Old City is steeped in history!
Why We Like It: A living and breathing history book. Old City is filled with many of Philadelphia's most popular historical attractions. Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell and Elfreth's Alley all call this neighborhood home. Old City also has many fine restaurants and bars, a strong arts community and some wonderful old factories turned into apartments and condominiums. It's also in a super convenient location with easy access to 95, Delaware Ave. and the Ben Franklin Bridge.
Why We Don't Like It: Old City was one of the first neighborhoods to become extremely popular when Center City saw its renaissance in the 1980's and 1990's. Its popularity has waned though as neighborhoods like Rittenhouse Square and Northern Liberties have grown more popular. The weekend nightlife can be loud and raucous as kids from Jersey flood the lounges and bars around 2nd St. and Market St. Tour groups, while always welcome, can slow your day to day as they hover around the neighborhoods numerous historical sites. Finally, since many of the factories and warehouses were converted to residential dwellings 20+ years ago, some of the inventory can show a little bit tired.
Housing Stock: Not many single-family homes exist in Old City. Those homes that do exist are on the north side of the neighborhood. One should note that Elfreth's Alley is in Old City. Elfreth's Alley is the oldest continually inhabited residential block in America. The majority of buyers that search in Old City tend to be looking for condos. Most condos are in medium to large-size buildings that are former factories and warehouses. Some of theses buildings are rentals and are not available for sale. There are also some new condo buildings that were built during the boom in the mid 2000's. Old City also has a lot of mixed-use properties with ground floor retail and apartments above. Many of these walk-ups are rentals as well but some are condos and can be bought/sold. The balance of the neighborhood is offices and structures with historic designation.
Price Points: Since Old City is mostly a condo market, the majority of properties are 1 and 2-bedroom units. You can find a studio or 1-bedroom space for under $300K but it will probably be a bit tired or on the small side. Many properties sell in the $300K to $500K range. Some buildings have a parking option and condo fees are generally less than $500/month. Larger and newer units can definitely sell above $500K but most sales do not exceed $1 million.
Places of Interest: Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell, National Constitution Center, Elfreth's Alley, Betsy Ross House, Christ Church, First Bank of the US, Free Quaker Meeting House, The Bourse.
Food/Restaurants: Fork, Continental, Buddakan, Radicchio Cafe, Amada, Chloe, Plough & The Stars, Khyber Pass, Eulogy, Triumph Brewing Company, Campo's, City Tavern.
Schools: McCall Elementary, Saint Mary Interparochial, Mastery Charter, Constitution High School
The Bottom Line: Old City is a must see if you're visiting Philadelphia for the first time. It's literally the birthplace of America and every Philadelphian should be proud of the history behind its walls and on its pavements. Unfortunately, today many of my clients prefer to live elsewhere. Unless you absolutely need to be close to work or if you commute often on 95 or the Ben Franklin Bridge, other neighborhoods seems to make more sense. Condos are more or less your only option and similar prices can be found elsewhere. Many of the units (and buildings in general) need a refresh. The bars and restaurants are great and First Friday a blast but most people would rather take the occasional trip to the neighborhood rather than live there full time.