Philadelphia’s City Plan and Layout

Philadelphia’s City Plan and Layout

Philadelphia’s City Plan and Layout (Photo: VisitPhilly)

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Grid Layout: The directionally challenged can thank city founder William Penn for Philadelphia’s logical downtown, called Center City. Perpendicular streets run north-south (numbered streets) and east-west (named mostly after trees, including Walnut, Locust and Spruce). What would be 1st Street is named Front Street, and what would be 14th Street is Broad Street, also called Avenue of the Arts. Pro tip: William Penn continues to give direction to the city. His statue atop City Hall faces northeast, so he can help people get their bearings.


Greene Countrie Town: Another Penn gem, Philadelphia’s five main squares date back to the original city. It was all part of the founder’s plan for a “greene countrie town.” Today they’re known as Rittenhouse Square, located in one of Philly’s most desirable neighborhoods; Washington Square, home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; Franklin Square, sporting a playground, carousel and mini-golf; Logan Square, now a circle along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with the stunning Swann Memorial Fountain; and Center Square, where City Hall and Dilworth Park reside. Residents and visitors enjoy walking, relaxing, picnicking and playing in these public spaces, as well as newer parks that honor Penn’s vision. Beyond Center City, Philadelphia boasts dozens of diverse and welcoming neighborhoods filled with row homes, famed foods and quirky traditions. Rittenhouse, 18th & Walnut Streets, friendsofrittenhouse.org; Washington, 7th & Walnut Streets; Franklin, 6th & Race Streets, historicphiladelphia.org; Logan, 19th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway; Center Square/Dilworth Park, Broad & Market Streets, (215) 440-5500, dilworthpark.org


Philadelphia’s Champs-Élysées: Cutting through the city grid, the diagonal Benjamin Franklin Parkway stretches from near City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the edge of Fairmount Park. Planner Paul Philippe Cret and designer Jacques Grébermodeled the mile-long thoroughfare after the Champs-Élysées of their native country. Some of the city’s most important cultural institutions line the Parkway—the Barnes Foundation, The Franklin Institute, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Rodin Museum, the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building and the crowning Philadelphia Museum of Art. Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 16th & 26th Streets, parkwaymuseumsdistrictphiladelphia.org


A Tale Of Two Rivers: Center City Philadelphia sits between two waterways: the Schuylkill River on the west and the Delaware River 30 blocks to the east. Recent developments on both waterfronts have made them bigger draws than ever before. The Schuylkill River Trail and Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk welcome walkers, runners and bikers who take advantage of this piece of the East Coast Greenway, while Spruce Street Harbor Park and Blue Cross RiverRink along the Delaware attract crowds with food, beer and a roller rink or ice-skating rink, depending on the season. Schuylkill Banks, 25th & Locust Streets, schuylkillbanks.org; Spruce Street Harbor Park, Columbus Boulevard & Spruce Street, (215) 922-2FUN, sprucestreetharborpark.com; RiverRink, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 922-2FUN, riverrink.com

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