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Rittenhouse Square

The Neighborhood Around the Park

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The Bards

The Bards Irish pub, near Rittenhouse Square park.

Photo: Meg Favreau

History

The Rittenhouse Square neighborhood encompasses the area around Rittenhouse Square park. One of the city parks designed by William Penn in the 17th century, Rittenhouse Square – then called Southwest Square – originally served as a grazing area for livestock. The park was renamed for Philadelphia astronomer and clock maker David Rittenhouse in 1825. Then, in the 1850s, the Rittenhouse area became home to what the Friends of Rittenhouse Square refer to as Philadelphia's "Victorian aristocracy," who built townhouse mansions around the square. Many of these buildings were demolished in the earlier half of the 20th century to make way for the tall apartment buildings that currently surround the area.

Rittenhouse Today

Philadelphia's aristocracy might not be so Victorian anymore, but Rittenhouse remains one of the most well-heeled neighborhoods in Philadelphia, populated with swanky high-rises, shopping and some of the city's best restaurants. The popular Rittenhouse Square park, meanwhile, attracts a diverse array of park-goers, from families to crust punks to office workers on lunch break and many others. And Rittenhouse Square isn't just the heart of the neighborhood physically, but also culturally, offering several outdoor festivals, shows and other events.

Boundaries

Part of the larger Center City area, the neighborhood's rough boundaries are:

West: The Schuylkill River
South: Pine Street
East: Broad Street
North: Market Avenue

Transportation

The Rittenhouse area is accessible from several SEPTA lines:

  • Subway: The Market-Frankford line at 15th Street and the Broad Street Line at City Hall and Walnut-Locust.
  • Trolley: The 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36 trolleys at 22nd, 19th or 15th Streets.
  • Bus: Routes servicing Rittenhouse include 2, 9, 12, 17, 21 and 42.

Parking in Rittenhouse can be difficult; spaces consist of metered street parking and paid parking garages. The neighborhood is easily accessible from I-76 and I-676.

The only street in the Rittenhouse area with a consistent bike lane is 22nd Street heading north. Despite the lack of dedicated lanes, the area is generally bike-friendly, and there are many locations available to lock up bikes around Rittenhouse Square.

Education

For grades K-8, children attend the Albert M. Greenfield School. There are two high schools in the Rittenhouse area, the Freire Charter School, which targets under-served students, and the private Center City Academy.

Real Estate

The Rittenhouse area's real estate is a mix of apartments, condos and row homes. According to Trulia, in mid-2010, the median sales price for residences in Rittenhouse Square was $482,500.

Restaurants & Bars

The Bards
An Irish pub without pretension. Has Quizzo on Tuesday nights.

2013 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-569-9585

Capogerio
The city's best gelato, offering fabulous and frequently changing flavors.

117 S. 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-636-9250

DiBruno Brothers
Cheeses, fish, imported foods, freshly made sandwiches and more are available at this popular gourmet grocer.

1730 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-665-9220

Mix Brick Oven Pizzeria and Bar
A by-the-slice pizza place in one half of the restaurant, and a bar on the other half.

2101 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-568-3355

Monk's Cafe
Philadelphia's top Belgian spot. Beers, mussels and all that Belgian jazz.

264 S. 16th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
215-545-7005

Parc
Restauranteur Stephen Starr's take on French bistro food, looking out at Rittenhouse Square.

227 S. 18th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-545-2262

Tinto
Jose Garces takes his tapas-style food to the Basque region of Spain.

114 S. 20th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-665-9150

Tria
Wine, beer and cheese are the specialties at Tria, which also offers other light eats including sandwiches, salads and hors d'oeuvres.

18th and Sansom Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-972-TRIA

Vic Sushi
This tiny spot offers delicious, reasonably priced sushi next door to Helium Comedy Club.

2035 Sansom St.
Philadelphia PA, 19103
215-564-4339

Village Whiskey
Go to Village Whiskey for one of the best-rated burgers in the city, plus several whiskeys and amazing pickles.

118 S. 20th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-665-1088

Points of Interest and Things to Do

Helium Comedy Club
Features an ever-changing array of local and nationally touring stand-up comedians.

2031 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-496-9001

The Mutter Museum
Giant skeletons, preserved tumors, mummies and more populate this museum of medical oddities.

19 S. 22nd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-563-3737

Rittenhouse Square
Perhaps Philadelphia's most popular public park, Rittenhouse is bustling with green spaces, art, fountains, shows and other events.

Beneath Walnut Street between 18th and 19th
Philadelphia, PA 19103

The Roxy
A two-screen movie theater on Sansom Street.

2023 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-923-6699

Walnut Street Shops
The area of Walnut Street near Rittenhouse Square features shops and boutiques ranging from Burberry to H&M.

Walnut Street between Broad and 18th
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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