A new report released earlier this year by ArtPlace, a collaboration of leading national foundations and federal agencies committed to accelerating “creative placemaking,” identifies Old City as one of America’s Top 12 ArtPlaces.
What’s an ArtPlace, you ask? It’s a community that is exceptionally successful in combining the arts, artists and venues for creativity and expression with independent businesses, restaurants and a walkable lifestyle.
Old City ranked highly thanks to organizations and venues like the award-winning Arden Theatre Company and the Philly Fringe Festival, the success of which benefits iconic neighborhood businesses like Continental and Old City Coffee.
How Old City Developed as a Thriving Art Community
Located within our country’s most historic square mile, Old City was once a busy commercial waterfront district. But, by the early 1970’s many of its industrial and warehouse uses gave way to artists’ lofts, and a thriving arts community began to take root. The subsequent restoration and conversion of many historic industrial structures into living spaces coincided with an influx of art galleries, design firms, architects and performance groups during the 1980’s and ‘90’s.
As the success of the arts community grew, so did Old City. The new Old City is an active cultural, dining and retail district, and one of the most appealing residential neighborhoods in downtown Philadelphia. It also offers a range of dining and accommodations, design showrooms and art galleries, inviting shops, salons and boutiques of every description with something for every taste and budget.
Serving as an easy walk from the Pennsylvania Convention Center & many downtown hotels, the neighborhood is also small enough to be seen during a brief walking tour, but interesting enough to spend several days shopping and exploring its many cultural and architectural gems.
Old City is served by both the School District of Philadelphia (public) and Archdiocese of Philadelphia (Roman Catholic parochial) school systems. The principal schools within Old City are:
- General George L. McKay Elementary School
- Independence Charter School
- Mastery Charter School
- St. Mary Interparochial School
Old City Arts Association
Old City Arts Association was formed in 1991 as the community quickly grew to include galleries of all kinds, as well as theater companies, artists’ cooperatives, workshops, schools, dance companies, design showrooms, and historic and cultural museums. Old City Arts Association is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to developing and maintaining Old City as a vital meeting place for arts, culture and commerce in Philadelphia.
Old City is located at the far eastern part of Center City, closest to the Delaware River. It is bordered on the north by Vine Street, on the South by Locust Street, on the east by Columbus Boulevard (Delaware Avenue) and on the west by 6th Street. On the northwest corner is Franklin Square. On the southwest corner is Washington Square.