Old City today is a touristy neighborhood that’s also full of stylish residents who walk purebred pups through the picturesque cobblestone streets of “America’s Most Historic Square Mile.”
But for much of modern history, that square mile was way less glamorous.
Back in the Revolutionary era, Old City, like many waterfront areas of the time, was home to brewers, factories, warehouses, taverns, crafters and lots of cheap boarding houses for dock workers and sailors. Every brick in every building and every small alleyway was planned and fabricated not for gentile society, but rather to make transporting goods easier. The city’s commerce depended on getting port deliveries from the banks of the Delaware to the market on — you guessed it — Market Street (though it was originally called High Street).
Basically, it was the bad side of town, where any respectable top-hat-wearing rich dude wouldn’t be caught dead. Still, it was where lots money was made, all the way from the 17th century to the early 20th, when it was a buzzing industrial hub full of manufacturing. Then the Great Depression hit, and Old City was all but abandoned.
Flash forward to the 1960s. Artists began taking advantage of Old City’s cheap rent and large spaces. The creative community embraced the area and began turning warehouses into lofts, galleries, studios and performance spaces. Many of them are still thriving today, interspersed with the bars, restaurants and clubs that have since flooded the area.
So although Old City’s alleyways are constantly packed with camera-toting and Segway-riding tourists, the neighborhood style manages to match the creativity of an artsy community built on the foundation of an industrial past.
Next time you’re strolling the streets on First Friday keep your eyes out for…
Vintage inspired maxi dresses…
Romantic cuts, colors, and silhouettes…
…and dapper styling with artistic flair.