Blocks We Love: 900-931 Clinton Street
There’s a classic trade-off facing every city dweller: people love the energy of downtown life, but with that vibrancy comes noise, crowds and dirt. However, tucked away in Washington Square West there’s a block that achieves a remarkable balance between beauty, serenity and a busy central location.
The little urban oasis referred to above to is the 900-931 block of Clinton Street. Located between Spruce and Pine and Ninth and Tenth streets, this block’s collection of mostly federal style townhomes makes up one half of the nationally-registered Clinton Street Historic District. With quiet sidewalks shaded by mature trees and meticulously-preserved architecture, it’s hard not to get lost in the peaceful splendor of the 900-931 block of Clinton Street.
The block’s historical and architectural legacy keeps this community particularly tranquil. Its brick townhouses were constructed mostly between 1835 and 1850, when Philadelphia’s early industrial economy boomed and the rich built homes in the newly affluent areas west of Seventh Street. The original builders also kept the block wider than most side streets, giving residents room to breathe and reducing noise and traffic.
Indeed, a visit to the 900-931 block can feel like a step back into a different era. Several of the street’s homes sport early American flags, and still more feature the navy, maroon and dark green shutters typical of Philadelphia’s federal architecture. In addition, the eastern end of the block sports a fine view of Pennsylvania Hospital (pictured above) whose brick front, marble columns and green and white cupola speaks to our city’s long relationship with medicine, as important today as it was when this block was first built.
Perhaps what’s most amazing about this little community though isn’t just its well-preserved architecture (we’ve got plenty of that in this city), but also the street’s peace and quiet amidst all the energy of Center City. Located just steps from the boutiques of Antiques Row, the bars and restaurants of Washington Square West and Jefferson University’s bustling hospital complex, you might expect the 900-931 block to be a busy, concrete side street – but you’d be wrong. Often, all you can hear is the rustling of the elm trees.
And while not as pin-drop quiet as a suburban cul-de-sac, the sense of tranquility in this little urban community may surprise even the staunchest skeptic. And that little secret, along with the block’s beauty and history, is something we’re happy to share with the world.