NO. This is WRONG. Hassling a small business over their policies is wrong. It’s not OUR business it’s THEIR business and when we enter THEIR business we are a GUEST.
If we don’t like their policies, and that includes businesses which never required masks or encouraged people to take them off, we don’t patronize them we quietly go elsewhere but we don’t try to ruin them because they feel masks are still prudent.
People like to talk a good game about supporting small town America and her businesses, so trying to DESTROY a business over their mask policy which is within their rights is wrong.
I am not a rock climber, so I don’t patronize Downingtown Rock Gym personally, but I respect their right to try to do what is best for their business, their employees, and their patrons. If you are a climber and a rational human being, I encourage you to support their business.
Our forefathers granted us freedoms and fought and bled and died for them so we had the freedom of choice among other things. And freedom of choice does not mean destroying a business because you disagree with their masking policy, it means just going someplace else.
And I have been told this person has family members with businesses in Downingtown and is that correct? How would this person feel if people started posting about those businesses in this manner? It would be wrong too, so not encouraging that AT ALL, but asking HOW it would make them feel?
COVID19 has been long enough and terrible enough for all of us, no matter what you feel about masking and shots, and some of the people who have felt this the hardest are small business owners.
We need to respect small business owners and what they choose to do with masks versus no masks until COVID19 is but a nasty memory.
Business shaming over mask requirements is wrong. Plain and simple.
So if it is not making a scene at school board meetings over masks, shots, book lists and whatever else, these people are also all about hassling local businesses? Really?
I thought I had run out of Welcome to Crazier Town posts, but no, no apparently not.
A slightly related aside before I dive in.
Historically, the Republican party was about supporting, not destroying business. But enter the age of Trumpublicanism. All of a sudden, January 6th, 2021 as per the G.O.P. otherwise known as the attack on the US Capitol, which left people dead and injured as well as terrified, was “legitimate political discourse.”
Take Trumpublican politics to the new heights of groups defending “freedom” and “patriotism” where THEIR rights supersede everyone else’s. They have inalienable rights, ours do not matter. It’s their constitution, not anyone else’s.
You go against them and you are vile and horrible. Everyone who disagrees with them are terrible people. Just ask me I get comments ALL of the time. And yes, these are the people that made me decide once again that leaving the Republican party after being a Republican since I was old enough to vote was the right decision. I am not overly liberal. I would be what you call fiscally conservative and socially liberal. I am in truth, a moderate. Of course, that doesn’t matter in this post, it’s just part of my thought process.
So enter groups like Stepford Wives for Totalitarianism (and their man-servants.) They are the avenging angels (in their little minds) of truth, justice, and the American way. They are the avenging whatever the hell they think they are of saving us all from whatever their pea brains think up that week. Except they aren’t saving any of us, they are just trying to control how everyone else thinks. They are bullies. When we were in middle school they were taking over lunch tables and calling you out for fights behind the gym. It appears they haven’t evolved much. Hence, why they are the future handmaids of the totalitarianism point of view.
noun — a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state.”democratic countries were fighting against totalitarianism”
What is another term for totalitarianism?
(also tsarism or tzarism), despotism, dictatorship, totalism, tyranny.
Synonyms for totalitarianism
absolutism, autarchy, authoritarianism, autocracy, Caesarism, czarism (also tsarism or tzarism), despotism, dictatorship, totalism, tyranny Words Related to totalitarianism
monarchism, monarchy, monocracy Big Brother, Big Brotherism, Communism, fascism, Nazism domination, oppression
So yea. That. Wearing his Trump shirt proudly (which is his right), this guy goes and hassles a small business employee over their masking policies (which is not his right.) The Downingtown Rock Gym. With his little kids in tow. Yes the video is grainy. Took it off of social media.
But this is wrong. Small businesses have had it hard enough since BEFORE COVID-19 hit, and this is this guy’s town and this is how he supports local businesses? By harassing employees doing their jobs?
So what if say, people went to another local Downingtown business like Creekside Antiques Downingtownon the Brandywine and did a similar thing? What if they went in and said they were horrible people that didn’t care about their community because no one has to wear masks? Do you think that would be right?I don’t.
Why am I choosing this other store (which I love, by the way)? Because that is a store that I know does NOT require masks to enter, so again what if someone was upset by that and went in and harassed their front desk and took a video and posted it? After all they went through getting reopened after Hurricane Ida wouldn’t you think that was awful? I would.Just like I think it was awful for that guy to do that to the front desk guy at Downingtown Rock Gym.
Look if you don’t like the business policy on masking or anything else, you DO NOT, I repeat, you DO NOT have to go inside. But right now whether it is WEAR a mask or DON’T WEAR a mask, that is up to the business, it is not up to the rest of us. They are doing what they feel is best for their customers, employees, and business.
That grainy video is a HORRIBLE example of how to treat ANY small business during this time. First we all had lockdown, and all of these small businesses had to close for a while. Then they had to get creative opening up and adjusting like the rest of us to the new normal. And they had to try to pay their rent, mortgage, employees, and survive. Now we are in the in between where some things are masks required (hospitals, medical offices as two examples), some things will be masks for a little while longer (schools), and then there are small businesses who have to do what THEY feel is best for their business, employees, customers.
DO NOT TARGET a small business because you don’t want to wear a mask. CHOOSE another business you are more comfortable with.
Personally, I know how hard the pandemic has been on businesses like this rock gym, so I APPLAUD them for the courage of their convictions. It is EASY to do NOTHING, it takes COURAGE to act in what you feel is the best direction for your employees, your customers, your business.
I am also appalled that a grown man took his small children to watch him essentially yell at this poor employee of the Downingtown Rock Gym. To each their own on parenting, but I also kind of think that was mean to the kids.
We can’t even say Hate Has No Home Right now because I feel (right or wrong) that this world is so crazy, we can’t say it. That makes me sad.
For the love of anything you believe that is holy, people, just stop this crap. Respect the decisions of these small businesses. If you don’t agree with them, go someplace more to your comfort level. But if they want us to wear a mask for a little while longer, so what? Masks aren’t forever, even if they are for now.
This is dangerous, crumbling, and could become an adaptive reuse and at a minimum have public access removed until such time they decide.
It kind of makes you wonder why the media isn’t covering this doesn’t it?
Having lived in communities that have “orphaned“ railroad bridges, railroad tunnels, railroad trestles I know there is a process. Which is probably why although everyone has heard talk of making this part of a bike trail and made safe nothing has happened. Norfolk Southern has to sign off on it, possibly deed it to the county, state, or whomever.
However getting anything to happen can take years. And a life was almost lost the other day which is why the petition started. We don’t have more years to waste on this.
Everyone is afraid to talk about this location because they’re afraid more people will be drawn to it who have thoughts of suicide. But I think we have to draw attention to it because if we don’t nothing will happen and no change will occur.
As I said to someone today the issue of this bridge draws attention to the fact that Chester County is about to be in a true mental health crisis if it isn’t already with Brandywine Hospital being closed by Tower Health January 31. It was the only mental health facility outside of Philadelphia. I really don’t understand what Tower Health has done with all their money number one, and number two they got a lot of cares act money how did they spend it? Why couldn’t the state help Chester County keep at least Brandywine Hospital open?
The other thing about drawing attention to this dangerous and crumbling trestle bridge is it IS dangerous and Norfolk Southern is culpable. It IS a suicide bridge and not talking about it won’t make it better or go away. It simply means that more families will suffer the tragedy of suicide from this location and do we wish that on any human being? I certainly do not.
So let’s make this bridge a big public issue. The more we can talk about it the more it helps our elected officials draw attention to it and the need to solve a problem here immediately not a few years from now if at all.
I am asking my readers if you have photos of this bridge especially with people up on it please send them to me. We need to make this public. I am also asking for all of you to take the time to not only contact your elected officials but contact Norfolk Southern and CC your elected officials and even media contacts if you have them.
You can also contact Norfolk Southern through their social media page on Facebook and they also have Twitter of not more.
They could pay to make the safe, they could pay to secure it until the plan is agreed-upon for a trail or whatever, basically they have the money to make this right. So it all should not come out of the taxpayer monies of Chester County residents.
We can’t afford to monkey around with this, even if we don’t live in Downingtown. and no matter what our political persuasion addressing this issue is something that is just a good thing to do, it’s for the community, it will help families, we can come together shortly and put our differences aside over this I would hope. It’s very core at a minimum it’s a public health, safety and welfare issue.
So Norfolk Southern, come on now, we know you know, it’s time to act. Stop the jumping off #suicidebridge starting with securing the location to keep people off, followed by making this something #SAFE and more #POSITIVE .
Stay warm today readers and thanks for stopping by.
It’s dangerous. Crap falls off it like a Philadelphia highway bridge, and it is a suicide place. Life is precious. We need more mental health resources, which is why Brandywine Hospital closing in 10 days is so devastating for our county. But this bridge? Norfolk Southern needs to step up and help be part of a solution.
Why this post? Something that stopped me in my proverbial tracks today on NextDoor:
On May 24, 2021, we lost another young member of our community to suicide. This abandoned bridge presents a dangerous opportunity for our children in crisis. Ever since I moved to West Bradford township, I’ve driven under the Trestle Bridge and think about my own kids going up there to explore when they get older. There have now been two suicides and several attempts that I know of. Locals tell me there are many more that weren’t reported in the media.
This bridge is DANGEROUS. My husband grew up in West Bradford and tells me stories of kids (including himself) going up there all the time. I’ve spoken with local teens who have confirmed that it is still a place they visit, and they regularly document it on social media.
We cannot sit by and allow this bridge to decay any further. The netting underneath has collected a large amount of debris and heavy rocks. I’m afraid someone driving underneath the bridge after a heavy rainstorm will be its next victim.
Trestle Bridge either needs to be removed entirely or updated and used as a routinely monitored space in our community. One option that has been discussed in the past is a bike trail. Adding a bike path with high rails and security cameras will make Trestle Bridge a safer place.
While we can’t always prevent how a person ends their life, the community of Downingtown does not want history to continually repeat itself. It’s been trending on Google how to access the bridge due the the most recent tragedy. Trestle Bridge can no longer be a tempting and dangerous place for our children…….
JAN 21, 2022 —
Dear Community Members,
I’ve spoken with two local officials now and they have assured me that acquiring the bridge and creating a bike trail is the plan. I am not going to give up on this until we get something in writing. Norfolk Southern owns the bridge and ultimately needs to sign off. If you have a personal experience that documents the danger of Trestle Bridge, please email me your story at
Keep sharing the petition please. Our community has spoken and we are being heard!
May 24, 2021. I wrote about that tragic teen suicide. And it is not the only one from that location. There have been too many. There should not be access to this thing except for when railroad personnel need to get up there. And again, not active, but Norfolk Southern has responsibility for it. Is it technically orphaned when you know who owns it? When it comes to railroad bridges and trestle that seems to be a constant query.
If they made this part of a trail with proper safety precautions, that would be terrific. But at a minimum, Norfolk Southern needs to cut public access off. They can at least do that. Their executives make buckets of money. The company is profitable even when they whine.
Railroads in general climb on my nerves. They make money, we need them. But needing them doesn’t mean we should put up with all of their orphaned and obsolete trestles, bridges, buildings and whatever other UNSAFE structures exist as ghostly reminders of their past and history from coast to coast.
I commend Caitlin whom I do not know, for trying to do something positive and proactive. So now let’s try to see what can happen. Sign the petition, contact Norfolk Southern and also contact elected officials additionally for better mental health resources and even school boards for better services for kids.
Jackass season has returned to Chester County. I thought today’s jackass award was going to go to an award winning anti masker champion from the West Chester area of QAnon school board candidates in West Chester when she surfaced in NextDoor complaining about the misuse of taxpayer dollars on COVID testing and talking about all the Delco COVID testing sites and none in Chester County. (Umm yeah, doesn’t like masks but whines about tests?)
But no, another jackass far surpassed her. Right outta Downingtown we have a real Mensa candidate:
I am sure they will be crushed that they are blocked. We’ll call him “Brandon”. And “Brandon” quite simply put: I don’t subscribe to your brand of bullsheit. Mar A Lago is looking for chamber maids and bus boys, so why not move? And if I am such a deplorable surely you have a good comic book you can dig into? No one makes you read this blog.
Today’s super fan is of that ilk still posting offensive sheit including the OTHERS you see keeping up their January 6th, 2020 posts like a badge of honor (or dishonor?) Tomorrow is that somber anniversary. What happened a year ago tomorrow was terrifying, and some days it is like we are in the midst of another Civil War in this country that doesn’t have specific borders like North vs. South. It’s like an insidious disease more deadly that the COVID-19 virus.
Today social media groups on the Main Line are all abuzz about a particular development plan. It is proposed for Bryn Mawr. I think it’s awful.
It is the same developer apparently as the “Berwyn Square” that Eastown just said no to. Which was truly remarkable because Eastown never says no to anything.
I didn’t just connect the dots to all these development plans, Savvy Main Line did it for us (CLICK HERE FOR SAVVY)
Too. Damn. Much. Development.
The Bryn Mawr plan is shocking. Having grown up on the Main Line, and especially because where I went to high school was Shipley which is in Bryn Mawr, I spent a lot of years in Bryn Mawr. And I can tell you a great deal of the wonderful “village” feel disappeared when Bryn Mawr Hospital supersized. But a plan like this? I think it would kill what is left of the small town Main Street kind of vibe.
Obviously I no longer live in Lower Merion so even though I sent the commissioner for the ward that contains Bryn Mawr an email, I know my opinion doesn’t matter, I just gave it anyway. I figure he owes it to me to listen since way back when he wanted to become a commissioner in the first place a group I was part of helped him get elected.
The other reality of this plan and if you look at the last screenshot in this post it shows a rendering of sorts, and it also totally doesn’t show you what that Lancaster Ave (Route 30) intersection in Bryn Mawr is really like. It is an extraordinarily busy and accident prone intersection. It’s where Morris Avenue ends and Bryn Mawr Ave. begins. It’s where Ludington library is, the main and original branch of Bryn Mawr Trust Company is there. It’s where the train station is and a block or so from where the hospital begins.
The above photo was taken in 2007. One of the many accidents at this intersection. This particular accident I believe resulted in the fatality of the driver in the car in front of the bus. I also had another friend who was hit pushing her babies across the street in a stroller on a pedestrian walk signal at this corner. At that time, there was an NBC10 report on that accident.
No one is going to say that the building currently on the corner where they are proposing to put this apartment development is attractive. It’s never been attractive. But every development that is proposed is overly dense no matter where you live and whichever township or county you call home.
The above photo is a development in progress in Downingtown. Another massive development. And none of these developments are particularly distinguishable from each other. Which is why I find great humor in the “brynmawr square“ and “Berwyn Square” development proposals
Above you see the development often discussed in East Whiteland. I don’t understand how the people who are paid to do the planning for these townships as well as elected officials have no vision.
At the end of the day this is why we desperately need to update the Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This amount of development is not sustainable. And I will never believe the emperor’s new clothes fairytale that it is.
It’s very sad that it has come to this, but pick the township, town, and county and there’s always a bad development plan or several bad development plans. We are the ones that live in these communities and it’s time for elected officials to start listening to us.
File under things that drive me crazy. Not everything some developer’s marketing team labels as “Main Line” today is actually the Main Line…nor does it have to be.
One of my favorite quotes about this appeared on Facebook recently:
Die hards stick to the Original Main Line. Realtors and blow in’s want everything within 40 miles called the Main Line.
The Main Line refers to the towns between Overbrook and Paoli as per the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Malvern and Frazer are Chester County (for example) and should be delighted to be that. Realtors peddling new development are baptizing Malvern as Main Line the way they have already done with Chester Springs where they call what is actually Downingtown Chester Springs because they don’t think anyone would like living in Downingtown. Or saying Newtown Square is the Main Line also isn’t technically true. Newtown Square is Newtown Square and lovely in it’s own right.
Sad but true. Some even try to say Exton, Blue Bell, and Chester Springs are also the Main Line. Now hell, we know Chester Springs proper isn’t the Main Line every time when the nouveau Main Line heads west for Chester County Day and Chester Springs homes are on the tour (like last year) and folks don’t know how to drive (or park) on our roads or how to be polite in the houses…but I digress…
People. Learn your railroad history. It is how these towns were built.
The Philadelphia Main Line, known simply as the Main Line, is an informally delineated historical and socially pretentious and ridiculous region of suburban Philadelphia, as freaking created by old railroad lines. These towns became more cohesive along the Pennsylvania Railroad’s once prestigious “Main Line”, which ran northwest from Center City Philadelphia parallel to Route 30 (Lancaster Ave to some Lancaster Pike to some Lincoln Highway to others.)
The railroad first connected Philadelphia to the Main Line towns in the 19th century.
They became home to sprawling country estates and hotels belonging to Philadelphia’s wealthiest families, and over the decades became a bastion of “old money”. People built their summer homes out here at that point. In the 18th century wealthy Philadelphians summered in places like Fairmount Park. In the 19th century the railroads moved them further west.
After the Civil War, Bryn Mawr was a popular spot for Philadelphians to come to escape the summer heat. Of the many hotels and boarding houses in Bryn Mawr, the one that aided most in its development was the Bryn Mawr Hotel or Keystone Hotel, as it was also known, built in 1871. This grand summer resort was constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, and was located in the countryside just north of the station. The four-story masonry building was designed by Joseph Miller Wilson. The hotel had 350 rooms, a fashionable polychromatic slate mansard roof, and an enormous veranda. The hotel’s amenities included: gas lights, bath tubs, the first elevator on the main line, a “ten-pin alley”, first quality mattresses and one bathroom on every floor. This splendor was destroyed by a disastrous fire which broke out in October 11, 1887 at 6:30 a.m. Most of the building was destroyed by the time Philadelphia fire engines arrived by railroad gondola car.
A second Bryn Mawr Hotel was built on the site in 1890 by a neighborhood syndicate. This new, four-story, granite structure was designed by acclaimed architect Frank Furness, of Furness, Evans & Co. The Hotel was inspired by the Chateau de Pierrefonds, a 16th century French chateau, and contained the latest technologies, including steam heat and electric light. From 1896 to 1913 the hotel hosted its own annual horse show that drew high society Philadelphians. The new Furness designed building cost the promoters half a million dollars. Half of this amount was obtained by sale of stock and half through the sales of bonds. The stock never paid a cent of dividend, and when the bonds finally came due, the group could not pay the interest. The mortgage was foreclosed and with this, the hotel stopped operations. Later the building was bought by the Baldwin School for Girls.
The Main Line has this fabled history. I lived there until a few years ago. My parents moved us there when I was about 12. So yeah, I know the history. In some regards I think I lived there in the sunset of it’s greatness. The Main Line as it exists today I find distasteful and gauche sometimes because well, the nouveau Main Line neither gets nor appreciates nor really cares about the actual history.
Until the railroads, the Main Line was a lot of country. Farms, quarries, mills, even factories. It became genteel versus rural/copuntry living by it’s very history. The Pennsylvania Railroad and 19th century real estate developers and speculators truthfully get the credit here.
….So it was with Devon Inn, a brief history of which was given in the series on large fires which have occurred in this vicinity in past years. In the early morning hours of January 18, 1929, this famous Main Line hostelry burned to the ground. The pictures illustrating today’s column show two views of the Inn as it appeared in its heyday. They were sent to your columnist by James L. Kercher, of Conestoga road, soon after the story of the fire appeared in “Your Town and My Town” in the spring of 1952. The reverse side of this picture postcard of the Devon Inn describes it as the “social center or the Main Line,” located in “beautiful Chester Valley” and “open from May to December.”
….Among its attractions they list the Devon Horse Show, polo matches, kennel show, Rose Tree Horse Show, Belmont trotting event, Chesterbrook races, Bryn Mawr Horse Show and Devon fancy cattle show. And these are not all, for the list continues with the Horse Show Ball, Spring flower show, golf and tennis, private theatricals, Bal Masque, Autumn flower show, auto exhibition, the County Ball and Devon Inn’s beautiful Japanese Floral Cafe. This cafe was evidently located on one of the Inn’s wide porches…The history of this old inn is an interesting one. The original structure, called the Devon Park Hotel, had been built in 1876 to house the overflow of visitors to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Three years later, fire destroyed the first building, but it was replaced soon after by a larger and more ornate structure, erected on the same site. This is the one shown in today’s picture.
For some years there was great rivalry between the Devon Inn and the Bryn Mawr Hotel for the patronage of fashionable Philadelphia summer boarders. Located on the site of what is now the Baldwin School, the Bryn Mawr Hotel was owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad. This rivalry ended in a complete victory for the Devon Inn, when the Devon Horse Show made its initial bow. The show immediately became a nationally famous event, with entries and visitors from all over the United States. The socially elite from New York and the Long Island Colony, from Boston, Chicago and many other cities throughout the country filled the Devon hostelry to capacity each horse show season.
When the Bryn Mawr Hotel burned to the ground, the Devon Inn lost its only serious rival….
When this topic of what the Main Line actually is and what the actual historical boundaries are crops up on social media, someone always leaves a conversation feeling offended.
Sorry not sorry but Malvern isn’t and never will be the Main Line. As I have said before, it’s Chester County and everyone in the Malvern area should be ok with it as Malvern already has a wonderful identity and history.
In 1828, the Pennsylvania legislature authorized the construction of the railroad between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. This was known as the “Main Line” of the Public Works system. This, in turn, caused the development of the surrounding area.
After the Civil War, track improvements were sought and new station houses were erected to include more stops along the line. In recognition of the heritage of the areas along the rail line, many stations were given English and Welsh names, such as Narberth, Ardmore and Bryn Mawr.
Many changes were made to the rail route and so the Commonwealth purchased lots surrounding the rail line with stipulations on setbacks and improvements to the land next to the station houses. In Bryn Mawr, it stated that the building of “hotels, taverns, drinking saloons, blacksmiths, carpenter or wheelwright shops, steam mills, tanneries, slaughterhouses, skindressing establishments, livery stables, glue, candle or starch manufactories, or other buildings of offensive occupation” was prohibited.
The result was “a complete picture of suburban comfort and elegance with wide avenues and roomy and open ornamental grounds, spacious lots for building and homes of more than ordinary architectural tastes.” These new homes served as the summer residences for many affluent families. The Main Line was now established.
The Pennsylvania Railroad promoted this area in brochures describing the “opportunities provided by the railroad for ‘summer sojourns’ away from the city and the desirability and convenience of suburban living.”
When we were growing up there was this little thing we did to remember the order of the train stations. Old Maids Never Wed And Have Babies. Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr. You can find this mentioned here on this blog which I find amusing because they say they think the ditty ends with Bryn Mawr Station because it was thought of possibly by a Bryn Mawr College girl. This blog is called Philadelphia Reflections and I love it because they write about the most interesting stuff!
One of my dear friend’s grandfathers was an executive with the Pennsylvania Railroad. He moved his family from the city to Haverford near Merion Cricket Club. The road they settled on had several homes built as a direct result of the railroad. Like many of the homes in Wayne, it was desirable because one could walk to the train station.
Growing up, we never thought the Main Line was one centimeter past Paoli…because we knew the history. Today it’s like saying you are from Greenwich, Connecticut or similarly affluent and storied suburbs. Or even what defines Manhattan, versus living in the other boroughs of New York City but saying you live in Manhattan.
The mansion stood at the end of a half-mile long drive, in the midst of 750 acres. The estate was magnificent, to say the least. It had been erected in 1911, in the style of the Georgian Revival, and was crafted by the prolific architect Horace Trumbauer – designer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Duke University Chapel, and the main Harvard University Library, to name just a few. The façade of the manor was classic “old money” – adorned with brick, accented with ornate cream molding, and finished with large traditional sash windows….Too good to be true? A fairytale perhaps? Surely, a scene from a movie? Well, yes… and no. Because not even MGM, the esteemed motion picture conglomerate, would believe it. The mansion, Villanova’s Ardrossan estate, was the inspiration for 1940s The Philadelphia Story, and has since been dubbed by the Philadelphia Inquirer a “house so grand, even Tinseltown had to tone it down.” The house in question, however, is very much real, as is the lifestyle that comes with it.
But Ardrossan is only one small portion of the prestigious and affluent area known as the Main Line. Situated just west of Philadelphia, it is comprised of the seventeen different towns in Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester counties – each of which is connected by the railroad, and the area’s namesake, the Main Line…..These estates and their residents have come to define the Main Line. But what does that mean? With the birth of the Main Line in the late 1800s, there also came “an extreme type of class-consciousness. The flood of wealth that created American family fortunes in the late 19th century settled around a handful of cities and was expressed in different forms of conspicuous consumption and elaborate social behaviour,” writes Ian Irvine in the Sunday Telegraph. Irvine compares Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Philadelphia’s Main Line to call attention to the grandeur associated with the area; but that’s where the similarities end. “In more traditional… Philadelphia, however, society turned almost feudal, almost English in its attitudes – ‘old’ money and ‘old’ families counted for everything. The very term WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) was coined to describe members of Philadelphia society,” a term popularized by University of Pennsylvania professor E. Digby Baltzell. And an appropriate term it was….Nowadays not every Main Liner may live like a Scott, but the expectation to act like one endures. As Betty Feeney and Julia Lorenz Gaskill noted in 1955: “the Main Line is a way of life which both its natives and newcomers tend to view as the best this side of Paradise.”
The lure of the Main Line as well as the lore of the Main Line. I still find it crazy. And I for all intents and purposes grew up there. It’s only the Magic Kingdom if you can really afford it and I often wonder how many can actually afford it versus the great pretenders? I lived there for so long because it was where I called home from the age of 12 into my 40s. And yes, I always knew I would probably eventually leave not for anything else than it keeps getting more expensive and if you are realistic you have to ask is the Main Line really worth it?
A Ride on The Main Line. The War of 1812 had ended and the country was expanding by extending its borders westward. New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia were the major seaports which stood to benefit the most in trade to the west. The road system could not handle the increased traffic so we entered into the age of canals, which offered faster service and were cheaper to operate.
New York built the Erie Canal which joined the Hudson River with Lake Erie, thus providing a through waterway from New York City to the Great Lakes. The Erie Canal opened in 1825.
Maryland, replacing their National Road, began the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal which connected Baltimore with the Ohio River.
As a counter measure, Pennsylvania decided that it wanted to develop its own canal system linking Philadelphia to the frontier city of Pittsburgh and authorized its construction. But when the survey was made, it was found that there was not enough water in the right places for a canal between the Delaware and the Susquehanna Rivers.
In March 1823, the Pennsylvania State Legislature issued a charter for the first railroad in the state. It authorized the construction of an 82 mile railway, from Philadelphia through Lancaster, terminating at Columbia (on the Susquehanna River), as part of the “Main Line of Public Works of the State of Pennsylvania.” The nickname, “The Main Line,” derived from this early Pennsylvania railroad…A Government Venture. The Philadelphia & Columbia Railway was one of the earliest railroads in America and the first in the world to be built by a government rather than by private enterprise. The contracts for the work were granted by the Canal Commission, under whose supervision the line was operated. Considered a public toll road, individuals and companies paid tolls to the Commission for use of the rails. They also supplied their own horses, rolling stock and passenger or freight facilities.
The Philadelphia & Columbia Railway finally became operational on September 1832, with carts and wagons dragged by horse power on a 20-mile section which began in Philadelphia (at Broad and Vine Streets) and ended at Green Tree Inn, west of Paoli….More than any other person or entity, it was the Pennsylvania Railroad that built the Main Line. For 111 years, its trains linked Lower Merion with Philadelphia and the nation. Even today, three decades after the railroad merged with a rival, the Pennsylvania’s legacy continues to shape life in the township.
The Pennsylvania Railroad began its long association with the Main Line when it purchased the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad from the state in 1857. At that time, there were only three stops in Lower Merion: Libertyville (serving modern Narberth and Wynnewood), Athensville (now Ardmore) and White Hall (Bryn Mawr). For a little over a decade, the Pennsylvania concentrated on rebuilding the line and developing long distance traffic. As late as 1869, the railroad operated only a handful of local trains along the Main Line.
So…look at the dates referenced by The Lower Merion Historical Society. 1832. Duffy’s Cut anyone? (Duffy’s Cut is the name given to a stretch of railroad tracks about 30 miles west of Philadelphia, United States, originally built for the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad in the summer and fall of 1832. The line later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Main Line. Railroad contractor Philip Duffy hired 57 Irish immigrants to lay this line through the area’s densely wooded hills and ravines. The workers came to Philadelphia from the Ulster counties of Donegal, Tyrone and Derry to work in Pennsylvania’s nascent railroad industry. They were murdered.)
And just so we are clear, I am not some old Main Line trust fund baby. We lived there because my parents decided to move us there as we got older for access to better schools and a way of life that included being able to play outside whenever we wanted. However, where I grew up was close to where one of my great-grandmothers was in service. Rebecca Nesbitt Gallen. She was a summer housekeeper for the Cassatt family (think Merion Cricket Club) at their Cheswold Estate. Of course Alexander Cassatt was also famous for his Chesterbrook Farm in Berwyn. We of course know Chesterbrook today as the giant development that popped the cherry of suburban density development. It’s hard to believe that Chesterbrook today was once a glorious 600+ acre farm, right?
Photo source: Pinterest
And yes, Chesterbrook Farm was in Berwyn…yet Chesterbrook the development today has a Wayne post office zip code. Yup even Chesterbrook wasn’t o.k. where it really was, was it?
The more things change, the more they stay the same. That could apply directly to two very dissimilar areas of Radnor today. But each was a result of technology creating a need and ambitious men filling it. Although they don’t look the same at all, each was its century’s response to changes caused by technology.
In the late 19th century, the railroad had opened up the western suburbs for white-collar workers who wanted to escape the filth and disease of the city. It’s almost impossible today to imaging just how dangerous it was living in a large city and that didn’t even include crime.
Infant mortality was rife, and often mothers died in childbirth or from infections afterwards. Influenza today dreaded mostly for its discomfort killed tens of thousands each year. Men died young, maimed and broken in brutal factories. Everything was dirty, both from the coal smoke that permeated every space and from the animals which were ubiquitous.
But the trains made it possible for people to live and work in different places. After the railroad barons moved themselves along the Main Line, building monstrous estates, it was time for the middle class. The first development in Radnor designed to bring folks from the city was a 300-acre estate belonging to J. Henry Askins. Called Louella Farms, it was named after his two daughters, Louise and Ella.
In 1869 he began building houses some of which remain on Bloomingdale Ave. in Wayne clearly designed for middle-class families. But he was really too early, although he did create a community of sorts. The farm lay alongside the Main Line tracks. His mansion, also called Louella is now the Louella Apartments.
This was the center for further development in what would become Wayne. Askins liked the feudal nature of his “community” and encouraged development of other facilities south of Louella and the train tracks. This resulted in the Presbyterian Church, the Opera House and the Post Office, all built between 1870 and 1874….
A century later, transportation technology did it all over again. In the mid-1960s the state announced that it was turning Rt. 202, a two-lane highway running south from King of Prussia into a limited access four-lane highway. Radnor officials knew that meant urban sprawl was coming to Philadelphia’s far suburbs….The Fox Companies didn’t build everything, but they developed and controlled it. “The scale was large enough for two or more companies for construction and retailing,” he says. “Part of what we wanted to do was create a community with a physical and social sense, and landscaping is very important for that…..The original idea was to have a mix of housings. “We wanted teachers and cops to be able to afford to live here, for instance,” he says. “Unfortunately the economic realities of what happened to housing prices in the 1970s defeated that.” There are still different styles and price ranges grouped together, so that the 2700 units seems more to be clumps of housing.
As part of a plan to help control the tide of growth Radnor created a unified development area on a 1000-acre plot alongside the highway. This meant that the rules as to density of population and other zoning and regulatory issues would be worked to encourage controlled development. The Fox Companies, headed by Dick Fox, bought up most of the land and although there were several parcels of land, by far the largest was Alexander Cassatt’s “country place,”Chesterbrook. Farm” He named the development for Cassatt’s farm.
Chesterbrook is a mixed development, with office buildings, several types and styles of houses and townhouses and open spaces.”Issues such as schools, open space, traffic and roads were defined to help counter urban sprawl,” according to Jim Hovey, president of The Fox Companies. “Cassatt’s farm was owned by a company owned by Bill Levitt, Jr. son of the creator of Levittown. The Fox Companies were able to acquire three of the four packages of land.
Yeah, I know this has been quite the ramble. But I just don’t think Chester County needs to be completely annexed to the freaking Main Line. It’s preposterous. Stick to the history. It tells you the boundaries. And yes, there are several towns (and townships) that have parts of themselves which are part of the Main Line historically, although not in their entirety. Like parts of Chester County. Chester County has a rich history that is far more interesting than the mere history of the Main Line which was created by the railroads.
I will close with this funny as hell map of the Main Line I found on Pinterest. It is by a local artist and graphic designer named Barb Chotiner. She lives in Narberth…which is another place with it’s own unique and lovely history, yet it is part of the Main Line by history.
Thanks for stopping by….writing today as always from beautiful Chester County, PA. (NOT the Main Line.)
I am hearing from neighbors (across from Lloyd house) the developer isn’t tearing the circa 1795 house down. I hope that’s true! A bunch of us walked the house. Teens have vandalized it yet the house is solid. Something like 9 bedrooms!!
I met a lady in town whose mother grew up there. Her mother’s mother died when she was young so the father took a job at Lloyd farm taking care of the stables and horses and they lived in the house with the Lloyd family! (We assume based on dates it was the Lloyd family)
Sending photos I took. It’s such a huge old house.
Abandoned Steve photography documents old Chester county houses before they’re torn down. He took photos as well. His are better than mine.
Lloyd Farm. Sigh.
In December 2018 I had posted about Lloyd farm in Caln being at risk. Sources tell me that they had quite the crown turn out the other evening who turned out to protest this?
Things that people are worried about include will that historic farmhouse be torn down no matter what? Is it true that farmhouse does indeed have a fairly new roof and if this land was part of a William Penn Land Grant as in the guy who settled PA, how can this even happen? And what about the component of the big pipeline easement? How should that affect density of any development plan?
Things also being wondered about is this developer just looking for plan approvals to flip the parcel with approvals to yet another developer? And is this developer the guy who owns Suburban Propane?
Is it true that Caln’s solicitor was snippy with residents? And isn’t she the same gal who USED to hold or holds a similar position in West Goshen? East Goshen? Does something in Easttown and more places? Why does she seem so pro-development? Is she going to be mad I ask these questions? Aren’t we allowed to ask these questions? Will she try to stop me from asking these very reasonable questions?
And as for the category of “in the audience” who was the mystery attorney who seemed to object to some community flyer? Who was he there for? Apparently they also objected to residents concerned about development jacking up traffic?
So the meeting was paused until January, 2019, correct? And then there was this update January 5th that a reader posted:
Update on the Lloyd Farm. There is no public hearing being rescheduled. The people have spoken and the Commissioners have heard you! While this plan isn’t going to get through, REGAL WILL BE BACK. As quickly as they can. Yes they have a right to develop land the own and paid $4.6M dollars for. But they need to do it in a manner that is acceptable to the Caln Twp residents. We will be watching and reporting so keep a look out for news here and on www.calnwatch.info
I was driving by Lloyd Avenue while in Downingtown on Saturday with a friend, so is this part of that parcel? See below:
Is this part of “Lloyd Farm”?
So a recap is in order before I press on, ok?
Super historic. Known as the “Lloyd Farm”, “Valley Brook Farm” has a fire I would call mysterious a few years ago? Seriously.
Pretty crazy historic, and I understand there was a fire, but is super-sized developement all Caln Township can think is right for this property??? I am told the developer who has bought the “Lloyd Farm” was proposing 5 story apartment buildings, and commercial where there is NO zoning for it? So now what?
So if I read the history of the property correctly, it dates back to the late 1600s and a Penn Land Grant? And by 1996 it was owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia? (Now I make no secret of my disdain of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and their pedophile priest problems of recent past. Sorry, I digress again…)
Also check out places like the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s website. Land that was part of any Penn Land Grant is extraordinarily historically significant. Residents near and far and hsitorians should take note and attend meetings. Media local and regional might not find history and land development sexy, but they also need to get on the stick here. One blip on this important topic was in the Daily Local in early December.
According to the Caln Watch Website there is a meeting Tuesday, February 12 at the Thorndale Fire Hall 3611 Lincoln Hwy, Thorndale, PA 19372 – 6pm to 8pm (Parking located in school lot):
Soooo…among the questions that should be asked and that Caln Township and this developer needs to address is are they SAVING the historic farmhouse for real? If so enough with the demolition by neglect, right? If people are sending me interior photos, then the building is not properly secured and while safe for now the longer it is exposed to punk ass vandals and the elements is not good, correct?
Sooooo…my suggestion? Contact these folks. Make your opinions known. Flood meetings with bodies. Reach out to public officials and those who want to be in office or ummm have aspirations for higher office who are in local office now. Reach out to any historic preservation or media contacts you have.
Those misguided supervisors are voting on higher density B.S. zoning thing I never thought I would see in that township on Tuesday February 5th. I heard and was not surprised to hear they refused a resident petition against this? The East Goshen meeting starts at 7 PM. The agenda is posted and can be read HERE. People and media should attend that as well and read the packet linked here. (Also on Tuesday in East Goshen? A chicken ordinance. I find it ironic that chickens have such issues in a township that was once also a lot of farms. Yes, I am pro-chicken although I personally keep none.)
Why is this a call for arms? Simple. Chester County is groaning and suffering under the weight of over development and it needs to slow down or even stop for a good long while. Just this weekend I was in Glenmoore for example. They seem to suffer from lots and lots of power outages. Locals speculate part of the cause is the infrastructure can’t keep up with the pace of development.
Moderation is the key to true and actual smart growth. Only we don’t see that any longer. There is limited respect for the past and the architectural heritage of Chester County. Just like there is lip service paid to open space and agricultural preservation at times. It’s great when small parcels are preserved and handed down to the next generation, but what about these big parcels? Parcels like Crebilly and Lloyd farm are what a lot of our county was like for a very long time.
Now I actually do believe progress has a place but it’s the vision of progress I take issue with. Progress doesn’t have to hurt and wanton development hurts. We can’t support it long-term and by the time a lot of folks figure that out, the developers and current elected and appointed officials will be long gone, correct? As a county we have to look past the damn ratables that elected and appointed officials salivate over. They are a short-term financial gain if a gain at all since is it not true sometimes the ratables are not what people thought they would be?
Maybe some do not like my opinions, but I am entitled to them. Not every square inch should be developed. Not every square inch needs to be developed. Y’all aren’t going to get your veggies off the roof of places like Whole Foods are you?
Farms, open space, history need to be respected and preserved. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. What do you as a resident want the future to look like? Lots of Tyvec wrapped plastic beige boxes? More stucco McMansion horror show stories? Human warehouses for seniors and others? More ugly strip malls? The end of Main Street? Constipated bits of “open space” which is usually land that is not able to be developed?