Rittenhouse Square is a pearl in central Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Square is bounded by Walnut Street to the north, 18th Street to the east, South Rittenhouse Street to the south, and West Rittenhouse Street to the west in southwestern corner of Philadelphia’s Center City ?? 1 Rittenhouse square area map The most inviting of William Penn’s original five public squares, Rittenhouse Square brings together all of Center City Philadelphia’s southwest quadrant, a vibrant neighborhood of shops, offices, homes, schools, hotels, and cultural institutions.
This mixture of uses and the surrounding buildings provides a constant source of people who use the square throughout the day and evening. This ever-present activity and the reasons for it led Jane Jacobs, the famous urbanist and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, to call Rittenhouse Square “the perfect neighborhood. ” History In 1682, when William Penn asked his surveyor to draw up a city plan, it included five “squares” or open spaces that reflected the statesman’s desire for a “green country town. ” There was one in the center and others at each corner of the growing town.
Rittenhouse Square was originally called Southwest Square due to its location in that part of the city. Like the other squares, it often provided a place for livestock to roam though it was never used as a burial ground, which was the case with the other squares. In 1816, the residents of this popular square asked that it be enclosed by a fence and raised funds to do so. In the next several decades, trees and walkways were added as were the first houses facing the square. The name of Southwest Square was changed in 1825 to honor David Rittenhouse, a Philadelphia astronomer and instrument maker.
By 1850, Rittenhouse Square was indeed the most fashionable place to live in Philadelphia, and by the turn of the century, it was known to boast a variety of colorful Victorian aristocracy. Some of their homes remain on the streets of the square today. Layout 2 Layout The main walkways are diagonal, beginning at the corners and meeting at a central oval. The plaza, which contains a large planter bed and a reflecting pool, is surrounded by a balustrade and ringed by a circular walk. Classical urns, many bearing relief figures of ancient Greeks, rest on pedestals at the entrances and elsewhere throughout the square.
Ornamental lampposts contribute to an air of old-fashioned gentility. A low fence surrounds the square, and balustrades adorn the corner entrances. Oaks, maples, locusts, plane trees, and others stand within and around the enclosure, and the flowerbeds and blooming shrubs add a splash of color in season. 3 Rittenhouse Square The nearby Curtis Institute of Music and the University of the Arts add a particularly artistic element to the park. At lunch time, it’s common to see office workers lunching in the park amidst students singing, painting, drawing and lounging. ? 4 Flower Market Well-shaded, it contains fountains and plenty of space for picnicking and sunbathing. Square provides ceremonial place for annual community festivals, including Flower Market (established 1914) and Juried Fine Art Show (established 1932) Square easily accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and visitors coming via Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) high-speed line; Broad Street subway; Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) subway-surface trolley line; four SEPTA bus routes.