Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Public Transportation

Railroad Suburbs

image of steam engine pulling railroad cars that resemble horse-drawn buggies

This image from 1832 shows a steam engine pulling railroad cars that resemble horse-drawn buggies at the Philadelphia Germantown & Norristown depot at Ninth and Green Streets. (Library Company of Philadelphia)

Library Company of Philadelphia


This image from 1832 shows a steam engine pulling railroad cars that resemble horse-drawn buggies at the Philadelphia Germantown & Norristown depot at Ninth and Green Streets. Starting in the eighteenth century, wealthy Philadelphians moved to the small borough of Germantown and built grand country estates to escape the crowded city. This influx of wealthy residents to the outskirts of town necessitated a reliable, efficient means of travel to and from the city. As a result, in the early 1830s a group of Germantown entrepreneurs set out to create the Philadelphia, Germantown, and Norristown Rail Road. The first trains arrived in Germantown in 1832, and the community soon developed into the first railroad suburb of Philadelphia, and one of the first in the nation.

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