April 18, 2009 | Philadelphia is a city of great character and great contrasts: blue-blooded and blue collar; home of the beaux arts and the Broad Street Bullies; as steeped in history as it is in Tastee Cakes. In today’s Philadelphia, au courant fashion shops nestle next to dealers in exquisite art and antiques.
In April the City of Brotherly Love celebrates its long tradition as trading place for—and source of—America’s most prized antique furniture, art, and objets de vertu with the Philadelphia Antiques Show and the Original Twenty-third Street Armory Show. But Philadelphia is a collector’s paradise any month of the year.
Three main areas of the central city offer bountiful hunting grounds for the collector. First, the busy commercial blocks around Rittenhouse Square are home to several of the city’s finest art and antiques galleries. Then there is Pine Street, long known as “Antiques Row.” Though resident dealers mourn that it is not what it used to be, Pine Street is still home to some of the city’s canniest and best-informed dealers. Finally, the Old City down by Independence Hall has become a hipster’s haven with contemporary art galleries and dealers in the best of vintage twentieth-century design, plus a few notable graybeard establishments. Though a little farther out, Germantown Avenue is also well worth a trip.
Given the city’s stellar mix of museums, its architectural gems, the superb culinary scene, and the concentration of stores dedicated to the antiques connoisseur, we have to play off (and contradict) W.C. Field’s too famous quip and say: “On the whole, we’d rather be shopping in Philadelphia.”
Map of Philadelphia (click markers for info)
Map of Delaware and Eastern PA (click markers for info)