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Like so many of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, Washington Square is rich in historical landmarks dedicated to Pennsylvania’s long heritage. One of five original squares for Philadelphia as planned by William Penn and his surveyor, Thomas Holme, its original name was Southeast Square. Just a minute’s walk from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, the park itself is included in the Independence National Historic Park boundaries. To add a bit more confusion, because Washington Square abuts both Society Hill and Washington Square West, it often is included in the boundaries for those areas.
More than 200 years ago, the Square served as a place to graze animals and a burial ground for African-Americans, Revolutionary War soldiers and victims of the city’s yellow fever epidemic. By 1815, though, beautification efforts began, though much still exists in the park to recognize the sacrifices of those who are buried there. The serene, tree-lined square, home to the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier and its eternal flame, now has some of the most desirable residential real estate in Philadelphia.
Once considered the publishing center of the city – the Curtis Publishing Company of Ladies’ Home Journal and Saturday Evening Post fame anchored the neighborhood with its headquarters at Sixth and Walnut Streets – it is now a mix of commercial office and residential high-rise and historical townhouse real estate.
Some of the most desirable condos for sale in Philadelphia are located in Washington Square West section. The more popular buildings are The Ayer (210 Washington Square West), The Lenox Building at 250 S. 15th Street and the Lippencott condos at 227 South 6th Street. The Residences at the Western Union building are among the newer condo buildings in Philadelphia and part of a growing trend to transform older art deco buildings in the city with a more modern skyline of glass towers. The White Building is also part of this revitalization found around Jefferson Hospital but residents here are treated to exposed brick walls, floor to ceiling windows and rich hardwood floors.
The streets and alleyways just south of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital are going through a residential makeover as well. Row homes along Spruce and Pine street are hot commodities. Between these two thoroughfares one will find luxury townhomes on smaller side streets such as S. Quince, Cypress Street, Waverly Street and Addison.
Many people choose Washington Square over Rittenhouse Square because it offers a more sedate atmosphere even with the nearby tourist sites contained within Independence National Historic Park. Still the neighborhood is walkable to heart of the business district as well as shops, restaurants and cultural activities such as the city’s theater district. It is also very convenient to Pennsylvania Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, making it a favorite for healthcare professionals who want to zip to work with a short walk.
Those considering Washington Square as a place to buy can choose from some of the quaintest residential streets in the city as well as such high-rise buildings as the Ayer Building, Hopkinson House and Independence Place that are directly on the Square.