Philadelphia's Main Line
I love maps and geography. However, I’m not always successful in pinpointing a location, and my sense of direction is abysmal. In my work-in-process, the protagonist joins the USO in Baltimore (my hometown!). I wanted her to live a couple of hours away by train. Her parents are quite wealthy, so I needed to put them in a somewhat swanky area. I settled on Philadelphia. A FB friend shared my request for information about the area, and I was referred to the Main Line section of town.
The Main Line refers to the Pennsylvania Railroad route connecting Pittsburgh and Philadelphia via Harrisburg. Because the railroad owned much of the land surrounding the lines, the company was able to build way stations along the portion of its track outside Philadelphia. The area was touted as “healthy yet cultivated country living.”
It wasn’t long before Philadephia’s social elite began flocking to the area to build their “country homes” on the Main Line. Estates with acres of manicured lawns and landscaped gardens were designed by the most famous architects of the era. Debutante balls and recreational sites such as the Merion Cricket Club sprang up.
Visit Bryn Mawr College’s collection of images of the Main Line Mansions. They bring to mind Newport, RI and Long Island’s “Gold Coast,” and an era gone by.