One of the five original public squares in Philadelphia planned by William Penn, Rittenhouse Square was originally called Southwest Square and was later renamed after David Rittenhouse, a Philadelphia astronomer, inventor, and clockmaker. Although it is now one of the most popular public spaces in Center City, in the 18th century it served as a livestock pasture and later, brickyards surrounded the square. Not until the 1880s, when the city’s elite began moving into the area, did the park begin to take on its modern-day elegance. High-rise condos and luxury hotels have replaced many of the historic mansions that once surrounded the square. Many of Philly’s finest boutiques, hotels, and restaurants sit nearby, including Parc Restaurant Bistro & Café, a great spot for people watching and celebrity spotting.
Rittenhouse Square hosts many events from spring through fall, including: A weekly farmers' market every Tuesday from 10 am to 1 pm (May through November). The biannual Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show in the spring and fall. The next art show will be held June 6-8, 2014, when the area in and around the square displays original work by more than 140 artists. This event is the nation’s oldest outdoor original art show.