(Society Hill home for sale — $2,250,000)

As we march through our countdown of the 20 Best Cities Best for Trick-or-Treating (aka Zillow Trick-or-Treat Housing Index), the city that brought us “Rocky,” the row house, and the cheese steak comes in at #16 — Philadelphia. Since row homes are the dominant design in Philadelphia’s densely populated downtown core, trick-or-treating is a snap. The homes are situated closely together, making it very easy to ring more bells and get more candy. It’s a pretty good ROI.

Top 5 Philadelphia Neighborhoods to Trick-or-Treat in 2010

1. Center City East (Society Hill)
2. Center City West (Rittenhouse Square)
3. Wharton/Hawthorne/Bella Vista
4. Fairmount/Spring Garden
5. Manayunk


There is a common belief that wealthy neighborhoods are the Holy Grail for harvesting the most Halloween candy. However, to provide a more holistic approach to trick-or-treating, the Zillow Trick-or-Treat Housing Index was calculated using four equally weighted data variables: Zillow Home Value Index, population density, Walk Score and local crime data from Relocation Essentials. Based on those variables, the Index represents cities that will provide the most candy, with the least walking and fewest safety risks.

About Philadelphia’s Best Trick-or-Treat Neighborhoods

Center City is the heart and soul of Philly. Divided into Center City East and Center West, these neighborhoods are situated in a grid between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers as originally planned by Philly founder William Penn in 1682 (photo, right). Old enough for you? While Center City’s downtown core contains high-rises, skyscrapers and government buildings, there are desirable neighborhood pockets where hip urbanites and families coexist and where the Philadelphia Row House originated.

Center City East boasts many desirable communities (Old City, Penn’s Landing, Chinatown) and attractions (Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross’ house), but the gem is a section named Society Hill, which contains cobblestone streets and original 18th and early 19th-century brick row houses in the Federal and Georgian style. Count on lots of easy walking and quick doorbell ringing for candy treats from these row homes. Plus, there’s a creepy Ghost Tour of Philadelphia that takes you on a candlelight stroll through back streets and into the “mysterious gardens of Society Hill and Independence Park, where ghostly spirits, haunted houses and eerie graveyards lurk in the night.”  Currently, Center City East’s Zillow Home Value Index is $312,800.

Penn’s planned city park, Rittenhouse Square, is located in Center City West. Built around it is an upscale neighborhood of row homes, condos, townhouses and plenty of fashionable shops (Brooks Brothers, Tiffanys, Ralph Lauren), plus restaurants, and galleries. Families and their kids can take advantage of the merchants’ Halloween celebration on Oct. 30 as they give out candy all day (10 a.m. -5 p.m.) during the Rittenhouse Row Halloween Celebration. And if you think Center City is a tad too sophisticated and urban for little kids, Prudential Fox Roach real estate agent Tina Elmer corrects our assumptions. “There are tons of kids and families (in Center City). Last year, I sold a client’s home on 2nd St near Delancey in Society Hill. The family moved to the western suburbs but said the thing they would miss the most was how exciting Society Hill is for kids at Halloween.” Currently, Center City West’s ZHVI is $373,500.

Just south of Center City is the Wharton/Hawthorne/Bella Vista neighborhood, which contains the oldest Italian neighborhood and where the famous Italian Market is located (scenes from Rocky were filmed here). Most importantly, it’s where the Philly cheese steak was invented. Two cheese steak emporiums, Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks (reportedly the inventor of the cheese steak in the 1930s), have an open rivalry and are located within eyesight of each other. Wharton/Hawthorne/ Bella Vista’s tightly knit streets and brick row houses lend to highly efficient trick-or-treating among working-class neighbors who still enjoy bocce in the area’s pocket parks.

Not only can the Fairmount/Spring Garden neighborhood claim the Philadelphia Art Museum and the famous Rocky statue as its own, but this neighborhood is also where the notoriously creepy and reportedly haunted Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) is located (photo, right). ESP’s “Terror Behind the Walls” tour is a year-round event is geared for adults, while the Halloween Family Night is better suited for kids. Trick-or-treating in the Fairmount/Spring Garden is another easy affair since the area is predominantly filled with row homes, packed in tightly for efficient candy collection. See more Fairmount Halloween events.

Last on our list is Manayunk, a highly popular neighborhood along the Schuylkill River (pronounced “SKOO-kill”) which was designated a National Historic District in 1983. Manayunk’s small-town charm is characterized by its cute shops and sidewalk cafes along Main Street which offers lots of sidewalk strolling, window gazing and scenic views along the canal and river. Manayunk also has a preponderance of furniture stores –reportedly the largest concentration of furniture stores on one street in the entire East Coast. Manayunk is holding a Costume Trick or Treat and Face Painting in Canal View Park on Saturday, Oct. 30 from noon to 4 p.m., plus, there’s a costume parade for kids and pets at 2 p.m. Be aware that parking can be problematic since residential and business traffic for the Main Street area overlap. Currently, Manayunk’s ZHVI is $212,900, which is a 5.5% year-over-year increase.

> See more Philadelphia homes for sale

> See Philadelphia home values

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