should there be sheffield shaming in malvern?

this photo is from Malvern Community Forum

  
Sheffield Furniture & Interiors has been a Malvern Borough mainstay for a long time. But this is not the view most of us see traveling up and down King. 

This is what residential neighborhoods behind them and across the train tracks see. Not a particularly lovely design is it ? Sort of an abomination isn’t it?  

Why can’t they paint it every few years with anti- graffiti paint? Sherwin-Williams actually makes an anti-graffiti coating that does this that can go over painted walls.

Graffiti is everywhere and I think it would be nice if Malvern Borough encouraged businesses with graffiti to clean up. And what if a mural went on that wall and was covered with that anti graffiti coating? Wouldn’t that look cool?

And the rear of Eastside Flats shows the cheapness in that project. Eastside Flats is just that: flat. Only the facade has any sort of detail. The side and rear of Eastside Flats looks like a large looming cheap shore motel.

Malvern Borough should also see if Amtrak and / or SEPTA have any beautification monies ever that could help defray the cost of graffiti removal, anti- graffiti , and even help fund murals and re-painting of these track and neighborhood facing walls. 

major amtrak crash outside philadelphia last night

 
 If you were still awake last night around 10 pm you saw the news start to come in about a horrific and now deadly Amtrak crash right past 30th street station around Wheatsheaf Lane Port Richmond (Philadelphia).

Many years ago for quite a few years I used to commute on Amtrak to NYC and when I lived on Main Line, train tracks ran through a lot of our neighborhoods. 

This crash was always a fear. Especially when we would as residents of small Main Line neighborhoods used to see freight trains on the R5 rails. Yes freight trains. Recently it has been on the news about folks in Philadelphia expressing concern and protesting about freight trains and the fear of crashing. Even in 2013 SEPTA tried for “TIGER” funds for this. 

What does this have to do with this crash which news reports now say 6 people confirmed dead and at least 140 injured?

  
Infrastructure. AMTRAK has a lot of track to maintain and  this morning 7 cars are strewn like toy trains on a child’s train table. When I lived on the Main Line in Lower Merion Township like many others including friends from Bala Cynwyd through even to Malvern Borough today, we had tracks literally in our neighborhoods. The tracks aren’t just running through city neighborhoods. For me it was across the street, for some the tracks were right beyond their back yards, sometimes only a matter of feet away. And you would see SEPTA local commuter trains, AMTRAK trains, and even freight trains. 

Seeing the freight trains was the worst in my old neighborhood because the tracks would literally groan and shake with their weight. Of course what was even more fun is when you would call to find out why freight trains were running through residential neighborhoods and they would tell you “there are no freight trains running through residential neighborhoods on the Main Line.” You would have to take a photo of the freight train in order to prove it.

  

  
There is always news around here about people wanting AMTRAK to clean up, do repairs, be better neighbors. Where I used to live still suffers during storm events – portions of the neighborhood flood horribly because of stormwater runoff.  Former Congressman Jim Gerlach used to try to help us with our AMTRAK issues, even came out personally quite a few times to see the tracks himself, but there need to be a lot more elected officials to do this all over the country.

I remember once a few years ago, government officials holdings community forum with AMTRAK and this Senior Government Affairs guy from AMTRAK NYC was part of the panel.  He wasn’t particularly used friendly to the regular folk and I wonder if his phone is ringing off the phone this morning ?

I hope the media stays on this story. There needs to be a spotlight on our aging infrastructure as far as our rail systems go. And there was a former Congressman (Pagrick Murphy) on this train along with a producer or some other kind of NBC news employee. And given the age of social media in which we live there are a lot of photos surfacing from the scene of this crash. Right now they are saying Amtrak service is suspended on the northeast corner, and I bet a lot of the SEPTA trains are canceled as well.

When I commuted to New York we experienced quite a bit on AMTRAK. One time in the summer we got caught in a marsh fire in between coming out of the tunnel in New York City before we got to Newark. 

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas there was always “jumper season”. Yes as awful as it sounds – that was the peak time of year when people would attempt suicide by train. One time they didn’t cover up the body parts fast enough. I don’t mean to sound callous but that’s what it was. It was horrible. 

And what also came to mind last night is if last night’s tragedy had occurred during the holiday season when the trains are so packed what would have happened? Quite literally then people are standing in the aisles between New York and Washington. If that had been the case last night, you would’ve been looking at a much larger body count. And I’ve never understood how AMTRAK allows that to occur anyway because it’s just not safe even without worrying about crashes.

 

Of course this derailment and accident makes me think of all the developers who want to build right on the train tracks. We have an example of that locally which is Eastside Flats in Malvern borough. In media coverage of this crash in Philadelphia, it looks like the catenary wires came down too – those are those big wires on giant poles  you see around a lot of the train stations.
  
Say prayers for the victims of this crash. And send up a huge word of thanks for the first responders who were so amazing last night. Things like this don’t happen very often, but wherever there’s a track that could happen. I hope that this means we will have a more meaningful conversation in this country about our aging infrastructure and government officials will do more than pay it lip service. And AMTRAK does have a pretty healthy budget every year, so how do they spend their money? Is it on infrastructure repairs and upgrades or salaries of middle level and upper management?

According to NBC10 71 years ago there was a horrible crash in the same location.

Here is media coverage:

NBC10:

Dead, Over 140 Hurt After Amtrak Train Derails, Rolls on Side in Philadelphia

NOTE: Those trying to contact passengers on the train should call the Amtrak Hotline at 1-800-523-9101


At least six people were killed and over 140 people hurt after an Amtrak train, carrying 238 passengers and five crew members, derailed and rolled onto its side in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia Tuesday night, according to officials.
The death toll from the crash rose to six Wednesday morning when Temple University Hospital officials confirmed one patient had died of their injuries overnight. 54 patients were treated at Temple, 25 remained hospitalized Wednesday morning including eight patients in critical condition, chief medical officer Dr. Herbert Cushing said at a briefing.
All seven cars of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 derailed and came off the tracks near Frankford Junction on the 2000 block of Wheatsheaf Lane shortly after 9 p.m., officials said. The train was heading to New York from Washington, D.C., and had six passenger cars as well as an engine.

Follow : @nbcphiladelphia on Twitter | nbcphiladelphia on Facebook

CNN:

Amtrak train derails in Philadelphia

New York Times:

Amtrak Train Derails in Philadelphia, Killing at Least 6 and Injuring Dozens

thanksgiving snow!

It’s snowing in Chester County! And it IS pretty!! Great day to bake and sew and get ready for Thanksgiving!

I will tell you I am glad the days of working in New York City are behind me because Amtrak the night before Thanksgiving becomes Cramtrak, and if you add snow it becomes a travel horror show.

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just dumb

truck 2This morning if you were on 352 at the underpass in Frazer you got to witness yet another truck driver get stuck. And it wasn’t some guy renting a box truck from U-Haul or Budget or Penske for the first time, it was a regular truck driver in a huge truck hauling a load – in other words this isn’t in my opinion to be filed under beginner’s bad luck.

Every time I see something like this happen I marvel at how these trucks and people driving them don’t seem to know how big they are by themselves and if they are carrying a big load, how tall they are in relationship to a tunnel or underpass.  And if they do know how big and tall they are they see the height sign for an underpass that would indicate to a sensible person they might get stuck, why they don’t stop and turn around?

Around 10 am this morning a giant truck hauling giant metal cube things decided height restrictions were for other people at the Route 352 underpass in Frazer.

truck 1

We were in a line of traffic waiting on the Immaculata side of the underpass and we sat and watched the truck approach.  The driver stopped at first as if giving it a good look and then he proceeded.  And got stuck.  The truck stopped.  Then remarkably it tried to go forward as if that would make it better.  Only he wasn’t hauling puffy rubber or foam that would bend, he was hauling these giant metal boxes with what looked like vents cut into them. So he got more stuck.

Finally he stopped trying to go forward and instead started to back up.  Of course it being 352 there was traffic up the rear of the truck but they started to back up and after many minutes of all of us on the road collectively holding our breath, the truck was able to get unstuck and out from underneath the underpass.

I just don’t understand how these trucks think they are going to fit if they are too tall and big going into the scenario?

Here’s hoping Amtrak checked the bridge after.  Every time there is a stuck truck or a hit they are supposed to check the bridge.

malvern train station: all that $ spent and still not ADA accessible?

malvern 3Wow.  Way to go Pete Kennedy from Malvern Patch!  Millions of tax dollars were spent on making SEPTA’s Malvern Train Station new and improved….and I thought that meant fully ADA accessible. Only, as Malvern Patch is reporting it is NOT truly  ADA accessible after all.

SEPTA seems to have provided Patch with some amazing non-answers.  I find it absolutely astounding that train stations are being reconstructed at the tune of millions and millions in tax dollars, grants, you name it and they are supposed to be new, improved, shiny, and ADA accessible…only they aren’t?

malvern1

Malvern Patch: Wheelchair Users Can’t Board Trains in Malvern, Despite Ramps/How can a person in a wheelchair get onto the train? They can’t, SEPTA said.

ByPete Kennedy Email the author 5:30 am

A Malvern Patch reader who watched the $9.2 million renovation of the Malvern SEPTA station has been wondering something.

Rob Anderson, a daily rail commuter for more than 12 years, writes:

[T]hey installed all the ADA required ramps, etc. and that is great.  But, how can a person in a wheelchair get onto the train?  Has SEPTA made any indication of how they are going to install ramps for riders to get on/off the train?

We reached out to SEPTA, and spokesperson Kristin Geiger explained that there’s currently no way for someone in a wheelchair to board the train in Malvern, despite the many new ramps. They can, however, request free transportation from Malvern to a nearby station with a high-level platform

You can read the full SEPTA response on Malvern Patch.

malvernSo how are the railroads accountable exactly?  Shouldn’t they be fined and forced to remediate? I pretty much just asked Philadelphia Inquirer reporter that question a few moments ago as he wrote a rather large article the other day about the Paoli Station makeover which is moving forward.  If all new and reinvented, rebuilt, repurposed train stations are supposed to be ADA accessible, why aren’t they? I mean ask anyone who opens a business that has public rest rooms for example.  They can’t just say “oops we’ll add handicap accessible bathrooms later” can they ? So why is it any different for public transit entities like AMTRAK and SEPTA?

According to AAPD Of the nearly 2 million people with disabilities who never leave their homes, 560,000 never leave home because of transportation difficulties

I can tell you off the top of my head in addition to Paoli, Bryn Mawr and Ardmore train stations are not ADA accessible.  So now Malvern is back on that list after a very expensive face lift that included all sorts of fancy ramps.  I was using Malvern station a great deal almost two years ago now when being treated for breast cancer. It was so difficult for me to navigate, and I kept thinking that at least at the end of the project people with temporary and permanent disabilities would be better served when the renovation was complete.

I am utterly amazed that Malvern Borough did not stay on top of this project to ensure ADA compliance, but should I be surprised?  Malvern Borough has some of the worst sidewalks I have ever seen in their downtown, so obviously ADA compliance is not a huge priority is it? Maybe it will be when someone trips on a sidewalk and sues the borough?

I figure I would bring this up now, given the money about to be spent in Paoli on a new train station. I am thrilled that this project is moving forward as in Ardmore there is nothing transit related happening with regard to THAT train station project and one can assume people will be riding Dranoff condos or apartments into Center City Philadelphia.  The Paoli project will remove that hideously dangerous and outmoded North Valley Road bridge, but Paoli Train Station has serious ADA issues now, so will the station be ADA compliant?

Part of why these train stations are getting makeovers isn’t just parking and aesthetics, the functionality is supposed to be bought current.  I guess I just don’t understand the thinking of SEPTA with regard to Malvern and wonder why they can’t just do something right the first time?

To quote the AAPD again:

Transportation and The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the landmark civil rights law that addresses the rights of people with disabilities. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public transportation services, such as city buses and public rail (subways, commuter trains, etc.). Under the ADA; all new vehicles used in public transit must be accessible; key existing rail stations and all new rail stations and facilities must be accessible; and transit operators must provide paratransit (on-demand, door-to-door) services for those who cannot use available mass transit.

 Accessibility

Twenty years after passage of the ADA, transportation choices for people with disabilities are still limited. The ADA has led to major improvements in transit systems across the United States. However, there are persistent gaps in compliance that continue to create significant barriers for people with disabilities. In addition, because the ADA only addresses public transportation, few transportation options exist for people with disabilities where no public transportation is available. In some areas, such as in rural communities, insufficient funding has left people with disabilities with little or no transportation options. In urban areas, where individuals often rely on accessible taxis, a lack of requirements has meant very uneven progress.

duffy’s cut

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2/20/2013 UPDATE:

Main Line Suburban Life > News

Burial in Ireland planned for Duffy’s Cut victim

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

By JIM CALLAHAN
jcallahan@journalregister.com

Duffy’s Cut victim John Ruddy, late of Chester County, is to be buried after services March 2 in County Donegal, Ireland.

Ruddy was one of up to 57 Irish immigrants who died of cholera and probable mob violence at an East Whiteland railroad construction site known as Duffy’s Cut.

Ruddy and the others are believed to have died nearly 181 years ago in the last two weeks of August 1832. Ruddy was 18.

His are the only remains thus far identified from an incident that was successfully hidden from the general public until recent years.

Professor William Watson of Immaculata University released details of the funeral arrangements. Services are set for 3 p.m. at Holy Family Church in Ardara, Donegal. Burial will be in the church cemetery.

PREVIOUSLY:

A week or so I happened to be passing by the Duffy’s Cut historical marker (I got a historical marker approved a few years ago and it is a lot of work to get one of them)  and stopped to photograph it.  Given the clouds of mystery and intrigue still surrounding Duffy’s Cut, I think the foggy afternoon was perfect. I also think that given the development occurring in Malvern (borough and East Whiteland) by developers who don’t truly give a rat’s fanny about the area, the history, or the current residents (they care about building and selling  projects) it is also appropriate to remember the history. You can never truly move forward into the future if you can’t honor the past, or that is just my opinion as a mere mortal and female.

I have always thought the tale of Duffy’s Cut to be a huge part of the history of Malvern. The Duffy’s Cut Project is housed at Immaculata. You can go see it.

The Smithsonian Channel has a special about it – called the Ghosts of Duffy’s Cut.

Duffy’s Cut is a big deal.  What was Duffy’s Cut?

From Immaculata’s web site:

In June, 1832, a group of 57 Irish immigrants from Donegal, Tyrone, and Derry arrived in Philadelphia. They were brought to Chester County by a fellow Irishman named Philip Duffy as laborers for the construction of the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, Pennsylvania’s pioneering railroad. Within six weeks, all were dead of cholera and possibly violence, and were buried anonymously in a ditch outside of Malvern.

Two brothers, Frank and Bill Watson have done yeoman’s work on this topic of Duffy’s Cut.  Read about them in the Wall Street Journal:

The Wall Street JournalThe Mystery of Duffy’s Cut

Historians Dig for Truth About What—or Who—Killed Early Rail Workers

April 14, 2011 By PETER LOFTUS

MALVERN, Pa.—Frank and Bill Watson recently led a group hoisting shovels and pick axes into a wooded hollow here in Philadelphia’s suburbs.

“Let’s find some bodies,” said Bill Watson, a professor of history at nearby Immaculata University.

Two children playing nearby scampered away before the men led by the Watsons—twin brothers and historians—started chipping away at a hillside hemmed in by two housing developments and busy railroad tracks.

The Watsons are on a macabre mission that began with a file of railroad company documents left behind by a grandfather and curiosity about what exactly happened at this spot—known as Duffy’s Cut—nearly 180 years ago.

This much is clear: Nearly 60 Irish laborers died here in 1832 as they built a land bridge for what became the thriving railroad that lent its name to Philadelphia’s affluent Main Line suburbs.

Their bodies were believed to be buried in a mass grave next to the railroad line, used today by Amtrak and local commuter trains. Tales of ghost sightings nearby were passed down through generations of area residents.

Cholera seemed the most likely culprit. Newspaper reports from the time reported that the disease killed several of the laborers at Duffy’s Cut. And an 1833 letter written by a superintendent of a precursor of the Pennsylvania Railroad said the contractor who hired the workers, Philip Duffy, lost “nearly one half of his men” to cholera. But early in their research, the Watsons began to suspect there might be more to the story….

In 2009, they began finding skeletal remains of at least four people. While many questions linger, the Watsons have become convinced at least three of them didn’t die of cholera.

One skull has holes with traces of lead on the edges, indicating a bullet’s entry and exit wounds, as well as a narrow slit that appeared to be delivered by an axe or hatchet. Another has a compression fracture suggesting it was caused by a blunt object. The third had dents in the skull indicating violence….

The work at Duffy’s Cut has received media attention in Ireland, and the Watsons have told the story to Irish heritage groups here. Michael Collins, the Irish ambassador to the U.S., has visited Duffy’s Cut twice.

“I was really struck by the human tragedy of all these young people dying so soon after coming here, and family back in Ireland never knowing what happened to them, or even knowing that they were dead,” he said. “Their story needs to be told.”

Unfortunately as of October 31, 2011 from what I can tell the archeological digs stopped.  It seems AMTRAK had enough.  I am not surprised.  I made a bit of a project out of them once upon a time and they are souless money grubbers who are horrible neighbors, charge ridiculous amounts for often dirty, smelly trains and piss poor service, so why would I be surprised history was also not their forte? The short answer is I am not.
I have not found anything more recent than a 2012 YouTube video put out by The University of Pennsylvania. Of course one would think our Congressman Jim Gerlach and our US Senators, State reps, State Senator Any Dinniman, and Gov. Corbett might show an interest in getting whatever that is left to be done gets done?  But until they do, I daresay the ghosts of Duffy’s Cut will wander.

Duffy’s Cut dig ends as Amtrak refuses mass grave excavation

Lynch mobs killed 1832 Irish railroad workers say historians  – VIDEOS

By JAMES  O’SHEA,IrishCentral Staff Writer

Published Monday, October 31, 2011,  7:07 AM
Updated Monday, October 31, 2011, 10:50  AM

PHOTOS – Duffy’s Cut – Irish labourers burial site in Pennsylvania slideshow

The dig for Irish remains at Duffy’ Cut in Pennsylvania has come to an end.

Frank and Bill Watson, the historians who first  located the remains of Irish railroad workers, many of whom are believed to have  been murdered in 1832, say that the mass grave they have been seeking is  unreachable

It has been located 30 feet underground but too near  to an existing Amtrak track to unearth it. It is said to hold the remains of up  to 57 Irish emigrants from Donegal, Derry and Tyrone.

The Watsons, believe most of the Irish were likely  victims of lynch mobs  driven by anti-Irish sentiment which was widespread  at the time.

The discovery of the mass grave came when  geophysicist Tim Bechtel used updated equipment   electrical imaging  and seismic surveys, to discover the mass grave 30 feet below the surface.

It’s also on Amtrak property. They will not permit  any digging because of its proximity to the tracks, spokeswoman Danelle Hunter  told Associated Press.…The mass remains are of Irish immigrants, mostly  from Donegal, who were building the railroad near Philadelphia when they all  mysteriously died….

Frank and Bill Watson with the help of volunteers  and archaeologists proved via DNA and testing that most of the Irish had   been murdered and did not die of cholera.

“Since the beginning, we have seen it as our job to  get their story out of folklore and into actual history, and we hope we have  done that,” Bill Watson told Associated Press.

A local monument stated the men had died of “black  diptheria” in 1834 but it is known they died two years earlier.

Soon after they started digging they found the  remains of six people and a nearby shantytown.

University of Pennsylvania anthropologist Janet  Monge found proof of savage violence done to the remains including a bullet  wound to the head of one of them.

Many locals had been sceptical that anything would  be found. East Whiteland Township Manager Terry Woodman told AP.

“Some people thought that this was lore, a story  that through the telling had been exaggerated,” Woodman said. “There was a lot  of skepticism.”

The rest who were killed were ordered buried in a  mass grave and their shantytown burned to the ground.

One victim was identified victim as 18-year-old John  Ruddy, based on his bone size and the passenger list of a ship that came   from Ireland to Philadelphia shortly  before the men died.

The brothers plan to bury  the remains  found  in a suburban Philadelphia cemetery around St. Patrick’s Day, March  17.

Dennis Downey, a history professor at Millersville  University, said the work done has been invaluable.

So Malvern, as you look at the developer tarting up one end of the town to sell his project, remember what happened in the East Whiteland side of Malvern. Here’s hoping some day the dead there can all rest.  They certainly didn’t get what they deserved coming to America looking for honest work.