Re-engineering Germantown streets to accommodate the automobile
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.
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.