Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia: A Historic Neighborhood Layered With Elegance

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For many Philadelphians, Rittenhouse Square is the heart of Center City. It’s where the city comes to gather in nicer weather, picnicking on the immaculately kept lawns while dogs chase tennis balls and a fountain gurgles gently in the middle. Much of the city’s most high-end real estate lines the borders of this small square.

Shops and restaurants are crammed into the surrounding blocks, with a select few having the coveted position of being on the square itself. With charming rowhomes, well-maintained green spaces and one of the highest safety ratings, life in Rittenhouse Square doesn’t come cheap, but it’s one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Philadelphia for a reason.

 Where is Rittenhouse Square?

Rittenhouse Square is central to most of the city. It’s just South of Fairmount and Spring Gardens, two beautiful neighborhoods on their own, and across the Schuylkill from the beginning of University City and West Philly. Graduate Hospital and Fitler Square sit on the Eastern border of Rittenhouse Square while the Gayborhood and Old City are further East.


Named for the park that sits at the center of the neighborhood, Rittenhouse Square was the southwestern corner of the original Philadelphia. Before it expanded into the urban center it is today, Rittenhouse Square was originally the Southwest Square, one of five urban centers planned by William Penn when he initially designed Philadelphia. 


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What to do

Living in Rittenhouse Square means living with status. It has a reputation for being the wealthiest neighborhood in Philly, and for good reason. Updated penthouses housed in historic buildings lining the square routinely break records for being the most expensive real estate sold in the city, and some of the city’s most expensive and sought-after shops and restaurants are found here.


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Where to eat & drink

Parc is one of the few restaurants that landed the coveted location of being on the square. It’s a tourist draw, with visitors and residents alike clamoring for a table and often waiting hours before they’re settled into one. If you’re looking for one of the few outdoor seating options that overlook the square, you could be waiting even longer. However, unlike other tourist spots, Parc also happens to serve really delicious food. It features a traditional French menu and the higher price points to back it up.


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Metropolitan Bakery, just a few doors down from the square, is a Philadelphia staple. This outpost fills the area with scents of freshly baked bread and rotating pastries every morning. Next door is Metropolitan Pizza & Cafe, which houses a wood oven and pumps out mouth-watering pizzas, sandwiches, salads and classic café fare for lunch and dinner.


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For date nights or any night when you just want to slip into something nice and hit the town for a fabulous meal, Friday Saturday Sunday is known for its shifting, seasonal menu. It’s a transitioned rowhouse, with a dark, inviting bar on the first floor serving award winning cocktails and a handful of dining tables on the second floor. The layout gives it an intimate, cozy feel, perfect for diving head-first into whatever delicious specials are available that day.


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That doesn’t mean it’s all about the money, though. There are plenty of deals to be found in the charming rowhouses a few blocks off the square if you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of square footage, and neighborhood joints like the Black Sheep still serve beers for $5 each.

Moving to Rittenhouse Square

Real Estate Snapshot

Rittenhouse Square is known for being one of Philadelphia’s most expensive neighborhoods, and the numbers don’t lie. Rentals here cost about 35% higher than the city’s average. The premium is for location. Many of the buildings here are a bit older, though some have been beautifully updated.


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Situated smack in the middle of the city, you can get just about anywhere from Rittenhouse Square. Buses lead to Western, Southern, Eastern and Northern neighborhoods in Philly, as well as the airport. It’s a few blocks from the Broad Street train line, which connects the north and south areas of the city.

It’s also a quick trip across the river to 30th St Station if you need to go a bit further afield. Local train lines bring commuters and residents out to the nearby suburbs, while Amtrak connects Philly to cities all over the East Coast.

Schools & Employment

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Rittenhouse has a wide selection of private schools, but it also has some great public ones. Greenfield School is one of them, an elementary school that has been given a boost in recent years thanks to parents stepping in and filling in some holes. For those who do want to go the private route, Independence Charter School offers an option for grades K-8.

Many people who live in Rittenhouse work in the nearby area. With its wide selection of schools, restaurants and shops, there is plenty of work in the hospitality, education and retail area. Mostly, though, people make the quick walk into Center City to head over to Comcast or one of the other large-scale corporation that has offices there.

Want to get a taste of this charming neighborhood? Browse through hundreds of available listings and choose your next apartment in Rittenhouse Square.

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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 Realtor.com. 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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