21 Aug 2014
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Patch Instagram photo by dorispectorfineart
Patch Instagram photo by dorispectorfineart

Root of North Wayne's Problems?

When developers Wendell & Smith began construction of North Wayne in the late 1880s, they left a few areas unbuilt, evidently on purpose.

Root of North Wayne's Problems?

There has been much discussion lately about the storm water problems of North Wayne, particularly with last week's Board of Commissioners meeting where a proposal was presented to turn North Wayne Field into a storm water basin.

This park, a miraculously undeveloped parcel located between the railroad tracks and houses on North Wayne Avenue and West Beechtree Lane, was originally the playing field of the Radnor Cricket Club.

When developers Wendell & Smith began construction of North Wayne in the late 1880s, they left a few areas unbuilt, evidently on purpose: Poplar Avenue, which was reportedly swampy, and the portion of North Wayne Avenue pictured here, now the east side of the 200-block.

Despite the fact that North Wayne Avenue is the main artery from the center of town to the neighborhood, it was simply not worth draining the two ponds pictured here, fed by Gulph Creek, for a row of new homes. Instead, this property remained relatively natural and was left as a public park, a bucolic oasis that the builders thought was best left undisturbed. As open land became desirable in Wayne, even this wetland went up for development.

At the end of the First World War, a row of Craftsman bungalow-type homes arose on this block and around the corners of Walnut and Poplar Avenues, the ponds drained and the stream diverted. Yet despite this seeming prevalence of man over nature, the fury of storm water has had its vengeance on those very homes ever since.

- Greg Prichard, Radnor Historical Society

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