When it comes to the holiday season, there is one block in the Historic Rittenhouse-Fitler Square District that attracts more lovers than any other. Every week throughout the year, but especially during the festive season, couples come to the 1700 block of Addison Street to pop the question.
“It’s one of the top five locations in the City for engagements, along with the Rocky Steps and Race Street Pier,” said John Ryan, co-owner of J&J Studios which specializes in wedding, portrait, and special events photography. “They come for the lights,” he said.
Residents of 1700 Addison have draped its Ginko trees with lights since 2017. “They are up all year, not just at Christmas. The effect is magical, especially when it snows,” said Ryan. “Those lights, combined with the orange of the streetlights above the trees, give the effect of an arch overhead illuminating the street with a warm glow. This little side street has been named by multiple different sources as one of the prettiest streets in not only Philadelphia but the Northeast United States.”
It’s not just during the winter that the street is glorious. After it rains, everything sparkles. (With a nod to sustainability, there are 15,000 energy-efficient LED bulbs twinkling in the trees.)
“Usually, it’s the groom who contacts me and sets up the surprise proposal which starts off with dinner in a Rittenhouse Square restaurant like Barclay Prime,” said Ryan. “It’s such a popular engagement site that sometimes there are multiple couples and photographers the same evening.”
So how do the residents of this charming Colonial block feel about flashbulbs popping on a regular basis? “Sometimes they are annoyed but mostly they are good-natured. One night, while I was photographing a couple, a resident opened his door and offered them a bottle of Champagne,” said Ryan.
Many of the couples Ryan shoots on Addison Street end up hiring him to photograph their wedding. “We offer a special discount following the engagement photoshoot. Then, following the wedding, we offer a Client for Life discount. We do one free shoot per year and they get to decide how many photos they want to buy. This way they can document their milestones – anniversaries, births, graduations, etc.”
Placed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1995, the red brick houses on Addison Street were built in the late 19th Century and many have 21st-century upgrades. Colonial style, evident in the exterior brick, marble steps, wooden shutters, window boxes, crown moldings, beamed ceilings, and traditional fireplaces exists in harmony with contemporary kitchens and bathrooms. Many have lovely patios and landscaped courtyards. Note the iron posts for tying up horses. If you truly fall in love with the 1700 block of Addison, this three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath, row houses sell in the $700K range. Or rent one for $3K.
Now considered one of the best blocks in Philly, in the mid-1950s, it was once part of a low-income neighborhood that was included in a horticulture beautification program organized by the Neighborhood Gardens Association, a precursor to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
You don’t have to be in love to appreciate the timeless charm of the 1700 block of Addison Street which the Huffington Post proclaimed the “arguably the prettiest street in the entire Northeast.” You just need a sense of wonder and delight.
Take the time to stop by to see it for yourself this holiday season.