Rittenhouse Square Goes Back Over 400 Years
Rittenhouse Square can trace its history all the way back to 1683. This Philadelphia district was one of the five original parks planned by William Penn together with his surveyor Thomas Holme. 18th St. forms the eastern boundary, and Rittenhouse Square West is the eastern boundary. Walnut St. is the northern end, and Rittenhouse Square South is the southern extremis.
This section of real estate was originally called Southwest Square. In 1825, it was renamed after David Rittenhouse who was a descendant of Philadelphia’s first paper maker William Rittenhouse. The site of his paper mill was called Rittenhouse Town. David was a clock maker and a noted figure in the Revolutionary War. He was also an accomplished astronomer who has a moon crater named after him.
As the city grew in the 19th century, it became apparent that Rittenhouse Square was a desirable section of real estate suitable for the erection of luxury homes. Brick manufacturer, James Harper, was the first builder to put up a house on the square. His stately home was built in 1840 at 1811 Walnut St. His house set a tone for housing to consist of luxury homes worthy of such a prime piece of real estate. He bought up the adjoining property and subdivided it into generously sized lots.
An Exclusive Neighborhood Develops
The Rittenhouse Club was set up in the former home of Congressman Harper at the start of the 20th Century. This exclusive association helped ensure the surrounding real estate would remain the province of wealth and privilege
Today, tree filled Rittenhouse Park is surrounded by luxury homes, condo towers, and upscale apartments.
There are several high class hotels in the area. The square is a popular spot for lunch taken by nearby office workers. The lion and gnat statues are popular play areas for children. The park has served as a backdrop in several films. The volunteer organization, Friends of Rittenhouse Square,” helps maintain the verdant beauty of this park.
Cultural Amenities Abound in Rittenhouse Square
Rittenhouse Square also houses a number of cultural institutions. The Ethical Society, the Rosenbach Museum and Library, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and the Civil War and Underground Railroad Museum are all located here. Many public works of art are displayed in the square including R. Tait McKenzie’s bas relief bust of J William White.
Public schools include the Albert M Greenfield School for elementary students and South Philadelphia High School for older students. Pierce College and the University of the Arts are both located in Rittenhouse Square.
The value of real estate here is enhanced by the region’s public transit network. The Patco Speedline has a stop here at 18th St. and Locust St. The line whisks riders to Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. The SEPTA Subway Surface Trolley Line has a station at 19th St. and Market St.
Rittenhouse Square is a great place to live. For more information on Rittenhouse Square luxury homes and condos CLICK HERE to speak with Mike McCann.
Boundaries: North/South: Market St. to Lombard St.
East/West: 15th St. to 22nd St.
School information: Residents are zone to the Albert M. Greenfield School for grades K-8 and South Philadelphia High School.
Philadelphia School District Catchment Map: http://www.kidsincentercity.com/schools
Friends of Rittenhouse Square: http://www.friendsofrittenhouse.org/
Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show: http://www.rittenhousesquareart.org/
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