The Main Line is an unofficial historical and socio-cultural region of suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, along the former Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which runs northwest from downtown Philadelphia parallel to Lancaster Avenue (US Route 30). The railroad connected the Main Line towns in the 19th century. They became home to sprawling country estates belonging to Philadelphia’s wealthiest families, and over the decades became a bastion of “old money”. Today, the Main Line includes some of the wealthiest communities in the country, including Lower Merion Township, Radnor Township, Gladwyne, and Villanova. Rail service is provided by Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor and SEPTA’s Paoli/Thorndale Line.
Today, the “Main Line” is another name for the western suburbs of Philadelphia along Lancaster Avenue (U.S. Route 30) and the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line, extending from the city limits to, traditionally, Bryn Mawr and ultimately Paoli, an area of about 200 square miles (520 km2). The upper- and upper middle-class enclave has historically been one of the bastions of “old money” in the Northeast, along with places like Long Island’s Gold Coast, Westchester County, New York, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and Fairfield County, Connecticut.
It is home to some of the wealthiest communities in the United States, such as Gladwyne, which has the 14th highest per-capita income in the country for places with a population of 1,000 or more. The eastern section of Villanova also was ranked 39th in “The Elite 100 Highest Income Neighborhoods in America” with a median annual household income of $366,904.
The Main Line proper is a line of communities extending northwest from the City of Philadelphia. From Philadelphia, the stations on what is now referred to as the Paoli/Thorndale (formerly “R5”) Line are: Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford and Bryn Mawr, which inspired the mnemonic “Old Maids Never Wed And Have Babies”. The Main Line now encompasses many communities past Bryn Mawr including the Upper Main Line communities of Rosemont, Villanova, Radnor, St. Davids, Wayne, Strafford, Devon, Berwyn, Daylesford, Paoli and Malvern.