The Sign of the Mermaid

By Michael Schreiber and Amy Grant

In the 18th century, South Second Street contained a large number of taverns. Some were alehouses that drew a rowdy crowd. Others were more respectable; farmers who came from the countryside to sell meat and vegetables in the New Market often used their bedchambers for overnight stays.

The Sign of the Mermaid, a tavern on Second near Stamper’s Alley, was a popular destination. The Mermaid was one of Philadelphia’s larger taverns, with three stories, an addition in the rear, and separate kitchen and stables. Despite the tavern’s popularity, the owners faced many obstacles and eventually were forced to go out of business.