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Trolley Day: Where 1938 Meets Today on the Tracks


University City District invites everyone to participate in UC Trolley Day, "where 1938 meets today on the tracks." On Saturday, October 16, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., SEPTA, the University City Historical Society, University of Pennsylvania, and University City District will be encouraging everybody to taste, hear, and see the modern and historic charms of University City.  Free rides will be available all day on three newly renovated 1930s era Philadelphia trolley cars. These cars will operate in a continuous loop, connecting riders to concerts, historic home and garden tours, restaurants, bakeries, shops, farmers' markets, museum displays, book sales, and tree plantings.

UC Trolley Day will be the passenger debut for SEPTA's restored PCC cars. These cars originally ran in Philadelphia from the late 1930s to the early 1990s.  Light, agile, and now air-conditioned, the 18-car fleet was rebuilt to operate on the route #15 Girard Avenue trolley line, re-introducing lost connections between West Philadelphia, Fairmount, and Northern Liberties.

The construction of horsecar lines in the late 1850s and their electrification in the mid-1890s enabled the conversion of the neighborhood from a collection of estates and farms into a thriving residential area. Federally designated as a "historic trolley car suburb," much of University City retains the streets, trains, housing, institutions, and parks that were constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The neighborhood also enjoys recent developments such as new retail and restaurants, park renovation, and an influx of new families choosing to call the neighborhood home.

"UC Trolley Day showcases University City's brilliant present by riding on a shining piece of the past," says Mike Hardy, one of Trolley Day organizers and member of the University City Historical Society. "We invite you to pick up free tickets at many locations throughout University City including UCD's office at 3940 Chestnut Street."  The trolleys will loop south through the Penn campus along 40th Streets, West on Spruce and 42nd Street to Baltimore Avenue, South on 49th Street, and East on Chester Avenue.

Riders will be able to board and disembark at more than 15 locations throughout the neighborhood approximately every 20 minutes.  From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., trolley riders will be free to enjoy the following attractions during their tour:

• Tour historic houses and gardens (on the 4500 block of Chester Avenue) including visits to the Gables, a Victorian bed and breakfast, and private homes and gardens on this intact block designed by Willis G. Hale in 1888.

• Attend book signings of Joel Spivack's Philadelphia Trolleys and Robert Skaler's West Philadelphia, University City to 52nd Street, purchase UC Architectural Treasures posters highlighting images of the area's famed period architecture, and experience University City Then and Now, a beautiful and informative slide presentation at the UCHS office at Calvary Center, 48th and Baltimore Avenue.

• Visit The Rotunda at 4014 Walnut Street to experience a variety of crafts from oil paintings, prints and sculptures to clothing, handbags, mirrors, and footstools, with posters, zines, and more. All the items for sale are handcrafted by Philadelphia artists. Plus, noon-2 p.m.: Russell Kutcher & Eric Coyne perform Classical duets for cello and violin with members of the Muhlenberg Piano Quartet and the Haddonfield Symphony Orchestra.

• Tour the Lower Mill Creek Garden (a joint project of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, UC Green, Baltimore Avenue in Bloom and the Philadelphia Water Department) at 43rd and Chester.

• Meet at SE corner of 43rd and Chester for registration and demonstration tree planting. Break into teams to plant 50 "underwire" trees appropriately sized for planting under PECO's high-voltage wires at various locations in University City. Join University City Tree Tenders, neighbors, and USP students in this greening event.

• See a photography exhibition at the University City Arts League at 42nd and Spruce Sts.

• Visit the pharmacy museum at the Marvin Sansom Center for the History of Pharmacy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Main Floor, Griffith Hall, 600 S. 43rd Street.

• Enjoy international cuisine along Baltimore Avenue from Italy, Laos, Thailand, Africa, India, and Eclectic American including the newly reopened Marigold Kitchen at 45th and Larchwood.

• Shop for fresh and organic groceries at the Firehouse Market, 50th and Baltimore; Fresh Grocer, 40th and Walnut; and the Clark Park Farmers Market, 43rd and Baltimore.

• Purchase baked goods: at Sugar Hill Bakery, 49th and Baltimore; Metropolitan Bakery, 40th and Walnut; Genuine Bread and Specialty Shoppe at 45th and Springfield Avenue.

• Experience Philadelphia's largest Tiffany windows at the Calvary Center, 48th and Baltimore, as part of the historic Calvary Church of 1895.

• Enjoy coffee or water ice at the Green Line, 43rd and Baltimore; the Paris Café, 41st and Walnut; the Bucks County Coffee House, 40th and Locust; La Naz Café, 47th and Baltimore and Café d'Afrique, 45th and Baltimore Ave.

• See a movie at The Bridge Cinema de Lux, 40th and Walnut.

• Have a drink at the new Mar Bar, 40th and Walnut; Copa, 40th and Spruce; Mill Creek Tavern, 41st and Chester; Gojjo's, 45th and Baltimore; Dahlak's, 47th and Baltimore; The Library at the Inn at Penn, 37th and Walnut.

• Get your membership card and borrow a book from the newly restored Walnut West Library, 40th and Walnut.

• Visit Clark Park, University City's largest public space, at 43rd and Chester avenues and see the only statue of Charles Dickens in existence.

• Experience West Philadelphia Streetcar Suburb Historic District in style (as you travel through portions of the Cedar Park and Spruce Hill neighborhoods still laced with functioning trolley tracks, a prime factor for their original development and one of the special amenities and opportunities for their future desirability for living in the 21st century).



  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 7, October 12, 2004


October 12, 2004
Volume 51 Number 7


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