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Talk of the Towns


The Main Line area would be little more than run-of-the-mill suburbia if it weren’t for its great towns. And what makes a town great? Its walkability—and all the myriad conveniences that come with it. It’s something that came up again and again as senior editor Tara Behan interviewed local real estate agents for this month’s cover story, “Our 29 Best Towns.”

In so many ways, places like Narberth, Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Wayne, Malvern, Media, Phoenixville, West Chester and Kennett Square couldn’t be any more distinct from one another. But what they do have in common are thriving, walkable downtowns. All but three (Phoenixville, West Chester and Kennett Square) have commuter rail access, and each has a wealth of dining, shopping and entertainment options just steps from a train station and/or parking facility.

For your community’s walkability rating, visit Walk Score (walkscore.com), a clever, infinitely useful website that measures how easy it is to live a “car-lite” lifestyle, awarding points based on proximity to amenities. Of the towns mentioned above, four—Narberth, Bryn Mawr, West Chester and Phoenixville—were rated a “Walker’s Paradise.” The rest came in at a not-too-shabby “Very Walkable.”

“Studies show that, the higher your walk score, the higher dollar amount you’ll get for your home,” says Dana Caterson of Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors in Devon. “I always include a walk score with all my listings.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that any Main Line town with its own best interests at heart continues to do everything it can to make life easier for pedestrians. Paoli and Ardmore currently have major strategies in place to tame the divisive swath of Lancaster Avenue that puts a damper on foot traffic, with the success of both plans hinging on pending overhauls of their respective train stations. Throughout our area, home prices have remained fairly consistent over the past 20 years for a reason. “The walkability factor, the school districts—those things have stabilized our prices,” says John S. Duffy of Duffy Real Estate in Narberth.

Then again, it’s unlikely that anyone who’s set down roots in, say, Chester Springs or Unionville is lamenting those towns’ “Car-Dependent” rating on Walk Score. Different strokes for different folks, it seems.

A kid at heart, associate editor Shannon Hallamyer was the natural choice to take the reins of our first-ever Kids’ Guide, which is loaded with worthwhile fun and educational options for children and families. And with spring just around the corner, isn’t it high time for all of us to start thinking young?

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