An Early History of Rittenhouse, Pennsylvania

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The abuse attorneys from Rittenhouse bring you the following article on the neighborhood. We hope you learn something new about the area through our informative content.

Rittenhouse: From Past to Present

Rittenhouse Square, or Rittenhouse, is a neighborhood in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the highest-income urban neighborhoods in the United States and is part of the Rittenhouse-Filter Historic District. The area was originally known as Southwest Square. However, in 1825, it was renamed Rittenhouse Square after David Rittenhouse, a descendant of German immigrant William Rittenhouse – the first paper-maker in Philadelphia.

During the early 1800s, as the city grew from the Delaware River to the Schuylkill River, Rittenhouse Square became a highly desireable address. Around 1840, James Harper, a merchant and brick manufacturer, was the first person to build on the square. Buying most of its north frontage, he erected a stately townhouse on Walnut Street for himself. He then proceeded to sell the rest of his land by lots.

Rittenhouse was home to a number of wealthy and prominent families. This includes:

  • Alexander Cassatt, president of Philadelphia Railroad
  • William Weightman, a real estate owner
  • John Wanamaker, a department store founder
  • Edmund Bacon, director of Philadelphia planning commission
  • Kevin Bacon, an actor

The neighborhood historically featured Victorian mansions. However, it has been replaced by high-rise apartments and hotels. Throughout the years, Rittenhouse has been changed the least out of the four original squares in Philadelphia. Its physical layout and character can still be seen in the neighborhood.

Learn more: Kensington, PA, Through the Centuries

Rittenhouse Square Park

Rittenhouse Square Park is one of the original five open-space parks that was planned by William Penn and his surveyor Thomas Holme in the late 1600s. Maintained by The Friends of Rittenhouse Square, a non-profit group, it is bounded by Walnut Street on the north, 18th Street on the east, Rittenhouse Square on the south and West Rittenhouse Square on the west. The tree-filled park is surrounded by:

  • Luxury apartments
  • High rise residences
  • An office tower
  • Popular restaurants
  • A Barneys
  • A Starbucks
  • A Barnes & Noble bookstore
  • A five-star hotel

It features many works of public art like a statue of a lion, Billy the goat by Philadelphian Albert Laessle, and a bas relief-bust of J. William White by R. Tait McKenzie. The park is a popular designation for children and their parents. In the afternoon, residents and workers in the area and its surrounding neighborhoods frequent the park for lunch-time and dog walking. The green grasses and many benches offer a tranquil place to relax. On September 14, 1981, the park was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

Throughout the year, the Rittenhouse Square Park is also the host of dozens of events for the neighborhoods. Some of the festivities are the blockbuster Rittenhouse Square Spring Festival, Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show, and Rittenhouse Square Christmas Tree Lighting. Every Saturday, the Farm to City organization also hosts the farmer's market of Rittenhouse Square.

The Rosenbach

The Rosenbach is a museum and library in Rittenhouse Square. Established in 1954 in two 1800s townhouses, it contains the collections and treasures of Philip Rosenbach and Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach, his younger brother. Some of which are the decorative arts collections, rare books and manuscripts from the Americana collection, Irish, British and American literature collection, Maurice Sendak collection, and the archive of book illustrations. On April 2, 2008, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission gave the Rosenbach an official State Historical Marker. In 2013, it became a subsidiary of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. The museum and library are open Fridays through Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. It can be found on Delancey Place.

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