Philadelphia is a remarkable city of firsts. It is home to the country's first zoo, the first children's hospital, the first stock exchange, the first mint, the first art school and museum, and more. And, of course, Philadelphia is where America's first birthday is celebrated. No visit to Philadelphia would be complete without a stop at Elfreth's Alley.
Representing 300 years of history, the 32 buildings along Elfreth's Alley were built between the 1720s and the 1830s, and reveal the fascinating stories of the daily lives of the founders of the United States at the time. It is the oldest residential street in the United States, offering a museum and several historic houses, many of which still serve as private residences without garages or cable television. In June, usually the first weekend, residents of Elfreth's Alley open their homes and gardens to the public. And don't drive down the alley, please.
Then, head to Reading Terminal Market on an empty stomach. You'll want to save space for the variety of cuisines that are available around every corner, from delicious sandwiches to cheeses and artisanal desserts. This famous foodie paradise has been serving since 1892 and there are plenty of vendors to choose from. As you walk, watch cooking demonstrations in front of your eyes or take home some of the fresh produce grown on Amish merchants farms.
Plus, stay at the annual Pennsylvania Dutch Festival to celebrate traditional foods and handmade crafts. Philadelphia Chinatown is a predominantly Asian-American neighborhood in downtown Philadelphia. Beyond the colorful China Gate at 10th and Arch Streets is Philadelphia's vibrant Asian enclave, established in the mid-19th century by Cantonese immigrants. Although small compared to its hectic and expanding counterpart in New York, Philadelphia's Chinatown is homey and not so daunting.
However, it is a true ethnic neighborhood, full of energy and a great selection of restaurants and markets to sample Chinese culture and food. The neighborhood is filled with restaurants and shops that represent true ethnic colors and flavors. Look what's in your fortune cookie. Philadelphia is home to more public art than any other city in the country and has world-class museums such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum.
Philadelphia also takes its art to the streets, encouraging large public murals through its Wall Art Program. In Philadelphia, every wall is a potential blank canvas, and stunning murals adorn the exteriors of buildings throughout the city. A public art project that encourages local artists to create works using the city's architecture has embellished the City of Brotherly Love and created an enduring cultural legacy. Initiated in 1984 to help eradicate graffiti, the Mural Art Program enables professional artists and young people in Philadelphia to showcase their artistic talent in a constructive way.
Rittenhouse Square, one of William Penn's five originals, was known as the Southwest Square until 1825, when it received its name from astronomer watchmaker David Rittenhouse. Nowadays, private homes are gone, but it still counts to live in the square. The park is perfectly located between wonderful restaurants and shops, and is always full of musicians, artists, families and picnics. On Saturdays, the farmers' market occupies one block from the square and you can buy everything from fresh flowers to homemade donuts, breads, chocolates, vegetables and hot soup.
So, get back on your feet on a good day and remember to see the beautiful charm and old architecture of the buildings on the streets of the neighborhood. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is known as the City of Brotherly Love, but it wears a lot of hats. It's a modern city, steeped in history, home to tight-knit communities and welcomes newcomers anyway. .