Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

Philadelphia Transportation Company Substation, 1945
7641 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19118

Jane Mork Gibson, Workshop of the World (Oliver Evans Press, 1990).

The new streamlined cars put into service on the Chestnut Hill trolley line after World War II required more power than the earlier cars. Substations were built in outlying sections near the end of the six-mile distance possible for satisfactory direct current (d.c.) distribution over the existing system carrying the d.c. power from the Chelten Avenue Substation.
This substation was one of the first stations to be operated unattended. It contains switching equipment to:
(a) lower voltage and change alternating current (a.c.) to d.c.
(b) act as a big fuse box with circuit breakers that shut off power in emergencies such as when power lines come down in a storm.
The station receives 13,000-volt a.c. and converts it into 600-volt d.c. with mercury arc rectifiers, the earliest form of non-rotating equipment.
The substation is a one-story, classical styled brick power station with stone base, stone cornice and flat roof. It is situated next to the Trolley Waiting Station. The Philadelphia Transportation Company was the owner, architect and contractor. The present owner is the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

1   Telephone interview with John Tucker, September 1, 1989.

Update May 2007 (by Jane Mork Gibson):
This site is located next to the
Trolley Stop Florist. The substation is owned by SEPTA and is part of the Mermaid Loop. No further information was available.