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The Legacy of the 23

August 1, 2011

Ever wonder about the trolley tracks running up and down Germantown Avenue? NewsWorks contributor Claire Salmons takes a look back at the trolley line that helped shape Northwest Philadelphia.

Trolley tracks E. Chelten Ave near Germantown Ave (1956). (Photo from

Created prior to 1877, Route 23 ran from Germantown Depot to 8th and Dauphin. A pivotal feature in the economic development of commercial corridors along Germantown Avenue, the 23 trolley once needed 85 cars a day to serve all the riders!

Although the trolley hasn’t operated since 1992, there’s still an interest in bringing the trolley back. In 2008, the PennDOT road reconstruction project on the Avenue in Chestnut Hill/Mt. Airy included installing new and improved trolley tracks, poles and wires. We can only wonder if history will repeat itself in the form of another 23 trolley, but its legacy lives on in the tracks through Historic Germantown!

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