Philadelphia Walking Tour to Rittenhouse Square: Philly’s Famous park

More than any of William Penn’s five unique squares, Rittenhouse Square is synonymous with the area that created around it.

Famous for the encompassing design, excellent finishing and its renowned affiliations, the square remains the gem of one of Philadelphia’s most stylish neighborhoods.

On summer days, Rittenhouse Square is loaded with inhabitants unwinding on seats, customers walking walkways and smokers sitting on its limestone balustrade. By December, occasion lights embellish its numerous trees.

Consistently, the recreation center hosts ranchers markets, craftsmanship appears and a spring celebration. A bloom appear, held for over a century, stays one of its mark occasions while a mid year ball draws out the city’s first class.

The square is best known for its nineteenth century renaissance, when a portion of the wealthiest Americans fabricated houses along its fringes. In any case, its history additionally incorporates any semblance of bricklayers, coal heavers and Irish hirelings.

Rittenhouse Square – so lavish today – started with an average workers vibe.


Initially known as Southwest Square, Rittenhouse Square stands novel for what it progressed toward becoming, as well as for what its initial history needs.

Not at all like the other open squares, Rittenhouse Square never filled in as a graveyard. People in general never rushed there for executions, as Philadelphia’s initial occupants did at Logan Square. Nor did it witness horse races, similar to those held in Center Square, now City Hall.

Rather, the square remained piece of a forested territory known as Governer’s Woods until the times of the American Revolution.

Early pilgrims depicted the forested areas as a decent place to chase feathered creatures, foxes and deer. Benjamin Franklin was known to go through them on his outings to John Bartram’s home on the banks of the Schuylkill River, a course that likewise expected Franklin to utilize George Gray’s ship.

Representative’s Woods were cleared before the British control of Philadelphia amid the American Revolution. By then, Rittenhouse Square turned into a touching ground, much the same as the fields encompassing it. In 1816, the city’s chambers passed a determination to encase the square, recognizing it from the encompassing fields and keeping animals from meandering in.

With the core of Philadelphia having created along the Delaware River, a large number of the city’s noisier and dirtier enterprises were pushed out to the territories encompassing Rittenhouse Square. There, a blend of brickyards, lumberyards and producers of ceramics, glass and porcelain amassed.

“On account of its affiliations today with high-living, it’s peculiar to discover that for quite a bit of its initial history you will probably keep running into dairy cattle or a coal heaver than an individual from the recreation class,” said Vincent Fraley, correspondences executive for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. “The dirt in Rittenhouse Square wasn’t sufficiently fruitful for cultivating, however it turns out there were earth stores. Along these lines, the primary inhabitants were bricklayers and different workers that came and set up ovens.”

In the mid nineteenth century, they were joined by poor, untalented workers who moved coal along the Schuylkill River that was dispatched down the streamfrom Schuylkill County.

A strong group of houses that created along Manning Street – then known as Ann Street – was named “Goosetown Village” because of the geese that rushed to the water-filled dirt pits in the region.

By the mid-1830s, the roads encompassing Rittenhouse Square had been cleared with cobblestone and lit by gas road lights. A steed drawn omnibus kept running over the city on Market Street. Lodging esteems west of Broad Street multiplied, at that point tripled.

The region to a great extent remained a regular workers neighborhood. Yet, that was going to change.


Benjamin Franklin appropriately gets extensive acknowledgment as frontier America’s prevalent creator. Be that as it may, his achievements likewise cast a shadow over David Rittenhouse, a contemporary researcher with his own particular amazing accomplishments.

The self-instructed Rittenhouse started his vocation as a clockmaker yet changed himself into a refined space expert, mathematician and surveyor. In 1825, the city renamed Southwest Square after Rittenhouse with an end goal to recognize Philadelphia’s storied provincial history.

As a cosmologist, Rittenhouse watched the travel of Venus, an uncommon yet unsurprising occasion in which Venus passes specifically between the Sun and Earth, making an overshadowing like impact. He likewise developed a couple of orreries – mechanical gadgets that portray the circles of spatial bodies.

As a surveyor, Rittenhouse set up the limits between numerous mid-Atlantic states and reviewed channels and waterways utilizing galactic perceptions.

Amid the American Revolution, Rittenhouse served on the Committee of Safety, managing the enhancements of rifles, the throwing of guns and determination of explosive plant locales.

He later filled in as Pennsylvania’s treasurer, the chief of the U.S. Mint and a trustee at the University of Pennsylvania.


Today, Rittenhouse Square alludes as much to Philadelphia’s ritziest neighborhood as it does the square itself.

Be that as it may, until the point that the city’s first class started fabricating chateaus along the square in the 1850s, the area had a not as much as tenuous name: Goosetown. What’s more, the square had encountered negligible redesigns.

The square got its first genuine arranging exertion in the mid-1830s, when its dirt pits and lakes were loaded with soil. Saplings were planted and rock walkways introduced. A couple of roads were developed along its western and southern edges, better characterizing its fringes.

A moment round of upgrades came in 1853, similarly as the area saw genuine change. An iron fence, standing six-feet tall, was raised around the square. A trio of huge, fancy wellsprings was introduced, however they were not darling by all. They in the end were evacuated in light of the fact that they flooded and the subsequent mud dirtied pants and skirts.

A progression of seats and gas lights were introduced and the grass – which already developed high – was cut with consistency. The recreation center turned into a prevalent place for churchgoers to visit after administrations and for kids to play as their folks viewed from their houses.

In the wintertime, a portion of the young men would get fiendish, said Nancy M. Heinzen, who definite the square’s history in her 2009 book, “The Perfect Square.” On blanketed days, they would sneak into the recreation center and hurl snowballs at bystanders.

“The huge trap was to thump finish caps off with their snowballs,” Heinzen said. “It’s astounding how they experienced childhood in that air.”

The recreation center shut at sunset, when constables would close the swinging iron entryways at its four corner doors. Some young men would sneak into the recreation center around evening time, as indicated by Charles J. Cohen’s “Rittenhouse Square: Past and Present,” distributed in 1922.

“We young men used to assemble at the Square after dull and move over the fence, when the constabulary was not looking, and meander around inside, primarily, I take it now, since we were accomplishing something that we shouldn’t do,” Frederick Shelton told Cohen. “We used to spot trees with sparrows’ homes in the daytime, stamp them, and around evening time go and assemble them in.”

The city expelled the iron fence and supplanted the thin, rock ways with black-top walkways in the mid-1880s. These progressions came regardless of the resistance of numerous Rittenhouse inhabitants, who dreaded their kids would endure bloodied knees and experience runaway domesticated animals initially
bound for butcher.

In any case, their appeal to kept the development of the boulevards around the square. Also, critical changes would not come to Rittenhouse Square until 1913, when the occupants framed the Rittenhouse Square Improvement Association.

At that point, the square had fallen into dilapidation. Around 100 trees stood dead or kicking the bucket. Many bushes were said to include little excellence. What’s more, there was a waste pit in the southeast corner.

The affiliation tapped Paul Philippe Cret to update the recreation center. A French-conceived draftsman who educated at the University of Pennsylvania, Cret later went ahead to outline the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Rodin Museum and the Memorial Arch at Valley Forge.

Cret construct his Beaux-Arts configuration in light of the Parc Monceau, a Parisian stop. His arrangement called for inclining crosswalks prompting an oval porch at the recreation center’s middle, which was encased by a limestone balustrade. The walkways were fixed with trees and seats were set toward the wellspring, blossom overnight boardinghouses.

From that point forward, Rittenhouse Square’s plan has for the most part stayed unaltered. At different circumstances, inhabitants have battled against changes, including a 1950s proposition to develop a parking structure underneath the square. Rather, the carport was developed over the ground, on the site of a previous Walnut Street chateau.

Inhabitants likewise effectively turned away proposition to lay trolley tracks over the northwest corner, venture that would have affected around 33% of the square. Rather, Rittenhouse Square stays far less affected by activity than Franklin, Logan and Washington squares.


Private changes again hit Rittenhouse Square in the mid twentieth century. This time, the area grew upward as the city’s world class headed outward.

The main skyscraper loft complex rose up in 1913, supplanting the Scott family manor on South Rittenhouse Square. Worked by Samuel Wetherill, the skyscraper implied an evolving dynamic.

The city’s first class consistently started moving to suburbia, where a considerable lot of them had fabricated summer homes in the field. The Pennsylvania Railroad’s fundamental line gave get to, yet the recently received wage charge gave another motivator.

It progressed toward becoming cost-restrictive to keep up manors in both Rittenhouse and suburbia, Heinzen said. Be that as it may, numerous individuals selected to likewise keep up a condo in the city.

“This was only an elective method to live for rich individuals,” Heinzen said. “The Barclay Hotel was worked as an occupant inn. The possibility of loft living is extremely European.”

Numerous other condo edifices took after. The Wellington, Rittenhouse Plaza and 1900 Rittenhouse all went up in the 1920s. Top of the line inns, similar to the Warwick and Drake, likewise opened.

However, as these structures came to fruition, a large number of the houses that earlier lined the square were wrecked.

“They were dazzling chateaus,” Heinzen said. “Not very many exist.”

Harrison’s extensive chateau, on the east side of Rittenhouse Square, was torn down in 1920 to prepare for the Pennsylvania Athletic Club.

A few houses were saved by social organizations, similar to the renowned Curtis Institute of Music and the Philadelphia City Institute, which both still possess spots on the square. Social clubs moved into others.

The Great Depression stopped advancement on the square until the Rittenhouse Claridge was worked in the 1950s. The Lippincott house, worked in 1866, was torn down to fabricate 220 W. Rittenhouse Square, a 32-story skyscraper that started worries about expanded shadows over the square.

Another loft blast would follow in the 1960s. By at that point, a considerable lot of the more established skyscraper lofts had turned into an acknowledged piece of the engineering scene.

“As it were, Rittenhouse Square didn’t need to hold its old sensibilities,” Finkel said. “However, it did. Scarcely, yet you do get its feeling. … These structures could have all been similar to New York, crushed and remade as towers and the vibe would be totally gone.”

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