Philadelphia Main Line
Main Line of Philadelphia
Mainline, Main Line, Philadelphia Main Line
Collection of suburban communities
Map of the historic Main Line, circa 1895.
Location of Pennsylvania in the United States
|County||Mainly Montgomery and Chester, small section of Delaware|
|Named for||The Pennsylvania Railroad's Main Line|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Area codes||610, 484, 267, 215|
The Philadelphia Main Line, known simply as the Main Line, is an informally delineated historical and social region of suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lying along the former Pennsylvania Railroad's once prestigious Main Line, it runs northwest from Center City Philadelphia parallel to Lancaster Avenue (U.S. Route 30).
The railroad first connected the Main Line towns in the 19th century. They became home to sprawling country estates belonging to Philadelphia's wealthiest families, and over the decades became a bastion of "old money". Today, the Main Line includes some of the wealthiest communities in the country, including Lower Merion Township, Radnor Township, and Tredyffrin Township. Today, the railroad is Amtrak's Keystone Corridor, along which SEPTA's Paoli/Thorndale Line operates.
- 1 History
- 2 The Main Line today
- 3 Communities on the Main Line
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Transportation
- 6 Recreation and attractions
- 7 Sporting and social clubs
- 8 Education
- 9 Higher education
- 10 In popular culture
- 11 Notable Main Liners
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
- 14 Further reading
- 15 External links
The Main Line region was long part of Lenapehoking, the homeland of the matrilineal Lenni Lenape Native Americans (the "true people", or "Delaware Indians"). Europeans arrived in the 1600s, after William Penn sold a tract of land, called the Welsh Tract, to a group of Welsh Quakers in London in 1681. This accounts for the many Welsh place names in the area.
The Pennsylvania Railroad built its main line during the early 19th century as part of the Main Line of Public Works that spanned Pennsylvania. Later in the century, the railroad, which owned much of the land surrounding the tracks, encouraged the development of this picturesque environment by building way stations along the portion of its track closest to Philadelphia. The benefits of what was touted as "healthy yet cultivated country living" attracted Philadelphia's social elite, many of whom had one house in the city and another larger "country home" on the Main Line.
In the 20th century, many of these families moved to the Main Line suburbs. Part of the national trend of suburbanization, this drove rapid investment, prosperity, and growth that turned the area into greater Philadelphia's most affluent and fashionable region. Estates with sweeping lawns and towering maples, the débutante balls and the Merion Cricket Club, which drew crowds of 25,000 spectators to its matches in the early 1900s, were the setting for the 1940 Grant/Hepburn/Stewart motion picture The Philadelphia Story.
The railroad placed stops about two minutes apart, starting with Overbrook. The surrounding communities became known by the railroad station names which started at Broad Street Station in Center City Philadelphia and went on to 32nd St. Station, and then the Main Line stations: Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Rosemont, Villanova, Radnor, St. Davids, Wayne, Strafford, Devon, Berwyn, Daylesford, and Paoli. At least five of these station buildings, along with the first Bryn Mawr Hotel, were designed by Wilson Brothers & Company. Broad Street Station was replaced with Suburban Station in 1930, and 30th Street Station replaced 32nd Street three years later. Suburban service now extends west of the Main Line to the communities of Malvern, Exton, Whitford, Downingtown, and Thorndale.
The railroad line then continued on to Chicago, with major stations at Lancaster, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. The railroad, since taken over by Amtrak, is still in service, although its route is slightly different from the original. It also serves the Paoli/Thorndale Line of the SEPTA Regional Rail system.
The Main Line today
Today, the "Main Line" is another name for the western suburbs of Philadelphia along Lancaster Avenue (U.S. Route 30) and the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line, extending from the city limits to, traditionally, Bryn Mawr and ultimately Paoli, an area of about 200 square miles (520 km2). The upper- and upper middle-class enclave has historically been one of the bastions of "old money" in the Northeast, along with places like Long Island's Gold Coast, Westchester County, New York, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and Fairfield County, Connecticut.
Neighborhoods along the Main Line include nineteenth and early twentieth-century railroad suburbs and post-war subdivisions, as well as a few surviving buildings from before the suburban development era.
Communities on the Main Line
The Main Line proper is a line of communities extending northwest from the City of Philadelphia. From Philadelphia, the stations on what is now referred to as the Paoli/Thorndale (formerly "R5") Line are: Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford and Bryn Mawr, which inspired the mnemonic "Old Maids Never Wed And Have Babies". The Main Line now encompasses many communities past Bryn Mawr including the Upper Main Line communities of Rosemont, Villanova, Radnor, St. Davids, Wayne, Strafford, Devon, Berwyn, Daylesford, Paoli, and Malvern.
There is no collective data for the Main Line, so all data is by ZIP code. In comparison, the median family income and home price for the state of Pennsylvania are $68,646 and $155,000, respectively. The following ZIP codes are those within the previously mentioned municipalities that make up the Main Line. All data, with the exception of average home price, are as of the 2000 census. For comparison, the median family income of Beverly Hills, California is $110,040.
|ZIP code||Name/Aliases||Population||Median family income||Average home price|
|19010||Bryn Mawr, Rosemont, Garrett Hill||21,485||$110,956||$866,346|
|19072||Narberth, Penn Valley||9,824||$106,057||$718,746|
|19087||Wayne, Radnor, St. Davids, Strafford, Chesterbrook||30,892||$105,680||$737,025|
|19096||Wynnewood, Penn Wynne||14,179||$111,683||$770,538|
The Main Line is served by numerous modes of transportation among which are three commuter rail lines operated by SEPTA. Connecting the region directly with Center City Philadelphia are the Paoli/Thorndale Line which shares the former Pennsylvania Railroad four track Keystone Corridor grade with Amtrak, and the Manayunk/Norristown Line which operates over the former Reading Railroad Norristown grade. The light rail Norristown High Speed Line runs over the Philadelphia and Western Railroad line between 69th terminal in Upper Darby to Norristown. Amtrak's intercity Keystone Service (New York City to Harrisburg) and Pennsylvanian (New York City to Pittsburgh) also serve the region with stops at the jointly operated Amtrak/SEPTA stations at Ardmore and Paoli.
The main thoroughfare through the Main Line is U.S. Route 30 which follows Lancaster Avenue (formerly the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike) running east to west and serves as the backbone of the region by connecting a large majority of its towns and municipalities. Other highways serving the area are the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) which connects it to Philadelphia, and the Blue Route (I-476) which runs north to south connecting the region with the Northeast Extension and the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the north, and to Philadelphia International Airport and I-95 to the south. Along the northern edge of the Main Line, US 202 runs from the Schuylkill Expressway in a southwesterly direction, crossing US 30 in Frazer.
SEPTA also commissions suburban buses on Routes 105 and 106 to run from Upper Darby to Bryn Mawr, with rush hour service extended to Paoli. These buses run almost entirely along Lancaster Avenue.
SEPTA also offers light rail service through the Norristown High Speed Line. The Norristown High Speed Line runs along the Main Line from Upper Darby to Ithan Avenue Station and Villanova Station before making a northward turn at the junction of Lancaster Avenue and the Blue Route toward Norristown.
Recreation and attractions
- The Appleford Estate: A 300-year-old 24-acre (97,000 m2) estate located in Villanova. Today it is carefully maintained as an arboretum and a bird sanctuary. Its gardens were designed by renowned landscape architect Thomas Warren Sears and include woods, meadows, formal gardens, brick walkways, rhododendron tracts, a stream, pond, and waterfall. Admission is free of charge and the house is available as a rental for special events.
- Bryn Mawr Film Institute: A non-profit community theater founded in 2002 in the old Bryn Mawr Theater building, built in 1926, which is in the process of significant restoration. The institute offers showings of classic movies of the 20th century, opera, film education courses, and film discussions.
- The Cynwyd Heritage Trail is a 1.8-mile (2.9 km) linear 'rail-to-trail' park which opened in 2011. The trail intersects with roads, bridges, neighborhoods, parks, railway stations, historic mills, and the West Laurel Hill and Westminster Cemeteries. The trail also connects to the pedestrian-only Manayunk Bridge on the Schuylkill River, which opened in 2015.
- Chanticleer Garden: An estate and botanical garden located in Wayne, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Devon Horse Show: The oldest and largest multi-breed horse show in the U.S.
- Harriton House: Located in Bryn Mawr, was built in 1704 by a Welsh Quaker named Rowland Ellis. He named the estate "Bryn Mawr", meaning "high hill" in Welsh, which is where the community gained its name. The house's best known occupant was Charles Thomson, the first and only secretary of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.
- Jenkins Arboretum: A nonprofit botanical garden located in Devon.
- The Woodmont Estate
Private clubs played an important role in the development of the Main Line, offering social gathering places and facilities for cricket, golf, tennis, squash, and horseback riding to wealthy or socially connected families. Among them are:
- Aronimink Golf Club
- Merion Cricket Club
- Merion Golf Club: Ranked America's 7th best golf course in 2008 and hosted the U.S. Open in 2013.
- Overbrook Golf Club
- Philadelphia Country Club: One of the first 100 golf courses established in the USA. Hosted the 1939 U.S. Open.
- Radnor Hunt: the oldest active foxhunting group in the United States
The school districts that serve the Main Line are Lower Merion School District in Montgomery County, Radnor Township School District and School District of Haverford Township in Delaware County, and Tredyffrin/Easttown School District and Great Valley School District in Chester County. The region has numerous nationally ranked public and private schools. Among them are:
- Bryn Mawr College
- Cabrini University
- Eastern University
- Harcum College
- Haverford College
- Immaculata University
- Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies
- Rosemont College
- Saint Joseph's University
- St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
- Valley Forge Military Academy and College
- Villanova University
In popular culture
- The Philadelphia Story (1940)
- Kitty Foyle (1940)
- South Pacific (1958) : Character "Lt. Joe Cable, USMC" is from Ardmore
- The Young Philadelphians (1959)
- The Happiest Millionaire (1967)
- Obsession (1976) : Starring Cliff Robertson, Genevieve Bujold and John Lithgow
- Taps (1981): starring Timothy Hutton and Tom Cruise, filmed at VFMA, featuring scenes in Wayne (at Farmers Market and North Wayne Avenue)
- Trading Places (1983)
- Mannequin (1987)
- Downtown: Set in Bryn Mawr and filmed in Philadelphia, starring Anthony Edwards, Forest Whitaker and Joe Pantoliano
- Philadelphia (1993): Tom Hanks' character celebrates Thanksgiving at his family home in Lower Merion
- To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995): Patrick Swayze's character's family home is located on the Merion side of Highland Avenue in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
- Wide Awake (1998): M. Night Shyamalan movie, filmed at his alma mater, Waldron Mercy Academy, starring Rosie O'Donnell and Denis Leary.
- The Sixth Sense (1999): The wake scene was set in Bryn Mawr
- The Art of War (2000)
- In Her Shoes (2005): Toni Collette's character attends a Main Line wedding and jokes about what she should wear. Starring Cameron Diaz and Shirley MacLaine
- Pride (2007)
- Dare (2009)
- Happy Tears (2009)
- Tenure (2009)
- The Art of the Steal (2009): Documentary chronicling the acquisition and emigration of the Barnes art collection from Merion to Philadelphia.
- The Lovely Bones (film)
- A Stranger is Watching: The main character's murdered wife Nina grew up in a wealthy Philadelphia Main Line Family. In the book, it mentions that Nina went to Bryn Mawr College.
- Blackbird Sisters mystery novels by Nancy Martin
- Bobos in Paradise, by David Brooks
- Official Preppy Handbook, by Lisa Birnbach
- The Pretty Little Liars series, by Sara Shepard, which uses the fictional Main Line suburb of Rosewood as its setting.
- Pterodactyls, by Nicky Silver. The play is set in a Main Line house.
- Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison. The character First Corinthians is educated at Bryn Mawr College.
- The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. Valley Forge Military Academy (where Salinger attended for 2 years) is the basis for Pencey Prep. Additionally, the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, believes Jane Gallagher to have gone to Shipley, a Main Line private school.
- The It Girl, by Cecily von Ziegesar
- The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
- The Man of My Dreams, by Curtis Sittenfeld
- The Badge of Honor Series, by W.E.B. Griffin The main character, Matt Payne, is from Merion.
- Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The main character gets assaulted by a tennis coach in Ardmore and subsequently works as a nanny on the Main Line (possibly Merion)
- Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll, which uses the Main Line and the fictional Bradley School, based on The Shipley School, as its setting
- The Ginger Barnes Main Line Mysteries, by Donna Huston Murray, take place in the Philadelphia Main Line.
- All My Children, Soap opera which aired from 1970–2011, set in a fictional suburb of Philadelphia, named "Pine Valley", which was modeled after the town of Rosemont.
- Broad City
- My Super Sweet 16
- One Life to Live
- Pretty Little Liars, as with the book, set in fictional Rosewood based on the city Rosemont, PA and modeled on Wayne, PA.
- How to Get Away with Murder
- Mad Men: Betty Draper, Don Draper's wife in seasons one through three, is said to be from Lower Merion Township and to have attended Bryn Mawr.
Notable Main Liners
- Mark Herzlich, NFL football player
- Kyle Eckel, NFL football player
- Julius Erving, NBA basketball player
- Kobe Bryant, NBA basketball player
- Richie Ashburn, Philadelphia Phillies baseball player and Phillies broadcaster
- Hobart "Hobey" Baker, amateur hockey and football player, member of the Hockey Hall of Fame
- Kyle Korver, NBA basketball player
- Allen Iverson, NBA basketball player
- Jeffrey Lurie, Owner of the Philadelphia Eagles football team
- Emlen Tunnell, NFL Hall of Fame football player, born in Bryn Mawr
- John Spagnola, former NFL football player
- Andy Reid, former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles football team
- Edward M. Snider, chairman of Comcast Spectacor, Philadelphia Flyers
- Tory Burch, fashion designer and New York City socialite
- Albert C. Barnes, physician, chemist, businessman, art collector, writer, educator, and founder of the Barnes Foundation
- Walter Annenberg, newspaper and magazine publisher (Triangle Publications), ambassador, billionaire, philanthropist
- Gloria Braggiotti Etting, author, photographer, hostess, and wife of artist Emlen Etting.
- David Boreanaz, actor
- The family of Georg Ludwig von Trapp, the family depicted in The Sound of Music
- Chubby Checker, musician
- Gideon Glick, actor
- Patti Labelle, musician
- Andrew McKeough, actor
- Teddy Pendergrass, musician
- M. Night Shyamalan, film director
- Abbi Jacobson, co-star and co-creator of Comedy Central television series Broad City.
- Kate DiCamillo, children's book author
- Anne Francine, actress and singer
- Ronald Perelman, billionaire, controlling owner of MacAndrews & Forbes and Revlon
- J. Howard Pew, son of Joseph N. Pew, founder of Sun Oil Company, and co-founder of The Pew Charitable Trusts
- Alex Scott, founder of the nationwide U.S. charity Alex's Lemonade Stand to raise money for children with cancer
- John Borland Thayer, Jr., cricketer, Pennsylvania Railroad VP (lost on the Titanic)
- Edward T. Welburn, Vice President of Global Design, General Motors
- John Bogle, founder and CEO of the Vanguard Group
- Alexander Cassatt, former president of the Pennsylvania Railroad
- Clement Acton Griscom prominent nineteenth-century American shipping magnate, businessman. His home, Dolobran in Haverford is noted for its architecture.
Military / Government / Science
- Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II; General of the Army, General of the Air Force
- John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado
- Pete Conrad, NASA astronaut; third man to walk on the moon
- Alexander Haig, U.S. Secretary of State, White House Chief of Staff, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
- Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress from 1774–1789
- Harris Wofford, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania
- David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon Eisenhower
- Oscar Goodman, mayor of Las Vegas, Nevada
- Andy Hertzfeld, computer scientist (Apple)
- Hilary Koprowski, polio vaccine pioneer
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
- "Top-Earning Towns". Money.cnn.com. 2010-07-14. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
- "Top-earning towns: 20. Radnor Township, PA". CNN Money. 14 July 2010. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
- "America's Richest Zip Codes 2011".
- D'Apéry, Tello J. (1936). Overbrook Farms. Its historical background, growth and community life (PDF). Philadelphia: Magee Press. p. 4.
- Fodor's Philadelphia & the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, 16th Edition (Fodor's Gold Guides), New York, p. 106.
- Jim Waltzer (January 2008). "Where the Tracks Lie". Main Line Today. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
- Philly NRHS – PRR History
- The community of Overbrook is a neighborhood within the city limits of Philadelphia and is no longer generally regarded as being part of the Main Line.
- U.S. census
- Ardmore Real Estate Market Today
- Bryn Mawr Real Estate Market Today
- 19041 Zip Code Detailed Profile
- Haverford Real Estate Market Today
- Merion Real Estate Market Today
- Narberth Real Estate Market Today
- Villanova Real Estate Market Today
- Wayne Real Estate Market Today
- Wynnewood Real Estate Market Today
- Paoli Real Estate Market Today
- Berwyn Real Estate Market Today
- Devon Real Estate Market Today
- Malvern Real Estate Market Today
- Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Archived 2008-11-13 at the Wayback Machine
- SEPTA Route 105 Schedule
- SEPTA Route 106 Schedule
- Official page
- Appleford Estate, history Archived 2009-08-08 at the Wayback Machine
- Bryn Mawr Film Institute Archived 2009-06-16 at the Wayback Machine
- FISHER, CHRISTINE (July 12, 2013). "Staycation: Cynwyd Heritage Trail". www.planphilly.com. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
- Harriton House history
- "Radnor Hunt - About Us". www.radnorhunt.org. Retrieved 2019-01-14.
- Alter, Alexandra (2016-03-29). "Jessica Knoll Reveals the Rape Behind Her Novel, 'Luckiest Girl Alive'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-07-01.
- Hoffman, Alice (September 23, 2011). "'All My Children': Farewell to Pine Valley". www.articles.latimes.com. LA Times. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
- Bennett, Kitty. "Where Are They Now? Julie and David Eisenhower", AARP Bulletin, December 22, 2010. p. 1.
- Browning, Charles H. (1912). Welsh Settlement of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: William J. Campell.
- Harding, George (2011). Main Line by Rail: Its History and Transformation.
- Jones, Dick, ed. (2000). The First 300: The Amazing and Rich History of Lower Merion. Ardmore, PA: The Lower Merion Historical Society.
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