Okay, so Philly may have a bit of a garbage problem, but let’s give credit where it’s due here: Trash or no, the place isn’t a total dump. Far from it. There are lots of spots in this sprawling city of ours that can make you forget you’re in a city at all. And then there are swaths that are downright beautiful because of their total, classic urbanity. Truth is, any Philadelphian worth her salt can offer up one or a few favorite stretches — that charming brick-paved street, that especially stunning tree-lined block, that teeny hidden, historic warren — without much hesitation.
Wait … did you just hesitate? Are you mentally debating right now between Delancey and Panama? Trying to decide whether Church or Wallace is the better street? Well, you can stop spinning those wheels — what we’ve got here is the definitive ranking of the 25 best, most beautiful Philly streets (or schtreets, if you’re really Philly), taken from dozens and dozens of crowdsourced nominations of favorites, then whittled down and ranked by our mostly unbiased experts. (OK … us.) Our only criteria was that we were only looking at streets, avenues, blocks and the occasional lane — places where people live and work and walk — as opposed to our longer, picturesque roads or drives (sorry, Kelly, Lincoln and West River, you’re lovely, too). Oh, and we stayed within city limits. City streets are in the city after all. So dive in, behold and debate our 25 most beautiful Philly streets.
25. E. Moyamensing between Christian and Carpenter
Leafy? Check. Brick pavers? Check. Tidy window boxes and close proximity to some buzzy urban action? Check, check. Sure, the name “Moyamensing” might sound like some kind of lady troubles, but the street itself is a textbook example of a charming Bella Vista/Pennsport block.
24. 2000 block of Sansom Street
This tree-lined slender stretch of Sansom (one of the few non-residential streets on the list) is the Hilary Swank of Philly streets: It’s not beautiful in a traditional sense and you sometimes forget it exists, but it really has great bones, strong character and appeals to a huge variety of people. (Note the quirky mix of the Warburton House, the old Roxy, the Circa Gallery, the Sansom Street Gym/Bathhouse, the Reading Room, Fat Jack’s, etc., etc.)
23. Church Road in Overbrook Farms
Nearly all of the streets in one of the city’s most beautiful and underrated neighborhoods are beautiful, with their hulking stone homes, well-manicured lawns, and abundance of trees, but this barely used tiny two-block road that connects City Avenue with Lancaster Avenue stands out — so quiet, and seemingly secluded.
22. 1900 block of Chadwick Street
On the loose boundary of Point Breeze and what some people call Newbold, you’ll find this charming block whose quaintness and charm seems almost willed into existence by so much container greenery — which, of course, makes it no less quaint and charming. Probably more so.
21. 200 block of Church Street
Blink, and you’ll see this teeny Old City stretch disappear into a fairly mundane chunk of Third Street, but for a block, you’re transported. Stately old Christ Church doesn’t hurt.
20. Crestmont Avenue
Majestic homes, tons of trees, suburban vibe. Lovely Crestmont Farms in the Northeast, is, according to one fan, “where all the judges live. It’s also where we used to go trick-or-treating because all the houses handed out the big, quality candy bars.” It looks it.
19. 13th Street between Tasker and Morris, notably at Christmastime
South Philly, all dressed up.
18. St. James Street at 22nd
An idyllic little English village that somehow landed smack in the middle of Center City.
17. 21st Street between Brown and Parrish
It feels ever so slightly like the West Village in NYC … just for one block. (And it sits cheek to jowl with Eastern State Penitentiary.)
16. 45th between Baltimore and Larchwood
Quintessential leafy West Philly grandiosity. *
15. South 46th, from Pine to Larchwood
Or on Larchwood around 46th. And 45th between Larchwood and Baltimore. It’s basically all Rockwellian, all up in here.
14. St. Martin’s Lane, nearly the whole stretch through Chestnut Hill, but especially 8000 through 8300
You could easily put almost all of Chestnut Hill on this list, but verdant St. Martin’s — teeming with movie-set versions of sprawling family homes — is the crown jewel.
13. 300 block of South Smedley
As quiet and hidden as a street can get in the middle of Rittenhouse. (Without being an alley, anyway.)
12. Elbow Lane
Mt. Airy lushness plus gorgeous stone manses, all nestled deep on wooded lots in a tiny, little “elbow” between West Allens Lane and St. Georges Road.
11. 1700 block of Addison
Year-round twinkle lights up the enchantment factor by 60 percent, at least.
10. 700 block of Sears and Medina
Medina St. #philly A photo posted by Kev Gallagher (@kevgalls) on
It’s South Philly’s sneakiest hidden gem. Halfway down Sears tiny Medina Street branches off (and best we can tell, this is the only block of Medina in the whole city) to create the totes-adorbs, totally photogenic Paolone Park. Think of it as a tinier, nookier version of those rare-but-wonderful Philly garden blocks like the 2300 block of Kaufman and St. Alban’s Place (a.k.a. the Sixth Sense block).
9. Rittenhouse Square Street, between 17th and 20th, along Rittenhouse
Two elegant little blocks filled with classic Philly architecture that just happen to sandwich the Square.
8. 200 Stamper Street
Stamper’s got the holy trinity of traditional Society Hill appeal — ivy, cobblestone, gaslit streetlights — plus a gorgeous internal courtyard.
7. Van Pelt, from Spruce to where it dead-ends just past Locust
Reminiscent of Elfreth’s Alley, with more trees and fewer tourists.
6. South Quince between Locust and Spruce.
One of the most popular fan favorites.
5. 4600 to 4800 blocks of Osage Avenue
A stalwart canopied stunner in West Philly. Trees, stately homes, trees, stately homes, repeat.
4. Iseminger between Cypress and Panama
Especially beautiful toward the Panama end. This is one of those labyrinthine, brick-paved, teeny streets that feels like a secret; that’s so narrow that the snow trucks won’t even blink in its general direction; that’s populated almost exclusively with old, charming row homes with shutters and doors painted in cheery colors. See also: Fawn between Latimer and Manning; Jessup and Irving.
3. 2400 block of Panama Street
Tiny twee perfection. Really tiny. U-haul, trucks and SUV drivers need not apply.
2. The Delanceys (Street and Place), between the rivers
On both ends of Center City, no other street conveys that feeling of history, beauty and money quite like Delancey.
1. The 1900 block of Waverly
An elegant, narrow and tree-lined street filled with old but well-maintained, tall, red-brick row homes, all possessing tall staircases leading up to the front doors. There’s just something quintessentially and comfortingly Philadelphia about this street, even if it’s an aspirational Philadelphia for most of us. See also: 1000 block of Clinton Street; the 1200 block of Rodman; 2200 block of Wallace Street.
Additional reporting by Victor Fiorillo, Dan McQuade, Liz Spikol and Monica Weymouth. Photography and reporting by Megan DiTrolio.
* Due to an editing error, 45th Street was previously mislabeled as the 4300 block of Baltimore, which is also quite lovely: [Back to text]