Philadelphia's Lost Waterfront
Church Street and New Residences
Turn right here, into Church Street. This street is so named because Christ Church is straight ahead. In the past few years, much residential building has been going on this street—and throughout all of Old City as well.
It's interesting to reflect that a couple hundred years ago, the riverbank along this stretch of the Delaware was about forty feet high. The historian John Watson wrote that in his youth, [quote] “thirty to forty boys and sleds could be seen running down each of the streets descending from Front street to the river."
There’s definitely no sledding on these streets nowadays, mainly because Interstate 95 cut off so many east–west streets on the water's edge. Arch Street was one of these streets, as was Vine Street. The disconnect of these streets from the riverfront of which they were such an integral part is truly regrettable.
Front Street was also brusquely separated from the Philadelphia waterfront. There was no way to avoid this since the superhighway changes from a below-grade structure to an elevated one around here.