Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company Trolley Waiting Station, 1910
7633 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19118

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

Nineteenth century transportation to Chestnut Hill by omnibus and horse cars was succeeded by a continuation of the electric traction line which reached Germantown in 1894. Although Chestnut Hill was served by two suburban railroad lines, it was the trolleys that provided cheap and convenient transportation for the general public. The schedules were set according to the demand, and the frequency was increased during the commuting hours.
The Union Traction Company operated the original trolley line that reached Chestnut hill in 1896, and in 1902 the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company was incorporated. This was reorganized in 1939 as the Philadelphia Transportation Company, and then was purchased in 1968 by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), the current owner and operator.
1 The present Route 23 Trolley from Germantown Avenue and Bethlehem Pike in Chestnut Hill to Tenth and Bigler Streets in South Philadelphia is the longest trolley line in the city. The waiting station is a 1-1/2 story, stone building with a flared hip roof, two door openings, two gabled dormers and bracketed eaves. John Horace Frank was the architect.
In 1910 the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company purchased a tract of ground comprising almost four acres at Germantown Avenue and Cresheim Road for $10,000. A newspaper reported that the ground would be used as the site for a large car barn to relieve the congestion at the Pelham Car Barn in Mount Airy. It was considered likely that the building of this additional car barn would have "an important bearing upon the extension of the freight and express service on the trolley road," an idea which was the result of the successful experiment in hauling freight to Philadelphia over the Doylestown line. It was stated that many farmers would be glad to ship milk and farm produce to Philadelphia over the trolley roads, and that a trolley express package system would greatly benefit the people of Chestnut Hill and Germantown.
2 The proposed car barn was never built, and the trolley loop and waiting station were constructed on the site in 1910-1911.

1   J. W. Boorse, Jr., Philadelphia in Motion  (1976).
2   "Public Transportation—Trolleys," clipping file at Germantown Historical Society.

Update May 2007 (by Jane Mork Gibson):
The Waiting Station is now the Trolley Stop Florist. The florist has occupied this site for eighteen years and is operated by Edwin Palmer. Located “at the foot of the Hill," it is an attractive entrance to Chestnut Hill, displaying colorful flower arrangements on the sidewalks outside the building. Because the shop is open twenty-four hours a day, it provides a unique service to the community. The site is leased from SEPTA where the property is known as the “Mermaid Loop Building." The Mermaid Loop includes the substation (see 10.4) located next to the trolley waiting station.