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Society Hill is one of the 15 historic districts in Philadelphia.
Society Hill is one of the 15 historic districts in Philadelphia.
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Mapping Philly's 15 historic districts

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Society Hill is one of the 15 historic districts in Philadelphia.
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This story was first published in 2017, and has recently been updated with the newest information.

The City of Brotherly Love is steeped in history, with more than a dozen specific areas certified historic. These areas within the city, from Rittenhouse-Fitler Square to Society Hill, achieve the designation for their collection of historic resources that are linked either geographically or thematically, according to the Philadelphia Historical Commission. If a property is located in a historic district, any proposed changes to it are subject to review by the commission.

That said, it's not easy earning this designation, which may explain why there are only 15 historic districts* in the city, and we've mapped all of them here. One of them, 420 Row in Spruce Hill, became the 15th historic district in early January 2017, seven years after the last designation.

It's just one interesting way to learn about Philadelphia, through the lens of these small districts, which include everything from a midcentury modern development in Northeast Philadelphia—the first racially integrated in the city—to an enclave of Tudor homes in East Falls.

We've included the boundaries of each district, and if you want to learn more about each one, the website link will take you to the official nomination document.

*Editor's note: The districts are listed in order of the year they were designated, beginning with 2017. We did not include the historic district titled "Historic Street Paving" since the sites are scattered throughout the city.

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1. 420 Row

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411 S 42nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Philly's newest historic district is 420 Row, a collection of eight ornate homes on the west side of 42nd Street in University City. It was just added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 2017. The three-story homes were designed and built by G.W. and W.D. Hewitt in the early 1880s, and was the first Queen Anne-style development in Spruce Hill.

Boundaries: 420 to 434 S. 42nd Street

Google Streetview

2. Awbury

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999 E Haines St
Philadelphia, PA 19138

Much of Awbury Arboretum encompasses this district, but it also includes 25-plus structures, many of them that have ties to the prominent Cope family. The Copes first began their purchase of the land in 1849.

Boundaries: Ardleigh Street, E. Haines Street, Devon Place, and Avonhoe Road in Germantown

Courtesy of Awbury Arboretum's Facebook page

3. East Logan Street

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39 E Logan St
Philadelphia, PA 19144

Also in Germantown is the East Logan Historic District, which was designated historic in 2010. This collection of 30 structures dates back to as early as 1729, when one of the first residences was built. Today, it includes a mix of single-family homes, carriage houses, and industrial buildings, as well as the Hood Cemetery.

Boundaries: From 14 E. Logan Street to the south, 53 E. Logan Street to the west, 213 E. Logan Street to the north, and 92 E. Logan Street to the east.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

4. Tudor East Falls

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3400 Midvale Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19129

Within the East Falls neighborhood sits a series of streets lined with 210 Tudor-style homes that were built from 1925 through the 1930s by developer Michael J. McCrudden. The idyllic homes, for the most part, appear relatively untouched. It was added to the register in 2009.

Boundaries: The 3400 blocks of Midvale Avenue, West Penn Street, and West Queen Lane

Courtesy of Christine Edwin

5. Parkside

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Parkside Ave & N 41st St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

The Parkside Historic District sits on the edge of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia and dates back to 1890. That's when a group of builders decided to take advantage of the extension of public transportation to the neighborhood and the success of the Centennial Exposition in Fairmount Park. Today, there are numerous architecturally significant structures that line the block of Parkside Avenue, designed by architects like Willis G. Hale (of the Divine Lorraine) and J.C. Worthington, among others.

Boundaries: Parkside Avenue at N. 41st Street to 4262 Parkside Avenue, northwest to 4281 Viola Street, southwest to Viola Street.

Courtesy of historic nomination

6. Greenbelt Knoll

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19 Longford St
Philadelphia, PA 19136

Greenbelt Knoll in Northeast Philly started out as a collection of 19 midcentury modern homes—one has been lost since—built in 1956 by Morris Milgram, the leader of the open housing movement in the U.S. It became the first racially integrated housing development in Philly, and one of the first in the country. The neighborhood design was led by Robert Bishop, who was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, and Louis Kahn was a consultant.

Boundaries: Surrounded on three sides by Pennypack Park and runs along Longford Street.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

7. Old City

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Interestingly, Old City, once home to many of America's founding fathers, was not designated a historic district until 2003. The district dates back to as early as 1676, and today is home to some 800 structures that include residences, churches, old banks, institutions, and commercial office buildings—all rich in history.

Boundaries: Independence NationalHistorical Park at the south and west, the Vine Street Expressway at the north, and theDelaware River at the east.

Photo by Melissa Romero

8. Spring Garden

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N 24th St & Wallace St
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Today, Spring Garden District is a mix of quaint and picturesque homes, but before it was simply farmland. The first major building boom occurred on this land in 1858, with the rise of horse-drawn street car services to the area. Much of the architecture was Greek Revival and Italianate style. It wasn't until the next construction boom starting in 1877 that builders began to experiment with other architecture styles, ranging from Second Empire to Queen Anne to Beaux Arts.

Boundaries: Fairmount Avenue, Spring Garden, N. 15th Street, and N. 24th Street

Flickr/Alexis Lewis

9. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park

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1400 Pattison Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19145

Formerly known as League Island Park, FDR Park was designed in 1912 by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son of the famed landscape architect. As the nomination states, the park features typical Olmsted features: "A wide expanse of field greets visitors as they first enter the park; the flow of each earea is subtly separated for specific activities, and the lack of any one site or piece of architecture is viewed for its individual beauty."

The park is about to undergo a project to remake it into an “urban oasis,” which means—among other things—structural repairs and repaving.

Boundaries: Southwest corner of Broad and Pattison streets, west to 20th Street, east to I-95 to Broad.

Wikimedia Commons

10. Girard Estate

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S 17th St & W Porter St
Philadelphia, PA 19145

This L-shaped South Philly district is named after Stephen Girard, who was once the richest man in the U.S. and the owner of a country home, Gentihommiere, which remains standing. Father and son John and James Windrim designed 421 dwellings on the land beginning in 1906, a mix of styles including Bungalow, Prairie, Mission, Colonial Revival, Jacobean Revival, Tudor Revival, and Craftsman.

Boundaries: Shunk, Porter, South 17th, and South 22d Streets.

Wikimedia Commons

11. Society Hill

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The Society Hill Historic District, designated in 1999, contains one of the largest collections of 18th- and 19th-century buildings in the nation, from Colonial to Federal to Georgian dwellings. It has maintained its historic fabric over the years, with very little development, save for a development boom post-World War II that includes the Society Hill Towers by IM Pei. The historic district also includes Washington Square West.

Boundaries: See the official map here.

Photo by Melissa Romero

12. Diamond Street

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N Broad St & Diamond St
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Diamond Street District exists because of the population boom in Philly during the 1850s. All of the elaborate structures, including Second Empire and Victorian rowhomes and Gothic Revival churches, were built between 1875 and 1897, namely for the "new rich" of North Broad. Per the nomination, "The row houses and churches of Diamond Street represent one of the most grand and stylistically intact avenue of Victorian architecture in the City of Philadelphia."

Boundaries: Diamond Street from Broad to Van Pelt streets.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

13. Rittenhouse/Fitler Square

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S 22nd St & Ludlow St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

The Rittenhouse-Fitler Square Historic District has, for the most part, been an exclusive residential neighborhood centered around one of William Penn's original squares. It's rich in architectural history, given that many of the wealthy families who built homes here hired famed architects like John Haviland, Horace Trumbauer, and Frank Furness to design their brownstone mansions. It was one of the first districts that earned historic designation, in 1995.

Boundaries: It's complicated, so here's the official map.

Photo by Kate Devlin

14. Park Avenue

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1830 N Park Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Like its neighboring Diamond Street District (#12), Park Mall (or Park Avenue) was a result of the North Broad industrial boom of the late 19th century. Per the nomination, Park Avenue housed some of the best preserved examples of speculative housing built for the middle classes in North Philly. But today, it's nearly unrecognizable as Liacorous Walk, part of Temple University's campus. The photo above shows the 1800 block of Park Avenue being demolished in 1959 to make way for Liacorous Walk.

Boundaries: 1800 to 1946 Park Avenue

Conwellana-Templana Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries

15. Main Street Manayunk

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Main St
Philadelphia, PA 19127

Just five miles from Center City, it's common to feel world's away from Philly when on Main Street in Manayunk. The district was the first to be designated historic in 1984, recognizing the area's historical significance as a town on the Schuylkill River, heavily influenced by the canal to this day. Mill buildings dating back to the 1840s and 1850s remain, while Main Street has become a lively retail and restaurant corridor.

Boundaries: Reading Railroad to the east, Flat Rock Dam to the north, lots 4025-6 to the south, and Schuylkill River to the west.

Wikimedia Commons

1. 420 Row

411 S 42nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Google Streetview

Philly's newest historic district is 420 Row, a collection of eight ornate homes on the west side of 42nd Street in University City. It was just added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 2017. The three-story homes were designed and built by G.W. and W.D. Hewitt in the early 1880s, and was the first Queen Anne-style development in Spruce Hill.

Boundaries: 420 to 434 S. 42nd Street

411 S 42nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

2. Awbury

999 E Haines St, Philadelphia, PA 19138
Courtesy of Awbury Arboretum's Facebook page

Much of Awbury Arboretum encompasses this district, but it also includes 25-plus structures, many of them that have ties to the prominent Cope family. The Copes first began their purchase of the land in 1849.

Boundaries: Ardleigh Street, E. Haines Street, Devon Place, and Avonhoe Road in Germantown

999 E Haines St
Philadelphia, PA 19138

3. East Logan Street

39 E Logan St, Philadelphia, PA 19144
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Also in Germantown is the East Logan Historic District, which was designated historic in 2010. This collection of 30 structures dates back to as early as 1729, when one of the first residences was built. Today, it includes a mix of single-family homes, carriage houses, and industrial buildings, as well as the Hood Cemetery.

Boundaries: From 14 E. Logan Street to the south, 53 E. Logan Street to the west, 213 E. Logan Street to the north, and 92 E. Logan Street to the east.

39 E Logan St
Philadelphia, PA 19144

4. Tudor East Falls

3400 Midvale Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19129
Courtesy of Christine Edwin

Within the East Falls neighborhood sits a series of streets lined with 210 Tudor-style homes that were built from 1925 through the 1930s by developer Michael J. McCrudden. The idyllic homes, for the most part, appear relatively untouched. It was added to the register in 2009.

Boundaries: The 3400 blocks of Midvale Avenue, West Penn Street, and West Queen Lane

3400 Midvale Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19129

5. Parkside

Parkside Ave & N 41st St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Courtesy of historic nomination

The Parkside Historic District sits on the edge of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia and dates back to 1890. That's when a group of builders decided to take advantage of the extension of public transportation to the neighborhood and the success of the Centennial Exposition in Fairmount Park. Today, there are numerous architecturally significant structures that line the block of Parkside Avenue, designed by architects like Willis G. Hale (of the Divine Lorraine) and J.C. Worthington, among others.

Boundaries: Parkside Avenue at N. 41st Street to 4262 Parkside Avenue, northwest to 4281 Viola Street, southwest to Viola Street.

Parkside Ave & N 41st St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

6. Greenbelt Knoll

19 Longford St, Philadelphia, PA 19136
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Greenbelt Knoll in Northeast Philly started out as a collection of 19 midcentury modern homes—one has been lost since—built in 1956 by Morris Milgram, the leader of the open housing movement in the U.S. It became the first racially integrated housing development in Philly, and one of the first in the country. The neighborhood design was led by Robert Bishop, who was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, and Louis Kahn was a consultant.

Boundaries: Surrounded on three sides by Pennypack Park and runs along Longford Street.

19 Longford St
Philadelphia, PA 19136

7. Old City

Philadelphia, PA 19107
Photo by Melissa Romero

Interestingly, Old City, once home to many of America's founding fathers, was not designated a historic district until 2003. The district dates back to as early as 1676, and today is home to some 800 structures that include residences, churches, old banks, institutions, and commercial office buildings—all rich in history.

Boundaries: Independence NationalHistorical Park at the south and west, the Vine Street Expressway at the north, and theDelaware River at the east.

8. Spring Garden

N 24th St & Wallace St, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Flickr/Alexis Lewis

Today, Spring Garden District is a mix of quaint and picturesque homes, but before it was simply farmland. The first major building boom occurred on this land in 1858, with the rise of horse-drawn street car services to the area. Much of the architecture was Greek Revival and Italianate style. It wasn't until the next construction boom starting in 1877 that builders began to experiment with other architecture styles, ranging from Second Empire to Queen Anne to Beaux Arts.

Boundaries: Fairmount Avenue, Spring Garden, N. 15th Street, and N. 24th Street

N 24th St & Wallace St
Philadelphia, PA 19130

9. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park

1400 Pattison Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19145
Wikimedia Commons

Formerly known as League Island Park, FDR Park was designed in 1912 by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son of the famed landscape architect. As the nomination states, the park features typical Olmsted features: "A wide expanse of field greets visitors as they first enter the park; the flow of each earea is subtly separated for specific activities, and the lack of any one site or piece of architecture is viewed for its individual beauty."

The park is about to undergo a project to remake it into an “urban oasis,” which means—among other things—structural repairs and repaving.

Boundaries: Southwest corner of Broad and Pattison streets, west to 20th Street, east to I-95 to Broad.

1400 Pattison Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19145

10. Girard Estate

S 17th St & W Porter St, Philadelphia, PA 19145
Wikimedia Commons

This L-shaped South Philly district is named after Stephen Girard, who was once the richest man in the U.S. and the owner of a country home, Gentihommiere, which remains standing. Father and son John and James Windrim designed 421 dwellings on the land beginning in 1906, a mix of styles including Bungalow, Prairie, Mission, Colonial Revival, Jacobean Revival, Tudor Revival, and Craftsman.

Boundaries: Shunk, Porter, South 17th, and South 22d Streets.

S 17th St & W Porter St
Philadelphia, PA 19145

11. Society Hill

Philadelphia, PA
Photo by Melissa Romero

The Society Hill Historic District, designated in 1999, contains one of the largest collections of 18th- and 19th-century buildings in the nation, from Colonial to Federal to Georgian dwellings. It has maintained its historic fabric over the years, with very little development, save for a development boom post-World War II that includes the Society Hill Towers by IM Pei. The historic district also includes Washington Square West.

Boundaries: See the official map here.

12. Diamond Street

N Broad St & Diamond St, Philadelphia, PA 19122
Courtesy of Library of Congress

Diamond Street District exists because of the population boom in Philly during the 1850s. All of the elaborate structures, including Second Empire and Victorian rowhomes and Gothic Revival churches, were built between 1875 and 1897, namely for the "new rich" of North Broad. Per the nomination, "The row houses and churches of Diamond Street represent one of the most grand and stylistically intact avenue of Victorian architecture in the City of Philadelphia."

Boundaries: Diamond Street from Broad to Van Pelt streets.

N Broad St & Diamond St
Philadelphia, PA 19122

13. Rittenhouse/Fitler Square

S 22nd St & Ludlow St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Photo by Kate Devlin

The Rittenhouse-Fitler Square Historic District has, for the most part, been an exclusive residential neighborhood centered around one of William Penn's original squares. It's rich in architectural history, given that many of the wealthy families who built homes here hired famed architects like John Haviland, Horace Trumbauer, and Frank Furness to design their brownstone mansions. It was one of the first districts that earned historic designation, in 1995.

Boundaries: It's complicated, so here's the official map.

S 22nd St & Ludlow St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

14. Park Avenue

1830 N Park Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19122
Conwellana-Templana Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries

Like its neighboring Diamond Street District (#12), Park Mall (or Park Avenue) was a result of the North Broad industrial boom of the late 19th century. Per the nomination, Park Avenue housed some of the best preserved examples of speculative housing built for the middle classes in North Philly. But today, it's nearly unrecognizable as Liacorous Walk, part of Temple University's campus. The photo above shows the 1800 block of Park Avenue being demolished in 1959 to make way for Liacorous Walk.

Boundaries: 1800 to 1946 Park Avenue

1830 N Park Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19122

15. Main Street Manayunk

Main St, Philadelphia, PA 19127
Wikimedia Commons

Just five miles from Center City, it's common to feel world's away from Philly when on Main Street in Manayunk. The district was the first to be designated historic in 1984, recognizing the area's historical significance as a town on the Schuylkill River, heavily influenced by the canal to this day. Mill buildings dating back to the 1840s and 1850s remain, while Main Street has become a lively retail and restaurant corridor.

Boundaries: Reading Railroad to the east, Flat Rock Dam to the north, lots 4025-6 to the south, and Schuylkill River to the west.

Main St
Philadelphia, PA 19127