Neighborhood guide: Old City

Old City’s many galleries open their doors with new exhibits on First Fridays.

America’s most historic square mile needs a grocery store. Old City — home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House and other tourist favorites — has more chic loft-style condos than you can shake a stick at, but it lacks some of the commercial options that help a neighborhood thrive, says realtor Antonio Atacan of Keller Williams Center City.

“There are art galleries and restaurants and bars, but there was no commercial explosion, no new diversity in terms of retail, that you see in a place like Northern Liberties,” Atacan says.

But, he adds, for a young professional working in Center City who wants easy access to hopping nightlife, Old City is perfect.

The neighborhood, which runs from Front Street to Sixth and from Walnut to Vine, also attracts some empty nesters in their 50s and 60s looking to leave the boring ’burbs behind and settle into a hip, urban condo.

“There’s a large divide between demographics here. You have the 65-year-old retirees living very cushy existences and the post-college chums bunking together and trashing their place every weekend,” says Eric Berley, 31. He and his brother, Ryan, own Franklin Fountain, an old-fashioned ice-cream shop at 116 Market St. They’re in the process of restoring Shane Confectionery, a 100-year-old candy store a few doors down.

Berley, who’s lived in Old City for seven years, says the nightlife causes occasional problems for residents — but the area has “good potential” and some new commercial development in the proposal stage.

 “The sun is rising,” he says. “I’d paint the picture as promising.”


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