Broad Streets

Re-engineering Germantown streets to accommodate the automobile

6000 block of McCallum Street in Germantown (circa 1910), before street widening. This block was originally constructed as a small, dead-end street with a small courtyard, extending northwest from Harvey Street. Photo courtesy of Germantown Historical Society/Historic Germantown.

As we saw in February’s “Time Machine” article, the arrival of the automobile had a profound effect on Germantown, with the removal of railroad crossings on the Chestnut Hill West line being one such consequence. Many area streets, dating from the mid-19th century and earlier, were designed with horses and buggies in mind, not automobiles. Besides being quite muddy, many of our area streets were not wide enough to handle cars.

Such was the case of the 6000 block of McCallum Street in Germantown. This block was originally constructed as a small, dead-end street with a small courtyard, extending northwest from Harvey Street.

However, in the 1910s, plans were made to widen the 6000 block of McCallum Street from 15 feet to its present-day width of 50 feet. By circa 1917, work was underway and McCallum Street was widened. This was accomplished by moving the small twin houses at 6017-6023 McCallum Street, as well as the larger single house at 41 West Harvey Street.

Widening McCallum Street from 15 feet to its present-day width of 50 feet. (Circa 1917). It was accomplished by moving the small twin houses at 6017-6023 McCallum Street, as well as the larger single house at 41 West Harvey Street. Photo courtesy of Germantown Historical Society/Historic Germantown.

The two photographs shown illustrate the appearance of the street before the widening took place (above) and after. The house visible towards the left front in both photographs, at 101 West Harvey Street, was not moved during the improvement. The two sets of twin houses to the back right – those at 6017-6023 McCallum Street – were moved back about 20 feet. Since this work was completed, little has changed to the present day.

About Alex Bartlett 7 Articles
Librarian and archivist Alex Bartlett combines his hobbies with his career. Working for the Germantown historical society, Bartlett manages the libraries’ collection and archives, while also helping to provide visitors with requested research documents. Alex is a self-described “history nerd,” with interests in archeology and old bottles and glassware. He said that growing up in Germantown is what initially stimulated his enthusiasm toward historical documents and objects, and his job manages to integrate all of his interests into one field.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.