REGULARLY SCHEDULED TOURS:
The regular tour season runs May through October. Private tours are always available for booking. Call our office today!
TOUR DESCRIPTIONS:AROUND WASHINGTON SQUARE
Walk around one of William Penn’s original planned public parks. Learn how this square served as a burial ground for over 1,200 Revolutionary War soldiers, then as a potter’s field before receiving its present name in 1825. See The Athenaeum, the first Italian Renaissance building in the US, and learn how the Square became home to the publishing industry in the early 20th century. Today, many of the former office buildings are being transformed into residences as Washington Square serves as an important gateway to the nearby residential Society Hill neighborhood. Meet at the tomb of the Unknown Solider in the Center of Washington Square.ART DECO
This popular early 20th century style, synonymous with the Jazz Age, has been described as having one foot in the past and one foot in the future. Its sleek appearance foretells the debut of Modernism while its use of Mayan and Aztec motifs echoes the past. Among Philadelphia’s outstanding examples featured on this walk is the flamboyant WCAU Building on the 1600 block of Chestnut Street, now home to the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Meet at the entrance of Liberty Place on 17th and Chestnut Streets.BANKERS’ ROW: ARCHITECTURE AND FINANCE IN PHILADELPHIA
In the early years of the new Republic, Philadelphia was the nation’s financial capital, home to the first stock exchange (1790), the Bank of the United States, the US Mint, the first securities exchange, the first commodities exchange, and other early banking and insurance institutions. The epicenter of this activity was Chestnut Street in Old City, where important early institutions were housed in architectural treasures, ranging from Greek Revival “temples” to later brick and limestone buildings such as The Bourse Building and the US Customs House. Explore the history of this important part of Philadelphia by visiting notable architectural landmarks, visible evidence of Philadelphia’s early financial prominence. Meet at Welcome Park on S. 2nd Street.BENJAMIN FRANKLIN PARKWAY
This grand boulevard, named after Philadelphia’s most famous citizen, is Philadelphia’s early 20th century contribution to the City Beautiful Movement and connects the downtown to Fairmount Park, fulfilling William Penn’s vision of a “greene countrie towne.” View the grand neoclassical structures that house this city’s cultural, educational and commercial institutions and view the new home of the renowned Barnes Foundation on Philadelphia’s version of the Champs Elysees. Meet at the Fairmount Park Welcome Center on 16th and JFK Streets.CITY HALL TO CITY HALL
Where else but Philadelphia can you view three centuries of American architecture along a single street on just one tour? The tour begins at Independence National Historical Park in front of the Old City Hall, which housed the Supreme Court when Philadelphia was the capital of the nation. The tour concludes at City Hall on William Penn’s original Center Square, once the tallest building in the world. In between, the astounding variety of Philadelphia’s 19th century and early 20th century commercial architecture is revealed. Meet at the northwest corner of 5th and Chestnut Streets.CLASSICAL PHILADELPHIA
Discover the Philadelphia known as “The Athens of America” in the early 19th century. Hear about some of this country’s greatest neo-classical architects and learn why they turned to ancient Greece for inspiration in designing buildings for the new American democracy. Significant highlights include the Second Bank of the US and the Merchant’s Exchange, both designed by architect William Strickland. Meet at the Pennsylvania Hospital Gate on Pine Street between 8th and 9th Streets. GILDED AGE PHILADELPHIA
Experience Philadelphia in the Gilded Age when wealthy industrialists turned to architecture to express money and power. See the opulent Bellevue Stratford Hotel, now a mixed-use office building and luxury hotel; the Ritz Carlton Hotel, originally the Girard Trust Bank; and the acclaimed PSFS Building, now the Loews Hotel. Learn how all three have been architecturally maintained and transformed into new uses. Meet at the steps of the Hyatt of the Bellevue at 200 S. Broad Street.JEWISH IMMIGRANT PHILADELPHIA
Relive the Philadelphia experience of Eastern European Jews who settled along South Street in the late 19th century. Explore their humble synagogues and homes and learn about their thriving marketplaces that became prominent businesses. Meet in front of the Society Hill Synagogue at 418 Spruce Street.LITTLEST STREETS EAST OF BROAD
Stroll a charming labyrinth of streets west of Washington Square, a village-like setting right in the heart of Center City, developed in the mid 19th century. Experience an intimate “hierarchy of streets” where the larger style-conscious houses are on the main streets, the smaller scale houses built for the aspiring middle class are on the middle-sized streets, and what was worker housing is on the smallest alleys. See Philadelphia as a “livable” city at its best. Meet at the center of Kahn Park on 11th and Pine Streets.LITTLEST STREETS FITLER SQUARE
Experience yet another intimate neighborhood within Center City, just southwest of Rittenhouse Square west of Broad Street. Learn about the early Irish settlers and other immigrants who first settled here and about their industrial ties to the nearby Schuylkill River. Meet at the center of Fitler Square on 23rd and Pine Streets.OLD CITY
Explore colonial Philadelphia and walk some of its original streets. See famous Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously occupied street in the US, and experience the walking/mercantile city, as well as a later generation of Victorian structures. Learn how this area remained the center of Philadelphia’s commercial, retail and governmental activities until the city finally moved “westward” to Center Square in the mid/late 19th century. Meet at the benches near Elfreth’s Alley and N. 2nd Street.POST INDUSTRIAL CALLOWHILL
Callowhill Street from Broad to the Delaware River explores a three-block-wide swath of the city along Callowhill and Willow Streets. Numerous interesting warehouses, bridges, and other structures will be seen along the way. This will be a 2-hour trek over some gritty streets, complete with some uneven Belgian blocks, abandoned railroad tracks, and even a set of 300 year old steps. For the Broad to the Delaware River tour, meet in front of the former Inquirer Building on 400 N. Broad Street.
Callowhill West District tour focuses on a four-block-wide swath of the city between Vine and Spring Garden Streets. Going back to the early 1700s, learn how this neighborhood—a country estate in the early 18th century – played an important part in the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793 and later became the center of American locomotive production. This area was once called home by major national figures including William Penn, Andrew Hamilton, President John Adams and Stephen Girard, to name a few. For the West District tour, meet outside of the Starbucks at 20th and Callowhill Streets.RITTENHOUSE SQUARE EAST
Philadelphia’s most fashionable address was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Enjoy today’s ambiance and compare the grand homes designed for the robber barons to the understated, elegant residences on Delancey Street. Meet at the fountain in the center of Rittenhouse Square.RITTENHOUSE SQUARE WEST
Contrast the many generations of high-rise apartment building architecture on the Square – representing every decade of the 20th century – with the smaller scale of the grand houses on nearby streets while walking past some of Philadelphia’s most fashionable brownstones. Meet at the fountain in the center of Rittenhouse Square.RITTENHOUSE SQUARE SACRED SITES
Visit outstanding examples of religious architecture in the Romanesque Revival and Gothic Revival styles in the Rittenhouse Square area and trace the city’s development west of Broad Street from the mid 19th century through the Gilded Age era. Meet in front of the First Baptist Church at 17th and Sansom Streets.SACRED SITES TOUR
Society Hill Sacred Sites, due to its Quaker origins, Philadelphia has long been hospitable to worshipers of many faiths. See history come to life when visiting reclusive St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, classical Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church, Romanesque Revival Mother Bethel Church, Georgian St. Peter’s Church, and Gothic Revival St. Mary’s Church. Meet at the gate of St. Peter’s Church, 3rd and Pine Sts.
Old City Sacred Sites, through architecture learn how religion affected 18th century society on this tour of the city’s oldest religious structures: from the simple design of the Arch Street Friends Meeting House built in 1804 to the exquisite Georgian-style Christ Church built 1727-1741. Meet at the entrance of Christ Church, N 2nd and Church Sts.SOCIETY HILL STROLL
Society Hill received its name from the “Free Society of Traders” who were granted a strip of land in this area by William Penn in 1683. Take a leisurely walk through this country’s largest, intact collection of original colonial and post-colonial residential architecture. Learn about this neighborhood’s mid 20th century renewal efforts and its contribution to establishing Philadelphia as a “livable” city. Meet at the Northeast corner of 2nd & Spruce Streets.UNDERGROUND PHILADELPHIA: SUBWAYS, RAILWAYS & STATIONS
Discover the Philadelphia Plan which gave us two Art Deco masterpieces, the monumental 30th Street Station and Suburban Station, the first all-underground rail terminal. The tour starts at 30th Street Station and proceeds via trolley (token provided) to 19th St. From the Comcast tower lobby descend into an underground concourse network to The Gallery, before ending at Reading Terminal and the Marriott Hotel. Along the way, lament the loss of Broad St. Station and learn about the 1905-mid-50s trolley and subway lines, the Broad Street subway (1928), the Commuter Rail Tunnel (1984), and the former Reading Terminal, now part of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. (This tour requires climbing some stairs, though escalators and elevators are available at most points.) Meet at the Angel statue by the main concourse of the east entrance of 30th Street Station.UP AND OVER THE BEN FRANKLIN BRIDGE
You’ve crossed it by car or viewed it from afar; now experience this magnificent bridge from a whole new perspective! Walk from Philadelphia to Camden with our guide to learn about the history and construction of what was once the longest suspension bridge in the world. Look down on the mighty Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Get acquainted with the past, present and future of waterfront development on both sides of the river. At the end of the tour, walk through the Rutgers-Camden campus for a return trip to Center City on the PATCO Hi-Speedline (not included in price). Meet in front of St. George’s United Methodist Church on N. 4th and New Streets.PHILADELPHIA NEIGHBORHOOD & SUBURBAN TOURS:
Philadelphia has often been described as a city of neighborhoods. Dig deeper into the history of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and the surrounding suburbs and learn how their unique history and architecture contributed to the larger city as a whole. Each tour season will feature four different neighborhoods taking an in depth at the development and progression of those enclaves.
Take a leisurely stroll through this bucolic “Garden City” neighborhood, a suburban setting within the city limits. Learn how the Pennsylvania Railroad extension to this area, spearheaded by Henry Howard Houston in the 1880s, created this style-conscious development and later, with his son-in-law, George Woodward, continued it into the1920s. Explore this haven of late Victorian, Arts & Crafts, English Cotswalds and Modern residences and see how it emerged as a desirable and complete neighborhood. Meet on the south side of the south parking lot of Chestnut Hill Academy, across from the tennis courts on West Willow Grove Avenue.
HISTORIC HADDONFIELD (CAMDEN COUNTY)
Enjoy the charms of historic Main Street USA and the tree-lined streets of elegant homes. Learn how this New Jersey suburb grew from Native American trails into a Quaker community whose 18th century structures still grace the town. Meet at 343 Kings Highway, East in front of the Haddonfield Historical Society.
Situated to the northeast of Center City, Fishtown figured prominently in Philadelphia’s great industrial age of the late 19th/early 20th century when it was developed to house many of the workers who were employed by the major industries that built factories in this part of the city. Discover how Fishtown’s residences are going through restoration as it becomes a sought after location in which to live. Meet at the statue of William Penn in Penn Treaty Park (N. Delaware and Columbia Avenues).
Explore this worker’s neighborhood and be amazed by its history because it predates William Penn. Queen Village was developed in the 1630s, first as a Dutch settlement, later becoming home to a large influx of Swedish settlers. Visit one of the few remaining 17th century structures in Philadelphia today, Gloria Dei Church. Meet at the front door of Olde Swedes Church at 916 S Swanson Street.
AVAILABLE FOR PRIVATE TOURS:AROUND CITY HALL
Explore the exterior of the most magnificent example of French Second Empire architecture in the U.S., Philadelphia City Hall, the largest municipal building in the country and the tallest masonry bearing wall structure in the world. Its monumental design celebrates Philadelphia’s industrial reputation as “The Workshop of the World” and its location provides this city with a strong “sense of center.” Circling around City Hall, you will experience a wide array of late 19th century and early 20th century commercial buildings and learn about Philadelphia’s transformation into a modern, post-World War II commercial city for the 20th & 21st centuries. (Please note: this tour does not include the interior of City Hall.) Meet at the Fairmount Park Welcome Center on 16th and JFK Boulevard. AVENUE OF THE ARTS
Although William Penn envisioned a grand civic boulevard for Broad Street, he would be dazzled by today’s “Avenue of the Arts” with its rich assortment of building styles and functions. Marvel at the ornate Frank Furness-designed Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, celebrating Victorian eclecticism at its best. Gaze upward to the dramatic glass canopy of the Kimmel Center, designed by Rafael Vinoly, and in between see grand late Victorian and Beaux Arts commercial buildings. Meet in front of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts at 128 N. Broad Street. BEAUX ARTS PHILADELPHIA
Explore outstanding examples of late 19th century and early 20th century architecture influenced by the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. From monumental structures along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to equally grand but more intimate residences in Rittenhouse Square, see why Philadelphia is often described as the “Paris of the US.” Meet at the fountain in the center of Rittenhouse Square. BELLA VISTA
Bella Vista (“beautiful view”) is a vibrant, historic residential neighborhood and home to the famous Ninth Street Market, AKA the Italian Market, one of the nation’s oldest continuously operating open-air markets. The tour will highlight the lively neighborhood’s architecture, diverse ethnic mix, and social changes. Meet at 10th and South Streets. BEN FRANKLIN’S PHILADELPHIA
Celebrate the 300th anniversary of this most famous “adopted” Philadelphian’s birth by following in his footsteps through colonial Philadelphia, beginning at the site of his home and print shop, Franklin Court, creatively commemorated by Venturi and Rauch with John Milner Associates in 1976. Explore the other significant sites of the birthplace of our nation and learn how American architecture, too, was born here. Discover some of the earliest style-conscious public buildings: Georgian, Federal and Greek Revival. Then learn about the recent new projects that have transformed Independence Mall. Meet at the entrance to Franklin Court, located at 312-22 Market Street. CONSHOHOCKEN (MONTGOMERY COUNTY)
Conshohocken became a major industrial site, thanks to its location along the Schuylkill River. Some of the earliest well-known industries were Alan Wood Steel and Lee Tire. See how this town is currently undergoing revitalization as a corporate center with development of its riverfront while many of its great Victorian homes that line the adjacent streets are being restored. DOYLESTOWN (BUCKS COUNTY)
This tour begins in the county seat of Bucks County’s “Cultural District” at the James A. Michener Art Museum that is ingeniously housed in what was the Bucks County Jail, built in 1885. See the castle-like Mercer Museum and stroll quaint residential streets, lined with French Second Empire and Queen Anne Revivals before ending in the vibrant town center that attracts New York and Philadelphia tourists alike. EAST FALLS
Tour this early mill town, once known as Falls of Schuylkill. Its residences, from worker rowhouses to grand, early 20th century mansions, trace the history of this picturesque neighborhood just minutes away from Center City. As a commuter suburb within the city, East Falls is also known as the former home of Grace Kelly. FRANKFORD
Discover beautiful Victorian residences, churches, and public buildings in this historic neighborhood that developed along an old Native American trail. See the commercial revitalization efforts of today’s Frankford Avenue. Learn about Frankford’s early history that predates Philadelphia and how it figured prominently in this city’s colonial past. Experience its tremendous growth during the city’s industrial era, housing factory owners on one side of the Avenue and factory workers on the other side. GIRARD ESTATE
Trace the history of this South Philadelphia neighborhood from its origin as a colonial farm to the early 20th century planned development of “Ideal City Homes.” See outstanding examples of Bungalow, Colonial Revival and Spanish Revival residential styles. Meet at the statue of Stephen Girard in Girard Park at 21st and Shunk Streets. GOLDEN AGE OF RETAIL
Walk the very streets that millions walked during Philadelphia’s heyday as a mercantile mecca. The tour will cover the rise and fall of Philadelphia’s great department and specialty stores from Wanamaker’s humble beginnings in 1861 to the closing of Strawbridge and Clothier in 2006, and all of the glory days in between. Meet at the southeast corner of 6th and Market Streets. HISTORIC NORTH CENTRAL DELAWARE WATERFRONT
Walk along the city’s original Delaware waterfront from Market to Spring Garden Streets to hear about “the good, the bad and the ugly” along this storied route. This tour provides a wistful and sometimes amusing look at what remains of what used to be one of the most important areas of the city. Learn how Delaware Avenue was transformed from a craggy footpath to the broad Columbus Boulevard that is there today. Both historic and contemporary issues of land use, maritime activity, transportation, urban planning, manufacturing, urban archaeology, and historic preservation will be discussed. Meet at the benches by Christ Church at 2nd and Market Streets. JEWISH PHILADELPHIA IN COLONIAL TIMES
Explore the city’s Judaic heritage and learn about its importance in the growth and architectural development of Philadelphia. Hear about Nathan Levy’s connection to the Liberty Bell and the Jewish connection to Christ Church. Meet at the benches at Elfreth’s Alley and Arch Street. LEWIS & CLARK IN PHILADELPHIA
Follow in the footsteps of these important early American explorers where their historic trek began 200 years ago and learn about the buildings and institutions, past and present, that lined this early phase of their route. Meet on the northwest corner of 5th and Arch Streets. MANAYUNK
Often referred to as the “Manchester of America,” learn about this former mill town’s industrial development along the Schuylkill River canal that was opened in 1825, connecting Philadelphia to the interior coal regions of Pennsylvania. See examples of early immigrant housing then stroll along Main Street’s late 19th century commercial buildings and enjoy the fruits of its recent renaissance. Meet at the small park on the river-side of Main Street between Gay and Connaroe Streets. MEDIA (DELAWARE COUNTY)
Media was planned in the 1850s as the seat of Delaware County. Discover architecture dating from the Federal era, see lavish Victorian homes and enjoy the beautifully restored Beaux Arts/Art Deco Media Theater before experiencing the renaissance of its commercial district. Meet in front of the Delaware County Court House at Front St. and Courthouse Square. MERION (MONTGOMERY COUNTY)
Explore suburban Merion Station, one of several communities developed along the storied Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. View magnificent estates, grand houses and a spectacular botanical park. Meet at the Merion Train Station (Hazelhurst Avenue and Idris Road), inbound side. NORRISTOWN (MONTGOMERY COUNTY)
Norristown is the oldest of the four suburban county seats, tracing its history to 1784. Learn about this borough’s industrial and commercial development and how it reflects the impact of the country’s transportation movements: canals, railroads, trolleys and highways. See the historic Montgomery County Courthouse that has evolved architecturally from the 1850s to the present. Meet at the SEPTA Transportation Center R-100 platform (Lafayette and Swede Streets). NORTHERN LIBERTIES
William Penn stipulated that 10,000 acres north of the original city become “liberty lands.” Once home to many of the city’s breweries, this funky, culturally diverse neighborhood today is the home of many artists and writers. See the old and the new and make note of the many little neighborhood eateries along the way. Meet at Palm Tree Market, 717 N. Second Street. PHOENIXVILLE (CHESTER COUNTY)
Phoenixville, today a beautifully restored residential community, has the largest number of historically certified buildings in Chester County. In its earlier days, it was an important center of industry and transportation along the Schuylkill River. Discover its charm and learn about recent revitalization efforts. POWELTON
The small neighborhood of Powelton Village in West Philadelphia has great stories to tell. Settled by Welsh Quakers in 1682, the village was named for the 18th century estate of Samuel Powel, the mayor of Philadelphia during the Revolution. This tour features an eclectic variety of mid- to late 19th c. houses and mansions of this early “street car suburb.” Among the designers are some of Philadelphia’s foremost late 19th Century architects, including Wilson Eyre, Willis Hale and the Wilson Brothers. The neighborhood also includes innovative 21st century student housing by Erdy McHenry Architecture for Drexel University. Meet in front of Zocalo Restaurant, 36th Street and Lancaster Avenue. SKYSCRAPERS OLD & NEW
Penn Center, one of the country’s most acclaimed examples of 20th century, post World War II urban renewal, is a lasting legacy of Edmund Bacon and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Learn how this world-famous city planner based this commercial development complex on William Penn’s vision that Market Street would be a commercial thoroughfare and see two generations of commercial architecture: Modern & Post-Modern. Meet at the exterior north portal of City Hall, N. Broad St. & JFK Boulevard. SOUTH OF SOUTH
This rowhouse neighborhood includes variety of modest houses alongside several magnificent 19th c. churches. See the house, now a museum, where famed contralto Marian Anderson lived across the street from Union Baptist Church where she sang as a child. Learn how the splendid Greek Revival Naval Home, a National Historic Landmark by Philadelphia architect William Strickland, became part of a residential development. See surprising St. Alban’s Place, an important setting for the film The Sixth Sense. Meet in front of LaVa Café, 2100 South Street. SPRING GARDEN
Stroll through this early city suburb, developed in the late 19th century, that was home to merchants, workers and even prisoners. Enjoy a diversity of exuberant late Victorian homes and view the world-renowned Eastern State Penitentiary, built in the 1820s and studied by penal experts from Asia and Europe at that time. Meet in front of Jack’s Firehouse, 2130 Fairmount Avenue. SPRUCE HILL VICTORIANA
Walk tree-lined streets graced with homes that are crowned with Italianate towers and Queen Anne Revival gables. Hear how public transportation encouraged development of this West Philadelphia neighborhood as a streetcar suburb. Meet in front of University City Arts League, 4226 Spruce Street. TACONY
This city neighborhood was conceived and developed into a utopian manufacturing community by saw-maker Henry Disston. Hear how this company town contributed greatly to Philadelphia’s reputation as “The Workshop of the World,” an industrial center well into the 20th century, and learn more about Disston’s plan for this neighborhood that included a wide range of past and present housing types, churches, department stores, banks, a movie theater and music hall. TERRA COTTA ORNAMENT
Terra Cotta – “baked earth” – is one of the oldest ornamental building materials. Since the 19th century, many Philadelphia buildings have been adorned with terra cotta. See extraordinary examples such as the polychrome Art Deco Metropolitan Building and One East Penn Square. Look at up at the elaborately textured Crozer Building and hear about the technology used to make and preserve terra cotta. Meet at the exterior north portal of City Hall, N. Broad St. & JFK Boulevard. UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
Stroll the campus of one of the country’s most prestigious Ivy League schools. See old and new buildings designed by such notable American architects as Trumbauer, Cope & Stewardson, Furness, Kahn, and Venturi Scott Brown. Hear about campus planning and the neighborhood’s revitalization and enjoy the University’s award-winning landscape. Meet at driveway entrance to the Penn Museum, 3260 South Street. VICTORIAN GERMANTOWN
This city neighborhood, dating to colonial times, underwent industrial development with the arrival of the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad in 1832 and this development continued rapidly with the arrival of the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1880s. Learn more about this transportation impact and see some of Philadelphia’s finest examples of Victorian eclecticism. Meet on the northwest corner of Germantown Avenue and Tulpehocken Street. VICTORIAN PHILADELPHIA WEST OF BROAD
Take in the total experience of Philadelphia during the magnificent Gilded Age era. Begin at The Bellevue, opened in 1910 as Philadelphia’s premier hotel, the Bellevue Stratford. Learn about cultural, financial, commercial and civic institutions and private clubs, religious structures and the grand urban town houses and mansions in which wealthy Philadelphians lived during these opulent times. Meet at the steps of the Hyatt at the Bellevue, 200 S. Broad Street. VICTORIAN WASHINGTON SQUARE WEST
Many of Philadelphia’s most beautiful townhouses are located along Spruce and Locust Streets in this Center City neighborhood east of Broad Street. Marvel at the Gothic Revival windows, Queen Anne Revival turrets, balconies, bays, garlands and gables designed by many prominent Philadelphia architects. Meet at the northwest corner of 9th and Spruce Streets.