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Before the 1600’s Lenni Lenape Indians called this area their home. In the 1600s William Penn sold land to a group of Welsh Quakers for ten cents an acre, although not known as the Main Line this was the beginning of the area being settled by those other than native Americans.
The Main Line proper is a line of communities extending northwest from the City of Philadelphia. The Main Line originally referred to a water line which serviced particular areas. It later became known to represent the communities along the Pennsylvania Railroad mail route, now Septa’s R5 regional rail train line. From Philadelphia, the stations on the train line are Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr. The other rail line communities extending past Bryn Mawr are Rosemont, Villanova, Radnor, St. Davids, Wayne, Strafford, Devon, Berwyn, Daylesford, Paoli, and Malvern running out to Exton and Downingtown.
The Main Line Railroad was constructed during the nineteenth century and traveled through the area from Philadelphia to Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. The railroad is still in service and is used by both SEPTA and AMTRAK. At the time, the Railroad owned much of the land surrounding the tracks and encouraged the development of this picturesque environment. The construction of sprawling estates attracted the wealthy Philadelphia elite, many of whom had one house in the city and another larger "country home" on the Main Line.
Today the Main Line is another name for the western suburbs of Philadelphia along Lancaster Avenue (U.S. Route 30) and the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line , extending from the city limits to approximately Downingtown. The principal municipalities comprising the Main Line are LowerMerionTownship, Haverford Township , RadnorTownship, TredyffrinTownship, EasttownTownship, Malvern Borough, CharlestownTownship, E. Whiteland Township, W. Whiteland Township and Downingtown Borough. Development is still under way pushing the Main Line further west and with the proposed development of Coatesville over the next ten years I am sure we will see even these outlying areas being included at a later date.
With diverse topography, steep cliffs along the SchuylkillRiver, rolling hills, and open meadows, the Main Line has benefited from the early planning of William Penn. The Main Line is known for its multimillion-dollar Stone Colonial homes, exclusivity, and upscale shopping. The Main Line is also home to some of the best public and private schools in the state, and for its many small private colleges. Bryn Mawr College, Cabrini College, Eastern University, Harcum College, Haverford College, Immaculata University, Rosemont College, St Joseph’s University and Villanova University
The upper/upper middle class enclave outside of Philadelphia was the setting for the classic Hepburn/Grant/Stewart film "The Philadelphia Story" and is featured in several novels as well.
The Main Line - Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Berwyn, Bryn Mawr, Belmont Hills, Devon, Downingtown, Exton, Frazer, Lower Merion, Malvern, Narberth, Paoli, Radnor, Rosemont, Strafford, Villanova, Wayne, Wynnewood.