Bookmark and Share
Elfreths Alley
126 Elfreths Alley
Old City
Philadelphia, Pa 19106
Cross Street: E.Church Ln
Hours of Operation
Guided Tours: Adults $5; family $12.00; children 6–12 years $2.00; children under 6 FREE Hours Tuesday. thruSaturday 10 am– 5 pm Sunday 12noon thru 5pm Tickets and guidebooks available from the Museum Store

Elfreth's Alley is popularly known as "Our nation’s oldest residential street" – dates back to the first days of the eighteenth century. Twenty years after William Penn founded Pennsylvania and established Philadelphia as its capital, the town had grown into a thriving, prosperous mercantile center on the banks of the Delaware River.

Philadelphians had abandoned Penn’s plan for a "greene countrie towne" and instead created a cityscape similar to what they remembered in England. Wharves stretched out into the river, welcoming ships from around the world. Shops, taverns, and homes crowded the area along the river. Philadelphians made and sold items essential to life in the New World and to the trade that was a part of their daily lives.

Two of these colonial craftsmen, blacksmiths John Gilbert and Arthur Wells, owned the land where Elfreth’s Alley now sits. In 1702, each man gave up a portion of his land to create an alleyway along their property line that connected their smithies near the river with Second Street, one block away. By that date, Second was a major north-south road, connecting Philadelphia with towns north and west of the city and the frontier beyond.

Only houses 124 and 126 are open to the public. Elfreth's Alley hopes to add House 128 to the museum complex as an education, sales, and program center in the days ahead. The other houses remain private homes where Philadelphia families have lived in the same spaces for 300 years. Alley residents open some of these homes every year, as part of the Fete Day and Deck the Alley celebrations.

  • Guide Books: Inside These Doors, the self-guided walking tour of the Alley's private homes. This tour does not include access to the interior of any of the houses.  $5.00
  • About: When the Elfreth's Alley Association was founded in 1934 one of the early members, Ms. Eliza Newkirk Rodgers, started keeping a scrapbook. She cut out newspaper articles, collected photographs, stories from magazines, pamphlets, and other ephemera from the early years of the Association's history. The thirty-two buildings along Elfreth's Alley were built between the 1720s and 1830s, and today they reveal the fascinating stories of everyday life, the spaces that America's founders knew. You can hear the house-by-house story of the Alley's early residents through our free cellphone tours, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • The Elfreth's Alley Museum: tells several unique stories about early Philadelphia. The Museum is located in 124 and 126 Elfreth's Alley. Guided tours begin in the giftshop (number 124), and tell the amazing story of two dressmakers whose sewing business in house 126 reveals the lives of early American women, workers, and the transformations that came with the age of factories and industry.
  • Eighteenth Century: 1765-1790
    The lessons in this section explore the lives of African-Americans on the Alley and artisans on the Alley. 

    Nineteenth Century: 1865-1880
    Elfreth's Alley in the 19th century was the home of immigrant families who were getting a foothold in America.

    Twentieth Century: 1950-1965
    In the mid-20th century, Elfreth's Alley became a focal point in the public debate over the building of the Delaware Expressway.
Copyright © 2007 - 2010 All Rights Reserved