Melrose Park Neighbors



Towards a HISTORY of our area

Last updated 3-19-02


 This photo is undated. Perhaps one of our intrepid historians can nail the date for us!

 Here is a view of the same scene, circa early 2002.

 Close-up from the above photo. This breaks up, but you can see the hats on the gents more clearly.




Introduction by Albert Fried-Cassorla...

We hope to compile a history of the Melrose Park area, or at least of our organization and its predecessors.

In the meantime, here are two interesting views of the area, circa 1909. Notice that property owners are indicated by name!

You can see that Melrose Park Station had a different name at the time. The Oak Lane Water Company is barely visible in the upper left. This is now the Stratford Gallery.

The map below is an inset of the map farther below. The map from which both were taken is itself enormous, at 33" wide and 24" tall!




 This inset of Gordon Elkins' map shows the "Asbury Lake," which no longer exists. There used to be a gazebo there, too.


A History of the Melrose Park Improvement Association, as told by Gordon Elkins:

"We got here in 1964, and MPIA was a very well-know group. It was a useful political tool. Jim Price was Township Commissioner in this area, and he was killed by a train. He was very active in the group, and this was a way to help become elected as a Commissioner.

"Lam and Buchsbaum (real estate agents) referred people requesting zoning variances to MPIA. The group was very interested in real estate. Our Melrose Park Train Station was called Oak Lane Train Station. People asked: "Why Oak Lane in Melrose Park? The explanation was that real estate promoters felt that people did not want to come into suburbs, wanted a Philly name for the line.

"The station near the bridge at Church Road used to operate there. John Wanamaker wanted to finance the station, and wanted the new station named after him. But large estate owners said they did not want to do it. They called the Reading RR and asked for a change to Melrose Park Train Station, in the late 50's early 60's.

"The railroad line had nothing to do with SEPTA at the time. The Philadelphia Inquirer came. It was a major event: the re-naming of the Melrose Park Train Station."


The 1960's Medical Building Struggle

"I (Gordon) was president of the Melrose Park Improvement Association at the time. On the northeast corner of Cheltenham and Mountain Avenue, people came to put up a medical building. They showed a picture of a 3-story rectangular brick building. We told them this was terrible. We said GO BACK and make it look like a residence. So they did. It looked great. Now the building stands at the northeast corner of Cheltenham Avenue and Mountain.


How MPNA helped win a new $2.5 million station for Melrose Park

Bill Donnelly, MPNA SEPTA chairperson reported: "Jeff Kneuppel of SEPTA said to me:

'When I came to the neighborhood to meet here (an MPNA meeting at the Steigerwalds, perhaps in 2000, I went back to SEPTA and said 'This group in Melrose Park is so committed and enthusiastic. They are not going to settle for just a tiny shelter for a replacement station (10 years after the fire burned the original). They will not be satisfied by it.' So as a result of your group's work, I argued strenuously for an entire new station, and I got it. This new station is at least twice as big at least as it would have otherwise have been.'"

Relevant link:

Old York Road Historical Society