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Rail Hub: 1906

Rail Hub: 1906

Circa 1906. "Elevated railway terminal, 70th and Market streets, Philadelphia." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Another Terrific View

An even better shot of the backside of the Terminal shows all the operations. At left you can see the Philadelphia and Western Railroad's powerhouse, and one of their cars at the platform. To the right, the tracks of the Frankford El, curving out from the platform and off frame to the yard. And finally the stub-ended tracks of the trolley lines. We see the neat little control tower, a large Brill car signed for Collingdale on the Sharon Hill line and its bow-tied motorman.

More interestingly (to me at least), just on the hairy edge of the frame at far right you can catch a glimpse of a horse and buggy and the fields beyond. Those fields represented the last farm in the increasingly suburban Upper Darby.

Marshall Jones, my neighbor, one of the last of the old-time farmers in this area of the country, would recall that farm fondly many years later. "I can remember my uncle's corn fields just across West Chester Pike from the 69th Street terminal building" he would write in his Recollections. But within a few years of this photograph, his father decided the area was becoming too crowded, and the family moved out to Westtown Township in Chester County. The farm here on 69th Street would be developed into a number of buildings, including the Tower Theater.

Additional Information

From my brother, who lives in suburban Philadelphia. He's an expert on the history of rail services in that area. His collection of books on the subject is probably larger than most people's entire library:

It's the Market Frankford Elevated subway from 44th and Market to (what is now) Interstate 95.

The picture is the Elevated yard west of the 69th Street Terminal.

At the time of the picture, the Elevated extended across the Schuylkill before going underground at 22nd Street [I think that it now goes underground before the Schuylkill].

As we Philadelphians all know, "You can't get to heaven on the Frankford EL, cause the Frankford EL goes straight to Frankford." This subway was called the Frankford Elevated. It followed Market Street from 69th street (at the western city boundary) into Center City, then at the Delaware River turned north and ended in Frankford in northern Philadelphia.

100+ years later

It looks like the 69th Street Transportation Center. There's a rail loop that climbs past a retaining wall that looks pretty similar. (At least it does to me, anyhow.)

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