alley

Posted by Ellen

In 1860, when grand homes were being built along Walnut Street west of Rittenhouse Square, the need arose for grand stables nearby.

An entire block of a side street–then called Heberton, now Chancellor–was upgraded to house the carriages and steeds of the new Rittenhouse elite. The street was paved with granite blocks and widened to twice the usual side-street width, so that carriages could be driven directly in and out of stable doors, instead of being dragged by humans into the street and then turned before hitching the horses.

Five of the stables have survived; they are now condos and office suites, with garage parking in back. The block is a popular site for wedding photography.

In back of the stables is a much narrower street–Millowney then, St. James now–that housed the servants.

Posted by Ellen

Just a few years ago, Monday in the neighborhood was obviously washday, as in this scene looking out over the alley behind South Taney Street. But that was then; nowadays, rowhouse backyards like these, minus the clotheslines, are described in realtor-speak as perfect for entertaining. 

Posted by Ellen

On a day like this, all the neighborhood cats stayed indoors snoozing by the heater.