Life On The Main Line

A region of Pennsylvania that is shrouded in as much allure as it is history, the Main Line has become more than just a collection of small towns, it has become a lifestyle. The moniker “Main Line” refers to a geographic area to the west of Philadelphia that was created with the construction of Pennsylvania’s first major railway. Here, rolling hills and verdant farmlands come into view as the buildings of the city fade into the distance. Vast estates sprawl across the landscape, and stunning mansions demonstrate the beauty of turn-of-the-century construction.

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HOW THE MAIN LINE CAME TO BE

One of the most sought-after regions of Pennsylvania came to be out of competition. Competition to stay relevant in the world of the Industrial Revolution and competition to become one of the most enticing retreat areas in the state. The story of the Main Line begins in the 1600s when William Penn sold land to Welsh Quakers seeking religious freedom. Their arrival bought the development of farms,mills and small hamlets. By the early 1800s, Philadelphia had transformed into a booming metropolis and needed a way to expand its trade offerings westward. The answer: the Main Line of Public Works for the State of Pennsylvania – later dubbed the Philadelphia & Columbia Railway – an 82-mile rail line between Philadelphia and Columbia, PA. Fourteen more stops were added when the railway was sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in 1857, creating the 17 stops that the Main Line has today. Railway executives were encouraged to settle the scenic regions along the tracks, and their stories of the beauty of the countryside attracted Philadelphia’s elite class, as well. Thus, the Main Line became an idyllic destination for summer homesand rural retreats. Massive homesteads hand-built of local stone were constructed,as were mansions made of brick and beautiful farmhouses looking upon the scenic vistas. These original estates have become a hallmark of the Main Line and remain today as a reminder of the “old money” that infuses the region.

Towns of the Main Line

 

The Main Line is split into two sections: the east and the west. Making up the first seven stops on the railway are Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford and Bryn Mawr, which is easily remembered by the mnemonicdevice Old Maids Never Wed And Have Babies. These towns make up the eastern line. The following 10 stops, Rosemont, Villanova, Radnor, St. Davids, Wayne, Strafford, Devon, Berwyn, Daylesford and Paoli, are all the western. Locals remember the western stops by Really Vicious Retrievers Snap Willingly, Snarl Dangerously Beagles Don’t Period. These towns are of varying size, with Wayne and Ardmore being the largest. Even the smallest of the towns often cross multiplecounty lines and are parts of numerous townships, making this region one of the most unique in all of Pennsylvania.

 

Living on the Main Line

Life on the Main Line is one of great prestige and community. The towns are small and homey, and the residents enjoy access to some of the best things in life both in their towns and just miles away in the city. Access to the ever-convenient SEPTA makes commuting to the city easy, as does the proximity to the region’s most frequently traveled byways: Route 30 (Lancaster Avenue), which connects many of the Main Line towns and surrounding cities; Interstate 76 (the Schuylkill Expressway) that runs directly into Philadelphia; I-467 (the Blue Route), which connects to the Pennsylvania Turnpike; and I-95 that takes residents to Philadelphia International Airport – a drive that takes 30 minutes or less.Being a family-friendly region, the Main Line features some of the most distinguished schools in the state. In fact, Radnor Township School District and Lower Merion School District were ranked within the top 3 in Pennsylvania, according to Niche’s 2019-2020 analysis. As for private schools, options abound onthe Main Line. The Baldwin School and the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Friends Central School in Wynnewood, the Agnes Irwin School in Rosemont, the Haverford School in Haverford are all ranked in the top 20 private schools in the state according to Niche; however, there are additional private schools that focus on specific religious or educational philosophies. There are few new-construction developments on the Main Line, and the history of the region is evident through non-gridded roadways. An overall commitment to quality is visible in the real estate, commercial and recreational offerings of the area. The neighborhoods are mostly well-established, with mature trees, beautiful homes and kempt landscaping. Charming commercial centers brim with local businesses and eclectic restaurant offerings. The Main Line is home to several country clubs, including LLanerch Country Club in Havertown, Waynesborough Country Club in Paoli, Glenhardie Country Club in Wayne and Radnor Valley Country Club in Villanova, amongst others. There are also esteemed golf clubs in the region, such as the Merion Golf Club, which is ranked 5th on Golf Digest’s list of “100 Great American Golf Courses,” and the Ardmore Golf Club that has played host to the U.S. Open. Other attractions are the Merion Cricket Club and the Radnor Hunt Club.

 

A Preview of the Main Line

 

Haverford

A town where history collides with modern amenities, Haverford is a staple of the Main Line. Here, historic buildings and traditional Main Line institutions sit aside abustling commercial district and some new developments.

Radnor

A wonderful area for families, Radnor offers a true community feel. This town is home to some of the best schools on the Main Line, as well as many parks, coffee shops and small businesses.

Villanova

Home to the famous Villanova University, Villanova is a charming college town filled with great food and beloved attractions, such as Stoneleigh Gardens.

Merion Station

Nature and recreation are hallmarks of Merion Station. Residents enjoy access to avariety of housing types, and well-kept parks abound. The beloved Merion Golf Club, which has hosted the U.S. Open numerous times, is also here.

Bryn Mawr

A thoughtful balance of modern amenities and old-world beauty is found in Bryn Mawr. This town is spread between two counties and three townships and includes some of the most sought-after private schools in the region.

Gladwyne

While not technically on the Main Line, Gladwyne has earned an honorary spot dueto its proximity to the rail line. This destination offers a rural residential feel that isreminiscent of old England.

Penn Valley

The beauty of nature was not impeded in the creation of Penn Valley. Here, beautiful historic homes sit on vast expanses of land, and properties are spread outfrom one another, fostering a tranquil environment.

Narberth

Fictional Mayberry is brought to life in Narberth, a town that exemplifies small-town Americana. Nearly the whole town is walkable, and each year, the July 4th Celebration brings in visitors from all over the Main Line.

Wynnewood

Perhaps the most diverse real estate market in all of the Main Line region is found in Wynnewood. Here, buyers can find new condominiums, mid-century homes and historic charmers. The town also features a lively commercial district.


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