Originally called Holme Street , after Thomas Holme, a surveyor for William Penn, this street would undergo two more name changes throughout its life. Penn thought the street should take the name of the type of trees that lined it, indicating perfect order for his ýcountry townţ. He therefore changed the name to Mulberry Street . The arch, from which the street received its final name, was erected while the city was very young. There is a reference to it in Gabriel Thomas' History of Pennsylvania and New Jersey , published in 1698. ŰThey have,' he wrote in his history, Űcurious wharves and large timber yards,Í, where are built ships of considerable burthen ˝ they cart their goods from that wharf into the city under an arch, over which part of the street is built.ţ The 66 foot arch was at Front street , and allowed for all kinds of merchandise to be transferred from the wharf into the city. Though by 1721, the arch was condemned and removed, people continued to use the common name Arch Street . In 1854, Philadelphia consolidated addresses and street names, and therefore took this opportunity to officially change Mulberry Street to Arch Street , which has remained to present day. (Public Ledger ˝ Philadelphia, Sunday Morning, November 16, 1913)




Starting in the late 1700s, Arch Street stood on the edge of the developing river-city of Philadelphia , straddling the higher class residential area to the east and the sparsely populated Űcountryside' to the west. Even by the turn of the 19 th century, the block was only semi-developed with larger homes, including the well-known David Rittenhouse, Treasurer of Pennsylvania and Director of the US Mint in 1789. Other notable people and buildings on Arch Street include the Hiltzheimer House where Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, the Betsy Ross house, the Arch Street Theatre and the Friends Meeting House at 4 th and Arch St. Gradually, as the commercial district from the Delaware River expanded westward, the first residents also moved westward in escape ˝ the result for the 800-block of Arch St . (as well as Market and others) in the early 1800s was increased commercial development and mixed-use houses. Starting from Arch Street Warf and continuing west, one was able to shop for household products, clothing, or visit the dentist. This area, along with other streets such as Market, comprised the center city of Philadelphia . It was a bustling area of trade and private enterprise. This continued into the late 1800s, when smaller specialty shops were consolidated into larger manufacturing or warehousing buildings. In 1888, a fire destroyed most of the 800 block of Arch Street , forcing the property owners to rebuild and renovate. At the turn of the 20 th century, the center of city shifts westward toward what is present day Philadelphia center city. What was once an area bustling of shops, mixed-use residencies, and historically important buildings, develops into industrialized warehouses and factories. In the 1960s urban blight takes hold as warehouses and shops alike were forced to close. With rampant derelict buildings, the block was razed. Only recently has this area of the city seen commercial rejuvenation, resulting in some newer development and the streetscape we see today.

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