Home to the largest collection of original 18th- and 19th-century houses in the United States, this was one of Philadelphia’s most affluent neighborhoods until the early 1900s, when the city’s cultural and historical focus began to shift westward – along with City Hall. It was revamped throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, and is once again considered a tasteful, popular address.
There are several addresses here on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Society Hill Synagogue, built in 1829 by one of the architects who designed the U.S. Capitol; and the Merchant’s Exchange Building, a Greek Revival masterpiece designed in the early 1830s by William Strickland, architect of the Second Bank/Portrait Gallery building. Seek out Washington Square and Head House Square – two of the original five squares laid out by city founder William Penn -- and Bouvier’s Row (3rd & Spruce Streets), where ancestors of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis owned three Victorian brownstones.
Set just to the west of the Delaware River and a couple of blocks south of Independence Mall, it’s easy to make a stroll around Society Hill part of a concentrated day of sightseeing.