Wednesday, September 16, 2009
This West Philadelphia neighborhood isn’t your average suburb. And the ambiance isn’t a product of some undistinguished humdrum history behind it. In fact, its past chronicles some pretty interesting facts about why this area still lives out its old-fashioned days with the use of the railcar. And while the streetcars here aren’t named desire, they might as well be, because the tram in West Philadelphia, is something the community members can’t do without.
The Walnut Hill neighborhood in the West Philadelphia section of Philadelphia extends from 45th to 52nd street, and is in between Market and Locust streets. The area is traditionally known as a streetcar suburb. Streetcar suburbs are communities whose establishment and development were based primarily on the use of railcars as a means of transportation. The use of these cars, also known as trams or trolleys, allowed for homes to not be constructed so closely to the streets, and provided for more room between the actual edifices and sidewalks.
For a West Philadelphian, the streetcar is about as important as water is for human sustainability. It is not only an important means of transportation, but it is cost convenient for the constructors and residents, leaves the neighborhood accommodating to pedestrians, and adds uniqueness and spice with its option to remain classic, and keep such a historic piece of its past.
When walking through a streetcar suburb in West Philadelphia, one can also be sure to catch sight of plenty of parking garages and bicycles. In the early development of these suburbs, because the homes were further away from the streets, a considerable amount of empty space in front of the houses was left; which was later turned into room for parking garages. The rails in the streets also made it more dangerous for cyclists, so efforts were turned to making more bicycle lanes to make cycling safer.
Not too many cities can still boast about keeping a tradition such as this, and very few still use railcars. But in West Philadelphia, trams can be found running rampant all over.
-Candice Walker and Nicole Finkbiner, Group 23 , Walnut Hill-GardenCourt
Posted by Candice Walker at 11:30 PM