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Street Name Change


What Street Am I On?

If you have ever wondered why the streets in Center City Philadelphia are named after trees (i.e. Walnut, Chestnut, etc.), you can stop wondering. William Penn had a vision for a “greene Country Towne” with broad streets and only 5-6 houses on each block with orchards and gardens in between them. The streets were in a grid-like fashion going north-south and east-west. While the north-south streets were named after numbers, William Penn named the east-west streets after trees and pieces of nature. The original idea was that each street would be lined with the trees it was named after. But, as you walk about Philadelphia today, you may have noticed that a few changes have been made:


Cedar Street to South Street

Cedar Street was renamed South Street because it was originally the southern border of the city. Today, South Street is one of the most eclectic and colorful streets in the city, hosting numerous bars, restaurants, shops of all kinds, theatres, and the annual South Street Spring Festival!


High Street to Market Street

High Street was renamed Market Street because that was where the city’s main Market was located. High Street is the common “main street” name in England, and since William Penn came to the area from London, this first name makes sense.


Mulberry Street to Arch Street

Mulberry Street was renamed Arch Street because at one time there was an arched bridge on this street which led down to the docks on the Delaware River. Arch Street is now one of the main arteries in Philadelphia, going from Old City, through the heart of Chinatown and past the Friendship Arch, bordering Reading Terminal Market and the Philadelphia Convention Center, and into the Museum District.


Sassafrass Street to Race Street

Sassafrass Street was renamed Race Street because this was the site of illegal horse races in colonial times. Today, Race Street takes you from the Race Street Pier, on the Delaware River, past Franklin Square and into Center City.

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