Cherry Street between Front and 2nd Streets (Elfreth's Alley)
P.8513.138 Photographer's manuscript note on verso: The most interesting street from an artistic and colonial viewpoint in Phila., no. side Cherry St bet. 2" and 3 Sts. Mostly Americans live in this square. Note second house from left. An excellent type of colonial home, in good state of preservation. Flemish bond and ribbon front. Formerly a private school for young ladies. Large rooms. High ceilings. P.8513.14
Photograph by author, 2005 Photograph by author, 2005

Though Wilson labeled the photographs as being of Cherry Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets, this is actually the block between Front and 2nd Streets, better known today as Elfreth’s Alley, the nation’s oldest continually residential street. The oldest houses here were built between 1702 and 1704, and the street was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1960. Today, the block is famous in Philadelphia, but the fact that Wilson mistakes its location and does not refer to it as Elfreth’s Alley shows it has not yet achieved its notoriety as a historic place.

The census records of 1920 for this block show a dense population of mostly American or Irish families whose main occupations most commonly consist of policemen, firemen, or laborers.


E.V. Smith Fire Insurance Atlas, 1921, pl. 5