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Historic streets restoration

A historic street is a roadway that represents another period of street paving in Philadelphia, or that provides a visual record of the city’s past. The City of Philadelphia maintains hundreds of historic streets. 

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Historic streets are street segments that have been listed as part of the Historic Street Paving Thematic District by the Philadelphia Historical Commission. The thematic district catalogs Philadelphia’s historic streets.

Historic streets are usually made of the following materials:

  • Granite
  • Belgian block
  • Brick
  • Cobblestone
  • Wood

Historic streets are important to our city’s history and infrastructure. Some of these older streets need to be repaired. In 2014, the Department of Streets published an assessment of historic street conditions. The Historic Streets Assessment Report helps the Department of Streets make decisions about historic street repairs.

Paving projects

The Department of Streets manages paving projects in Philadelphia’s Historic Street Paving Thematic District. View a list of recent and upcoming historic street paving projects.

Plumber ditch restoration

Property owners who live on the historically designated street network can get a permit to restore roadway excavations caused by plumbing repairs through their own contractors instead of through the City.

Property owners, plumbers, and masonry subcontractors must follow Department of Streets regulations for opening and restoring street openings as well as the requirements for restoration of plumber’s ditches on historically designated streets.

The steps for restoring a plumbers’ ditch on a historic street include:

Submit a plumber’s waiver form and a signed property owner’s waiver form.

The Department of Streets will review the forms and confirm the proposed location is on the historic street network. If the project meets the requirements, the Department of Streets will mail the applicant a signed form.

Mail or drop off a plumber’s waiver form and a signed property owner’s waiver form to:

Department of Streets/William Walter
1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Room 900
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Work Phone:
Get a Plumber’s Highway Opening permit.

To purchase this permit, go to the Philadelphia Water Department plumber’s desk in the Public Services Concourse of the Municipal Services Building (1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.). The charge for the historic restoration permit is $50.

Provide backfill notification.

The plumber must provide the required backfill notification on the plumber backfill website after the work is completed. The Department of Streets will restore and back charge the plumber for time and materials used if restoration is not completed within 30 days.

Streets will inspect the restoration.

The Department of Streets will inspect the restoration and send a report to the property owner and plumber.

All restoration work must be maintained in a condition satisfactory to the chief highway engineer for five years. You must respond to repair notices from the Department of Streets within 24 hours.

For more information about plumber’s ditch restoration on historic streets, call the highway district engineer’s office or William Walter at (215) 686-5509.