Philly’s Hidden Gems: Lincoln Avenue

Years ago, some friends lived in two different units located in a little courtyard, hidden off a side street in Bella Vista. They’ve long since moved out, but we never forgot how cool these spots were and how much fun we had at their courtyard parties. What we did forget, though, was exactly where these apartments were located. Until the other day that is, when we stumbled onto them again on the 700 block of S. Darien St.

700 block of Darien
So very unexpected

On the north side of the courtyard are four trinities. A couple have turned over in recent years, with old listings telling us that the homes are under 600 sqft in size. That seems to jive with our recollections of what the homes were like inside- tight. On the south side are three one-story apartments, which are about the same size as the three-story homes across the street in terms of square-footage.

Of course, we’ve wondered for years why this little block even exists and how long it’s been like this. Looking back at some historical maps of the city, the courtyard seems to date back to the time that the neighborhood was built, probably around the 1860s. In several maps, the tiny block is referred to as Lincoln Avenue, and City records still refer to it today as such.

Map in 1895

Why does Lincoln Avenue exist? What was the purpose of this tiny alley and courtyard? Surely, the folks who designed this little alleyway full of homes didn’t plan it for the purposes of throwing awesome parties. But hey, here’s to unexpected consequences.