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The Avenue of the Arts really took shape in the early 1990s as arts, entertainment and business groups came together to rename a section of Broad Street, the city’s main North-South artery, and promote the area as an arts corridor. Its territory includes Broad St. and one block east and west, north to Glenwood Ave. and south to Washington Ave. The Avenue of the Arts corridor had some notable existing theaters and arts-related organizations, including the historic Academy of Music building — the long-time home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pennsylvania Ballet and Opera Philadelphia until the larger Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts was completed a block south in 2001 — Philadelphia International Records headquarters, where The Sound of Philadelphia was made with Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff at the helm (see note below), the nationally renowned Freedom Theatre and even the world-famous Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, the largest operational pipe organ in the world that has been a fixture of the John Wanamaker (now Macy’s) department store since 1911.
More recent additions to the corridor’s lineup include the Wilma Theater, the Philadelphia Clef Club, a vastly expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center, various visual-arts centers offering classes and exhibit space and many restaurants and hotels.
Because of the corridor’s growth, many units of residential housing have been added in the past 10 years, notably The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton at the northern end, Symphony House, the Ellington, 777 South Broad and the Arts Tower. Keep an eye out for the still-under-construction SLS LUX Philadelphia Hotel and SLS International Residences, which at 47 stories will be the tallest residential building in Pennsylvania. This building is going up where Philadelphia International Records was located.
The selection of Avenue of the Arts residential housing is dominated by mid- and high-rise condominium buildings. Prices range from mid-market ($400s) to luxury level ($1M+) depending on the building’s amenities and proximity to the center of town. For those who want a neighborhood where they can step out the door and experience the energy of the city, the Avenue of the Arts is an ideal choice.