’s Tour showcases the city’s Colonial and modern-day watering holes while the Independence After Hours Tour highlights some of the landmarks of Philadelphia’s Historic District and gives tourists and locals wanting to get in touch with their historic side the ability to tour Independence Hall with no crowds.

For more information on Historic Philadelphia and its tours, visit the Historic Philadelphia website.

-Greg Meckstroth 

Christmas Village above, discount parking below

Monday, November 19th, 2012

We bet you will LOVE this year’s Christmas Village at JFK Plaza. We also bet you will love cheaper parking every bit as much.

The reconstruction of Dilworth Plaza has forced Philadelphia’s Christmas Village to nearby JFK Plaza, more familiarly known as Love Park. And that means a great deal on parking for visitors.

The Christmas Village, modeled on the outdoor Christmas markets that originated in 16th-century Germany, has become a Philadelphia holiday tradition, bringing throngs of holiday shoppers and visitors to the heart of Center City to shop for unique gifts, holiday decorations and arts and crafts from around the world. The market also features several vendors offering authentic German delicacies; this year, Chaddsford Winery and German Grill is sponsoring a Weinacthshütte where market-goers can enjoy a taste of Germany in relaxed, enclosed comfort.

On top of all this, the Philadelphia Parking Authority is making it even easier to visit the Village by offering a special parking discount. Visitors who “like” the Parking Authority’s Facebook page can receive a coupon good for $2 off parking at the PPA’s AutoPark at JFK Plaza, located directly under the Christmas Village.

We will probably visit the village via SEPTA ourselves, as we find driving into town a bit of a hassle, but we know that some of you reading this will want to bring a car to haul home all the booty you pick up at the Christmas market. For you holiday fiends, you can’t beat this deal for convenience and savings.

-Sandy Smith

Confused about Philly neighborhoods? There’s a map for that

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
Philadelphia Neighborhoods on Google Maps

The Philadelphia Neighborhoods project on Google Maps

In Philadelphia, neighborhoods matter. (Not that they don’t elsewhere.) They confer – or deny – status to residents and property, which is why (1) arguments over which blocks are in which neighborhoods can get heated (2) residents of neighborhoods as varied as Point Breeze and Southwark coined new names for their communities in the hopes of erasing perceived stigmas.

To help people sort things out, the Philadelphia Neighborhoods collaborative project launched on Google Maps seeks to delineate the boundaries of every Philadelphia neighborhood. Like a wiki, anyone can add to or edit it, which should ultimately make it a pretty accurate guide to what blocks belong where.

The project currently has two maps active. Users might want to use the second to mark subsidiary communities within larger neighborhoods, such as Spruce Hill in University City, the Devil’s Pocket in Southwest Center City or the Gayborhood (or Midtown Village) in Washington Square West. Just be prepared for others to challenge you once you define their boundaries.

Philadelphia real estate market: First quarter trends

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Philadelphia Real EstateEven though the real estate market has been tumultuous for many recently, Philadelphia somehow seems to be doing much better compared to most other parts of the country. The local market has some activity, as in housing is being purchased and seeing increases. Additionally, construction of new single-family homes continues to go up, especially in the suburbs.

One point of prosperity in the Philly real estate market lies in the increase in existing home sales into December. December 2011 took in about five more percent of existing sales than December 2010 did. Sales from the end of last year thus far have been positive. This is something the housing market needs momentously. Thus far in 2012, there hasn’t been a significant increase in homes purchased but there is certainly a growing interest in property expected to take place. 

On the seller’s side, there is hope that rising apartment rental rates could drive some potential buyers back into the fold in 2012. The average rental rate for all Philadelphia apartments has gone up nearly eight percent in the last year alone. This equals an increase of nearly $80 in the past year alone. The thought is that those individuals or couples on the fence about renting and buying could take a more serious look at buying, especially with today’s mortgage rates.

Reports have shown that mortgage rates have been hitting record lows throughout the country, as well as here in Philadelphia, which is certainly inviting for potential buyers. Right now, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is coming with 4.007 APR. With mortgage rates being this low and rentals continuing to increase in price, there is hope that some buyers will begin to see the benefits of buying in early 2012.

Right now, Philadelphia’s top selling areas have remained the northwestern and western areas of Center City. However, other parts of Philadelphia have retained their value attracting buyers and keeping the market going.

Right now, the big issue the city faces is sale prices, specifically for sellers. It is important to note that even though sales prices have dropped in this area, they have not plummeted as much as other cities across the country.


Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square, in western Center City, continues to show strength

In the coming months, there is reason to be optimistic that these prices can get a small pickup. Median prices were down about six percent in December from the previous year, but this could have been expected. The months of November and December are generally regarded as slow months for real estate anyway, but the numbers shouldn’t have too heavy an impact on the rest of the first quarter of 2012.

A glance at the early trends in 2012 Philadelphia real estate is truly a mixed bag right now. Coming off the month of December is usually not pretty for any market; however, the Philly market has looked rather stable in the early part of the year. Regardless, it should remain to be seen if factors such as mortgage rates, rising rental rates and an increase in existing home sales can positively influence the market for both buyers and sellers throughout the first half of 2012. 

–By Emma Crawford, special to

Highlights from the Philly Living Market Action Report, 4th Quarter 2011

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

On the whole, it’s still a good time to buy if you are in the market for real estate in Philadelphia. But some market conditions are beginning to trend more favorably for sellers as well.

That’s our reading of the data in the latest Philly Living Market Action Report.  Our quarterly guide to real estate market trends in Center City and surrounding Philadelphia neighborhoods offers grounds for cautious optimism in the months to come. While sales volume is down for the quarter relative to the previous year, it is up significantly from the previous month and quarter, running counter to the usual end-of-year downturn. The average selling price for homes in Center City and environs rose significantly from last quarter and one year ago, while the median selling price fell slightly in both cases. This suggests that buyers on the whole are still looking for value, even though a few opted for properties at the upper end of the scale.

In terms of prices, the highest prices continue to be commanded in the city’s two most desirable neighborhoods: Rittenhouse Square (19103) and Chestnut Hill (19118). Worth noting, however, is a continued, sustained upward trend in median selling prices in Southwest Center City and Point Breeze (19146), reflecting especially increased activity in the latter neighborhood.

Inventory continues to decline, offering the prospect of better prices for sellers in the months to come, but days on market rose slightly, suggesting buyers are still waiting sellers out. Sale price-to-list price ratio also dropped slightly from last year and last quarter but held steady from the previous month.

For full details on activity in Philadelphia’s neighborhood housing markets, request a copy of the latest Market Action Report at

Philadelphia street scene by Adam Jones, Ph.D., used under a Creative Commons license

Just in time for Restaurant Week, Marc Vetri delivers a raspberry

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

In case you have been living under a rock, the Center City District’s semi-annual Restaurant Week is just around the corner. Actually, “Restaurant Week” is now a misnomer – this popular event, now in its 10th year, runs for two weeks – from Jan. 22-27 and Jan. 29-Feb. 3 for the winter edition. (Another two-week Restaurant Week takes place in the fall.)

Le Bec-Fin

Maybe we could dine at Osteria for $65 a head, but we doubt we could get out of Le Bec-Fin for that little.

Philadelphia-area food lovers devour this event, and with good reason: more than 100 of Center City’s best restaruants offer special three-course prix fixe menus for just $35 for dinner – and many of them also offer special $20 lunch menus. (Tax, gratuity and alcoholic beverages are not included in the package deal.) For adventurous diners, Restaurant Week offers a chance to sample unusual fare and high-end dining experiences ($35 for dinner at Le Bec-Fin? Sign us up!) they might not otherwise consider.

The event draws large crowds to the participating restaurants. Many restaurateurs love Restaurant Week for the exposure it gives their restaurants to new patrons. So does the Center City District. Echoing economic development officials in other cities that run such events, the CCD’s Kristen Linker told Forbes last fall, “Since its inception in 2003, Center City District Restaurant Week has generated over $23.9 million in additional revenues for the restaurants and pumped over $90.7 million into Center City Philadelphia’s economy.”

Not among the fans, however, is Marc Vetri, quite possibly the most celebrated chef in Philadelphia today. In a status update on his Facebook page, Vetri said that the discount dining deal really isn’t that much of one, especially after figuring in the wine, tax and tip. You could dine at his Osteria restaurant in Fairmount, he said, for about what the Restaurant Week special would run per person after throwing in all the rest. (The full text of his complaint can be found on Foobooz.) Add the crowds and the harried waitstaff to that, he said, and you might be better off dining at the restaurant of your choice on a normal night.

To some, these are fighting words. To others, Vetri has revealed the emperor has no clothes. What do you think? Share your comments here.

–By Sandy Smith

Photo of Le Bec-Fin by TexasDex from Wikimedia Commons, used under a Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0 license

It’s Official: Philly Housing Market Is Improving

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Residential street in Center City PhiladelphiaThere are now 76 markets where the real estate picture is expected to look better in the months to come, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index, released Jan. 9. The Philadelphia real estate market is one of those 76.

The addition of 40 metro areas to the monthly list of improving markets suggests that the fitful housing market recovery is spreading beyond the smaller markets that were not as heavily affected by the bursting of the housing bubble in 2008. Last month, there were 41 cities on the list. (Five of those – Anchorage, Alaska; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Canton, Ohio; Scranton, Pa., and Charleston, W. Va. – dropped off the list.)

“While relatively small metropolitan areas continue to dominate the list of improving housing markets, it’s important to note that several major metros in diverse parts of the country have now joined the field as well – including such metros as Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Nashville and Philadelphia,”NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said in a news release. “This is an encouraging sign that gradually strengthening economic conditions are starting to take hold across a broader swath of America.”

The NAHB and title insurer First American base the index on trends in three categories: employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac, and growth in single-family housing construction permits from the U.S. Census Bureau. A metro area that has had six consecutive months of growth from a prior trough in all three areas gets added to the index.

What does this mean for you, the Philadelphia home owner or buyer? If you are in the latter camp, we suggest you accelerate your house-hunting timetable if you can. While home price growth is forecast to be modest for the year ahead, prices are expected to rise, and that means that you are more likely to get the home you want at a great price now than later. If you are a home owner, talk with your Realtor about the ideal time to put your home on the market if you are still weighing your options. Our team of real estate experts can assist you in determining when and how to best take advantage of a rising market.

Our 10 (+1) Favorite Restaurants in Philadelphia in 2011

Friday, December 30th, 2011

One of the many great things about living in Philadelphia is the embarrassment of riches that is the city’s dining scene. Longtime residents can recite the history that led to this delightful state, beginning with the 1970s “Restaurant Renaissance” and building from there to the present. Philadelphians today enjoy a dazzling variety of eateries, from greasy spoons to elegant establishments, that offer cuisine from around the world and close to home in settings from relaxed to super-formal and at prices that suit every budget.

That scene is constantly changing, too, as new chefs try out new ideas and established names branch out in new directions. One notable local trend this year was the opening of a raft of restaurants that feature local ingredients, like The Farm and the Fisherman and The Farmer’s Cabinet in Washington Square West and Kennett off South Street. Dining impresario Stephen Starr gave Center City its first authentic English pub with The Dandelion, which opened this past summer, and another new Starr-backed establishment, Talula’s Garden, proved an immediate sensation with critics and diners when it opened on Washington Square later in the year.

Your blogger wasn’t quite able to sample all the delicious developments in Philly’s dining scene this year. But with some help from friends, we’ve been able to put together a list of 10 places – some old, some new – that consistently deliver excellent food with good service in a great atmosphere. Here, then, are Philly Living’s 10 favorite Philadelphia restaurants of 2011, in no particular order:

Han Dynasty, 108 Chestnut Street, Old City. The in-town outpost of the highly regarded Sichuan restaurant in Exton never disappoints. From mild to wild, the dishes are consistently well executed. Go with a group and be sure to share – it will be an education for your palate.

Opa Restaurant interior

The stylish interior of Opa, the new casual Greek restaurant that’s on our 10 Favorites list

Opa, 1311 Sansom Street, Midtown Village/Washington Square West. This moderately priced newcomer offers contemporary interpretations of classic Greek fare in a casually stylish setting. Not out for a full meal? Try one of their excellent appetizers at the bar, which has a creative cocktail menu and several great local brews on tap.

City Tap House, 3925 Walnut Street, University City. Sure, you will be sharing the space with Penn students on a bender, but there’s plenty of room for everyone in its large, modern-rustic dining room. There’s also an outdoor terrace in good weather. Craft beers and fresh seasonal ingredients go together like hand in glove at this eatery, which capitalizes on Philadelphia’s reputation as one of the best beer cities in America.

Friday Saturday Sunday, 261 South 21st Street, Rittenhouse Square. This sole survivor of the Restaurant Renaissance still “loves you every night.” It’s also still the best place in town for a romantic dinner date, with its intimate size and still-funky decor. Its kitchen is still producing simple yet elegant dishes with flair, 37 years on, and it still has the lowest markup on wine in the city – every bottle only $10 over cost.

PYT, 1050 North Hancock Street, Northern Liberties. What’s a burger joint doing on this list? Constantly experimenting, that’s what. Legendary party promoter Tommy Up’s uber-casual burger joint/lounge/club in the Piazza at Schmidt’s continually turns out new, creative, and sometimes flat-out weird variations on the classic burger, with a different featured burger each week. Past creations include the Krispy Kreme Burger, the Chicken & Waffle Burger, and the Korean Short Rib Burger, which proved such a hit it was added to the permanent menu. Needless to say, this is not a place for the health- or weight-conscious.

Le Virtu, 1927 East Passsyunk Avenue, South Philadelphia. All Abruzze, all the time, made the old-fashioned way with all the local ingredients the owners can get their hands on. House-cured meats and fresh pasta are among the stars at this anchor of the East Passyunk Avenue restaurant row.

Raw Sushi & Sake Lounge, 1227 Sansom Street, Midtown Village/Washington Square West; 1050 North Hancock Street, Northern Liberties; Cafe Boyd’s, inside the men’s wear store at 1818 Chestnut Street, Rittenhouse Square. This stylish contemporary Japanese restaurant, which recently opened a second outpost at the Piazza, loves to play with its signature dish. If you like it raw, you will love what the sushi masters here do with rice, fish and vegetables. The cooked entrees aren’t bad either.

Osteria, 640 North Broad Street, Fairmount. Marc Vetri’s more casual Italian dining spot is every bit as outstanding as his justly famous small restaurant on Spruce Street, but easier to get into and somewhat easier on the wallet. It’s a must-visit for pizza lovers as well, as the pies on the menu are the best in the city. Of special note is the Lombarda,with Cotechino sausage, two cheeses and a fried egg atop a delicate crispy crust.

Los Taquitos de Puebla, 1149 South Ninth Street, Italian Market/Bella Vista. The influx of immigrants from the southern Mexican state of Puebla is perhaps the best thing that’s happened to the Italian Market in years, and this unassuming taqueria is a happy product of that phenomenon. Cheap and delicious, their tacos de pastor are the best in town. More adventurous eaters will find on the menu dishes made from parts of the cow you probably never thought edible: anyone for ojos or cabeza de res?

Picanha Grill, 6501 Castor Avenue, Castor Gardens. Like Fogo de Chao, this Brazilian churrascuria in the Northeast is run by actual Brazilians. And like Fogo, it features a salad bar and a dine-till-you-drop parade of succulent meats. But unlike Fogo, you can enjoy all this without taking out a loan for your meal: the all-you-can-eat experience here costs a mere $25.

Bonus: Oyster House, 1516 Sansom Street, Rittenhouse Square. Sam Mink, the third generation of the Philadelphia family behind the legendary Kelly’s of Mole Street, took his family’s old-school seafood restaurant and lightened it up. The bright, open dining room still sports the knickknacks that have graced its walls since 1976, but just about everything else is new and improved, including the best lobster roll outside New England. Don’t miss the buck-a-shuck oyster special at the bar at happy hour.

–Sandy Smith

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