#TBT - Reading Railroad - Armat St


The scene shown in this undated but circa 1900 photograph is completely unrecognizable today. Until 1930, the former #ReadingRailroad’s branch to Chestnut Hill (now SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill East line) was not separated from cross roads by a grade as it is now. Before 1930, most of the area’s roads crossed the railroad tracks at the same grade. Therefore, traffic from the roads would conflict with the operation of the railroad. The ever-increasing popularity of the automobile would make this problem more acute. Therefore, in 1930, the Reading Railroad undertook a huge project to remove all railroad crossings from its Chestnut Hill branch. One such railroad crossing was that at Armat Street, seen here. The elimination of the railroad crossings wasn’t entirely about safety, however. At the same time, the Reading Railroad installed electric power along the line; this propelled the trains as it does today. However, having the railroad and surrounding roads at the same grade would cause the power lines of the railroad to conflict with those of the surrounding roads. Reconstructing the railroad to operate on its own grade and right of way eliminated this problem; the newly-reconstructed railroad opened in 1931.