Thursday, March 6, 2008

Borders and intersections

That's the Borders Book Shop at the top of Chestnut Hill, at the intersection of Germantown Avenue and Bethlehem Pike. Borders has been there since the early to mid 1990s. Before that, a succession of two Gulf stations occupied this spot since 1947. Before the Gulf stations, the Maple Lawn Inn operated from this location, and before that, the Yeakel General Store. This takes us back to the 1870s. It is more than likely that some commercial establishment stood here for most, if not all, of Chestnut Hill's three hundred year history.

One could make the case that the history of Chestnut Hill is founded on that coming together of these two roads -- Germantown Avenue and Bethlehem Pike -- originally two Native American trails.
For three centuries these two routes have served Chestnut Hill. Even in the late twentieth century, they provide the only direct road-ways through the center of the community. During the early decades, these roads allowed Chestnut Hill function as a what might be called a "gateway village." Like Charlestown and Cambridge outside Boston, and similar fringe communities near Baltimore and New York, Chestnut Hill sat astride a main road (in this case, two of them) that ran into the city and allowed the village to serve as a commercial gateway to the metropolis beyond.
-- David R. Contosta, Suburb in the City, 1992.
Although incorporated by Philadelphia in 1854, Chestnut Hill has maintained its village like character. This is in part because of its proximity to the Wissahickon Valley, which forms its western boundary and isolates it from the rest of the city.


Val Cox said...

this looks like a nice place to spend a Saturday afternoon!

oldmanlincoln said...

I liked this post a lot. Well done.