History of Lansdowne

Now…

Lansdowne Borough offers the best of the old and new in an honest-to-goodness small-town setting with a big sense of community. The area that is now known as the Borough of Lansdowne was settled in the early 1700s and named after the English estate of Lord Lansdowne.

At just over one square mile, Lansdowne is small in stature and big in what it has to offer. Its people, services, charm, architecture, culture and history of civic dedication combine to provide the true warmth that can only be found in a small town such as ours.

Residents can stroll along wide tree-lined streets admiring large Victorian homes from another era, as they make their way to the center of town. Lansdowne Avenue accommodates many shops, restaurants and businesses that serve local residents. Baltimore Avenue, a major east/west artery connecting the city and Delaware County suburbs, is a major shopping and services network that runs through the center of the borough.

The 75-plus-piece Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra has resided here for over 50 years. Its season stretches from October through April with performances held at Upper Darby High School.

Philadelphia lies just six miles to the east, a quick drive or 15-minute commute by rail. Its towering skyline is easily visible in our community.

…and Then

Lansdowne Borough has a rich industrial and commercial history. One hundred years before it was incorporated as a separate entity from Upper Darby, the area which is now Lansdowne Borough was historically home to various industries. Textile, paper, cotton and dye mills were operated along Darby Creek.

By the mid-19th century, a single rail track ran through the town. Big changes followed the construction of a second track in the 1880s by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The freight line brought silk, tin work, roofing, piping and steel mill trades to the area.

In addition to its rich industrial base, the area became known for its small but elegant hotels and guesthouses including The Evergreen Lodge, Hartel’s Guest House and The Windermere. The floral trade also blossomed with the well-known Pennock family, William Leonard and August Valentine Doemling all operating floral businesses here.

The expanded rail accessibility soon attracted real estate developers. The farmers of the largely agricultural Upper Darby were not particularly interested. Eager to take advantage of new opportunity, leaders of the local business community petitioned the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and in June of 1893 they were granted permission to incorporate the Borough of Lansdowne.

A trolley line along Baltimore Pike, linking the many towns between Media and Philadelphia, was constructed at the turn of the century providing an easy commute between the city and outlying towns.

Situated just six miles from Philadelphia’s City Hall, Lansdowne became a haven for middle-class families wanting to settle in eastern Delaware County. Between 1900 and 1910, residential development throughout the Borough boomed. The Victorian mansions from this era still grace the town’s streets and provide much of the charm that remains today.

The area’s best architects, including renowned Philadelphia architect Frank Furness, teamed with local builders to display some of their grandest designs in Lansdowne. Furness designed the Lansdowne train station. His thumbprint is also on the Barker Building as well as many private residences throughout the Borough.