Although some might call part of it University City, those in the know will always call it Spruce Hill. Originally built as a streetcar suburb of the city, the neighborhood can still be easily reached by trolley from Center City. Whether you’re looking for a quiet part of the city to call home or you’re interested in moving to an area that offers a lot of activities, here’s why this section of West Philly might be the perfect spot for your next home.
The houses and apartment buildings you’ll find in West Philadelphia aren’t quite as old as some of the homes over in Old City or South Philly. Many of the homes in the Spruce Hill area were first built in the 1850s, according to the West Philadelphia Community History Center. The houses were often semi-detached, instead of the more common rowhouses found in other parts of the city. Living in a semi-detached house in Spruce Hill not only means you’ll be living in a piece of history; it also means you’ll have much more living space compared to other Philadelphia neighborhoods.
Lots of Greenery
Like much of Pennsylvania, Spruce Hill started out as a heavily wooded area. It still boasts a great number of trees, many of them large enough to provide ample shade in the heat of summer. Clark Park, the major park area in the neighborhood, is home to about 300 trees itself.
Clark Park provides a place for residents of the neighborhood to enjoy a picnic or to go for a run or walk with their pets. It’s also the home of a number of special events and festivals every year. Each July, Shakespeare in Clark Park presents a free outdoor production of a Shakespearean play in the park’s “bowl,” a concave area that was once a pond. Other regularly scheduled events in the park include summer movie nights and a farmers’ market.
Plenty to Do
In addition to the activities and events in Clark Park, there’s a great number of things to do in the area. Baltimore Avenue, which runs diagonally through the neighborhood, is the home of a number of restaurants, bars, and small shops. Every summer, the stores and restaurants on the Avenue participate in the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll. People flock to the street to enjoy samples of food, drink and trinkets from businesses, all for just a $1 each. Items available at the most recent Dollar Stroll included $1 tickets to upcoming plays presented by Curio Theatre Company, $1 pint glasses and seven-ounce servings of beer from Dock Street Brewery, and $1 banana whips from Mariposa Food Co-op.
Ease of Getting Around
Spruce Hill is also easy to get around in, whether you have a car or a bike, or you rely on public transportation. Walkscore.com describes the area as a walker’s and biker’s paradise, meaning that you can do most of your errands on foot and that there are plenty of bike lanes, plus flat terrain. Transit options in the area include the 34 trolley, which runs along Baltimore Avenue, plus the Market-Frankford elevated line, which runs along Market street east toward Center City or out west to Upper Darby.
If you’re in the market for a new home or apartment, making the move across the river might be worth it. You’ll find plenty to do in the area, and you’ll be able to head over to downtown Philly anytime you please.
Image Source: Flickr/Ezra Wolfe