The Market Street subway-elevated line turns 100 years old on Sunday, and riders get the birthday gift: free trips for the afternoon.
The birth of the Market Street Line, which allowed passengers to travel easily from 69th Street to the Delaware River, linked Center City to burgeoning new development in West Philadelphia. And it helped spawn more growth west of the Schuylkill, as 69th Street Terminal sprouted in the midst of cow pastures.
Philadelphia’s oldest high-speed line — which has since grown into the Market-Frankford Subway-Elevated — emerged at the dawn of intra-urban rail travel, coming just a decade after the last horse-drawn car finally left the streets, following the rise of cable cars and electric trolleys. New York, Chicago and Boston already had built elevated rail lines to whisk riders above congested streets, and Philadelphia had been contemplating one since the 1890s.
Built in optimistic boom times of a city whose population was growing by 2,000 people a month, the new train line was an instant success. Within three years of its opening on March 4, 1907, the Market Street line was carrying 29 million riders a year, at a nickel a ride.
INQUIRER: All Aboard, Yo!