Saturday, July 3, 2021

Saturday's postcard: Elfreth's Alley

Appropriate for this Independence Day weekend, here's a WYCO Products postcard of Philadelphia's Elfreth's Alley, one of the most beautiful and historic walkable streets in the United States (though it's only about 40,000 square feet total). The postcard's printed text states erroneously that the alley dates to 1690, when the actual year of establishment (initially as a cart path) was 1703. Regardless, most agree with the assertion that it's the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in America.

"Elfreth’s Alley was not included in original plans for Philadelphia. As Philadelphia became a bustling city, artisans and merchants purchased or rented property close to the ports where goods and materials arrived. This led to overcrowding, and landowners recognized that tradesmen needed alternate routes to the river. Arthur Wells and John Gilbert opened a cart path between their properties, which stretched from Front St. to Second St., in 1703. The path later became known as Elfreth’s Alley, named after Jeremiah Elfreth, blacksmith and land developer."

I've been to Elfreth's Alley once or twice, both around four decades ago, so it's kind of hazy. When I lived in Clayton, New Jersey, we took an elementary school trip to Philadelphia that hit several historic locations. And we also had a family trip or two to the city in the 1980s. But those visits kind of blend together. Anyway, I'd like to see it again some day.

This postcard was sent to my grandmother, Helen Chandler Adams Ingham (1919-2003), in 1985. It's from a couple, one of whom is named Ron. I can't read the other name. The message states:

Dear Helen,

Thank you for sending us the news about Mina. We often recall the fun times the four of us had. She was a great, one-of-a-kind lady! We've had a busy Spring: I went to Russia, Ron was in Seattle. And Monday we leave for ten days in Jugoslavia. We will call in June and make a date to see you. It has been too long!

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