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Bustleton's past brought to life at History Network meeting

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On the first Wednesday of every month, the Northeast Philadelphia History Network meets to discuss the past. This Wednesday was no different. More than a dozen members from the network came together at the historic Pennepack Baptist Church to watch a visual presentation of photographs from Charles Silker’s circa 1910 postcard collection of Bustleton.

Fred Moore led the meeting and addressed a few things before starting the show. Moore noted Pennepack Baptist Church was celebrating its 325th year of existence and there would be a two-day celebration marking the historic event on June 1 and 2.

Immediately following this announcement, Moore started the show, which displayed many photographs taken from Silker during the early 1900s as he traveled through the Northeast. These images showcased the neighborhood of Bustleton and what it looked like 100 years ago.

The show began with attempting to determine where the name Bustleton came from and from what people believe, the name comes from settlers who arrived at the area from Brislington, England.

The photographs showed a town used as a stopover place more than 100 years ago, Moore said. Many of the images included multiple hotels which were believed to house travelers either coming from or going to Newton, Pa.

Other pictures showcased the trolley system, which first arrived in Bustleton in 1922. But as Moore and the attending members said, the trolleys lasted for only 25 years.

Many of the historic relics in the photographs are long gone. Now what exists are remnants of a small town that thrived on housing travelers. Moore said the drive to expand and create roads that led through Bustleton caused developers to demolish many of its historic sites.

“The sad part about the expansion was people couldn’t do anything," Moore said. "Bustleton was a small stopover town, there weren’t many people who could even band together to oppose the development."

Near the end of the meeting, Moore assured the members the next meeting in June would be held outside.

“As we like to do in the summer months, we will begin meeting outdoors next month and will be hosting the meeting at a cemetery,” Moore said.

The next meeting is June 5 and more information about what will be discussed can be found on the network’s website.
 Ryan McDonald is a student reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University's Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.


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