Presidential Parade

When FDR came to Germantown and East Falls

FDR’s motorcade heading west on Chelten Avenue, with the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown visible at the right, as was published in the November 2, 1944 issue of the Germantown Courier. Photo courtesy of Germantown Historical Society/Historic Germantown.

Seventy-five years ago, throngs of local residents welcomed President Franklin D. Roosevelt as he visited Germantown and East Falls. According to the Thursday, November 2, 1944, edition of the Germantown Courier, 10,000 people crammed into the intersection of Germantown and Chelten avenues the previous Friday, to watch President Roosevelt’s caravan pass by, on its way to inspect the Philadelphia Signal Depot on the west side of Wissahickon Avenue, opposite Manheim and Clapier streets. His visit to the Signal Depot was one of several stops he made in Philadelphia. Others included Shibe Park and the Navy Yard – all to garner support for his re-election bid. Unfortunately, the weather was uncooperative, and intermittent downpours threatened to mar the event.

The 41-car caravan’s route in Germantown followed Germantown Avenue north to Chelten Avenue, then west on Chelten Avenue to Wissahickon Avenue, then south on Wissahickon to the Philadelphia Signal Depot. This route was quite indirect, as the caravan could have made a left from Germantown Avenue heading north onto Berkeley Street and then to Roberts Avenue and over to Wissahickon Avenue. It therefore seems that this route was designed at least in part to facilitate a parade.

Indeed, scores of people lined the route, and people in the office buildings along Germantown and Chelten avenues threw papers and pro-Roosevelt pamphlets down on the caravan. The crowd lining the streets may have perhaps been a bit disappointed, as the President was often partially obscured by many FBI agents riding with him for protection. Compounding the difficult view was that Roosevelt was wearing a Navy cape to shield him from the inclement weather. Despite the weather, the parade went off without a hitch.

About the Time Machine

This regular series goes back in time with Tuomi Forrest, Executive Director of Historic Germantown, as he picks some of his favorite images from the Germantown Historical Society’s extensive collection. Alex Bartlett, Librarian and Archivist of the Germantown Historical Society/Historic Germantown, writes the columns, bringing photos from the distant past to life. For additional information or to learn more about the history of our area, please contact Alex at (215)844-1683, or at

 About Historic Germantown

Historic Germantown (HG) is a partnership of 18 historic houses, destinations, and museums that have joined together to protect, preserve, and share some of the area’s prized cultural assets.

HG manages the Germantown Historical Society archives and a collection of over 50,000 items; for more information, visit or Located at 5501 Germantown Ave.



About Alex Bartlett 33 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.

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