Main Line Today
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 traditionally Bryn Mawr and ultimately Paoli, Pennsylvaniacomprising an area of approximately 200 square miles. The upper/upper middle class enclave outside of Philadelphia has historically been one of the bastions of "old money" in the Northeast along with places such as Westchester County, New York and Greenwich, Connecticut. It is home to some of the wealthiest places in the United States, such as Gladwyne, Pennsylvania which has the 14th highest per-capita income in the country with a population of 1,000 or more, as well as Lower Merion Township which has the 5th highest per-capita income in the country with 50,000 or more.
The Main Line was also the setting for the classic Hepburn/Grant/Stewart motion picture The Philadelphia Story. With diverse topography, steep cliffs along the Schuylkill River, rolling hills, and open meadows, the region 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 at celebrated destinations like Suburban Square in Ardmore and the King of Prussia Mall, one of the largest in the country. There is some disparity on the Main Line, with smaller homes and walkable village life in Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, and Narberth contrasting with the more established suburban landscape. There are also established African-American residential areas, in enclaves paralleling Lancaster Avenue said to have once housed people serving on the estates of the wealthy. The Main Line is home to some of the better colleges in the country, including Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, Eastern University, and Villanova University, as well as some of the most famous and exclusive private schools in the United States. The Haverford School for Boys, The Agnes Irwin School, Friends' Central School, Baldwin, and The Shipley School are especially prestigious institutions.
Communities on the Main Line
The Main Line proper is a line of communities extending northwest from the City of Philadelphia. From Philadelphia, the stations on what is now referred to as the R5 train line are: Overbrook,Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford and Bryn Mawr, which inspired the mnemonic "Old Maids Never Wed And Have Babies". The other rail line communities are outside the traditional Main Line and sometimes considered the Upper Main Line: Rosemont, Villanova, Radnor, St. Davids, Wayne, Strafford, Devon, Berwyn, Daylesford, Paoli, and Malvern. In recent years, the R5 train service has extended to the west of Paoli. Some communities, most notably Gladwyne, Bala Cynwyd, and Penn Valley, are included in what is commonly accepted as the Main Line, as they are typical Main Line communities, are adjacent to Main Line towns. Neither, however, is located on the rail line for which the area is named and therefore they may be considered culturally rather than geographically on the Main Line.
The Main Line by community:
The Main Line by municipality: