Philly’s Old City is Immersed in American History & Local Culture

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Tucked into the tiny cobblestone streets of Old City lies Philadelphia’s most historic neighborhood. A part of the original city of Philadelphia, Old City is where some of the nation’s earliest and most important artifacts are stored. Tourist draws like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the nation, bring visitors from all over the country, while locals delight in the area’s charming rowhomes, shops and restaurants.

Where is Old City?

Old City is a small collection of blocks on the Eastern border of the city, wedged up against the Delaware River, Chinatown and Center City to the West, and Society Hill to the South. The Northern border is on I-676, which divides Old City from the now trendy neighborhood of Northern Liberties. The Delaware River waterfront has undergone a slow transformation over the years, now including small markets, pop-up seasonal festivals and stretches of green space with a bike path. On the western border of the neighborhood, Independence Hall, part of the U.S. National Park Service and Independence National Historical Park, houses much of the city’s and nation’s rich history.


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Old City is seething with history. Not just for the city of Philadelphia, but for the country overall. Independence National Historic Park is home to Independence Hall, a UNESCO world heritage site and part of the U.S. National Park Service and Independence National Historical Park. This is the birthplace of the U.S.A. Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were written and signed here, and it’s where the Liberty Bell, U.S. Mint and countless other historical sites are kept.


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What to do

History buffs have all the fun in Old City. Aside from the Liberty Bell and the rest of Independence Hall, there are also countless museums and sites to visit. American Philosophical Society Museum, National Museum of American Jewish History and Museum of the American Revolution (which has become increasingly popular since the launch of the Hamilton musical) are just a few of the cultural centers worth a visit in Old City.

Independence Seaport Museum should also be on your list as it features plenty of interesting exhibits such as the award-winning exhibit River Alive!, where guests can learn all about what lives in and around the Delaware River. It illustrates the importance of why we all need to keep our waterways clean, not just for us, but for generations to come.


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Being at the center of many of Philadelphia’s most popular tourist attractions, Old City offers quite a few options for hotels including branches of Kimpton, Marriott and Aloft hotels. However, Old City offers a great quality of life even if you’ve never cracked open a history book.

Where to eat & drink

The food scene is varied and fun to explore, ranging from old, dark pubs to sophisticated fine dining dinners at restaurants like Fork. Arguably one of Philly’s best-known restaurants, Zahav, has won numerous regional and national awards for its delicious Israeli food served up in a cozy interior.


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Locals and visitors in their early 20s often head to the bars in Old City on the weekends, spending their nights drinking and dancing into the early hours of the morning. Yet there are also quiet, completely residential streets in the neighborhood, offering a respite for young families and professionals as well.


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Moving to Old City

Real Estate Snapshot

Old City is on the higher end of renting in Philadelphia. At $2,243, it’s about 36% above the city’s average. Over the years, Old City has become increasingly desirable. With mostly small townhouses and rowhomes, apartments are harder to come by, and when they are available, they tend to go quickly. If you’re decided to make the move, better start browsing through apartments in Old City now and choose your next home.


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All to say that Old City costs a bit to live in, but for good reason. In spite of the numerous attractions that make tourists flock from all over the world to visit, the neighborhood retains a charming and local feel. Although it also has less of the necessities, like grocery stores, Old City is the perfect mix of quiet and vibrant streets.


Bordered by I-95 and I-676, Old City is easily accessible by car from the rest of Philadelphia, NJ, and beyond. Due to its location and bustling tourist attractions, there are frequent and well-maintained public transportation options here as well, including more than a dozen bus lines and two stops on the Market-Frankford public transit line. Old City is also a very walkable neighborhood, with a short stroll of around 20 minutes bringing you easily into Center City.


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Schools & Employment

Old City has plenty of options for schools, from Olde City Day School and Amigos Spanish Immersion Preschool for early education all the way up to high schools. Constitution High School is a local public school that takes advantage of its idyllic location, integrating trips to local museums and sites for an immersive experience into American history, for children between the 9th and 12th grades.

Perhaps not surprisingly, lots of the Old City jobs are involved in local tourism. From work at the sites and museums to jobs for the surrounding parks and green space, in addition to hotel, transportation and restaurant jobs, there are plenty of employment opportunities for hospitality and tourism careers in Old City.

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Florentina Sarac is a creative writer, editor, and researcher for RENTCafé. She covers a variety of topics, from real estate trends, demographic shifts, housing industry news and multifamily construction to homeownership, smart-home technology, personal finance and business. With a 9-year background in the real estate industry, Florentina has also penned articles for publications such as Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive and the National Apartment Association Magazine. You can connect with Florentina via email.

Florentina’s work and expertise have been featured in several major U.S. and international publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bisnow, The Mercury News, Curbed, The NY Post, CBS News, Business Insider and She holds a B.A. in English and Spanish, as well as an M.A. in Multilingual and Multicultural Communication, which serve as a testament to her love of literature and language.

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