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The Best Neighborhoods on the Main Line

Philadelphia’s Main Line traces its origins back to the 19th century. A lot has changed since that time, but one major thing hasn’t; the Main Line is still one of the most noteworthy living areas in Pennsylvania and the entire country. Therefore, it’s no wonder that so many of Philadelphia’s older residents have chosen to retire in one of the Main Line’s best neighborhoods. 

What is the History of the Main Line? 

In the 1800s, the Main Line was, as the name suggests, a main connection for the Pennsylvania Railroad. At that time, it brought Pittsburgh and Philadelphia together, via Harrisburg. Eventually, the Main Line was split into two rail lines, which are now utilized by Amtrak and the Norfolk Southern Railway. 

As a larger part of land that had once been home to the Lenni Lenape Native Americans, the scenic Main Line area quickly attracted some of Philadelphia’s wealthiest residents. By the onset of the 20th century, it was common for well-to-do families to have two homes: one in Philadelphia, and one in the country off the Main Line. It quickly became popular to host debutante balls and other sprawling social events at the Merion Cricket Club. This lifestyle was shared with the world via the 1940 movie “The Philadelphia Story,” starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart. 

The Main Line also led to the creation of several small suburban neighborhoods. The core group is referred to locally by the acronym “Old Maids Never Wed and Have Babies.” The towns represented by this old-school mnemonic device are: 

  • Overbrook 
  • Merion 
  • Narbeth
  • Wynnewood
  • Ardmore 
  • Haverford 
  • Bryn Mawr 

The Main Line’s Best Neighborhoods

There are many other neighborhoods that have sprung up on and around the Main Line area, including Wayne, Paoli, Gladwyne, Villanova, Radnor, Strafford, Devon, and Berwyn. Only one of the original core seven towns, Ardmore, has a median household income below six figures. In the greater area, approximately half of the Main Line’s neighborhoods are more affluent than the median family in Beverly Hills, CA. 

Of course, determining the top-notch neighborhoods requires more than simply looking at income. This is especially true where elderly residents are concerned. Therefore, we chose towns that offer an abundance of shopping and activities in an easily walkable downtown area. 


One of the most appealing things about Narbeth is that the borough is so small most residents can reach their preferred shopping locations without a vehicle. In total, Narbeth is only 0.50 sq. miles and has a population below 4,500. There’s also easy access to the train, along with a nearby hospital. 

When the times of social distancing are finally behind us, residents will once again be able to enjoy a wide variety of independent dining, retail, and entertainment options. Additionally, the neighborhood hosts the annual Narbeth Dickens Festival and a Spring Sidewalk Sale. 


This unincorporated community has a lot of interesting history. For example, “The Sound of Music” was based on the real-life Von Trapp family that settled in Merion after escaping Austria. Additionally, President Theodore Roosevelt honored the town in 1917 with a written piece for “Model Marion,” which was a local magazine. 

The Merion-Cynwyd Commercial District is filled with many notable landmarks, restaurants, and shops. The Arboretum of the Barnes Foundation is a lovely place to visit, but make sure you contact the Arboretum first to schedule an appointment. 


If you’re looking for a truly affluent place to retire or visit, Gladwyne is the top choice on the Main Line. According to Bloomberg, this community with just above 4,000 people is one of the 10 richest zip codes in the United States. The National Register of Historic Places added the Gladwyne Historic District in 1980. 

There are many activities available in Gladwyne, including a visit to the 1690 House, which is the entire area’s oldest standing building. Nature lovers will definitely enjoy traversing the 22 miles of wildlife that are accessed via the Bridlewild Trail.


The previously mentioned Merion Cricket Club is still alive and well in Haverford. This community has approximately 6,300 residents. However, it abuts the larger Haverford Township where more than 49,000 people live. Per Niche, Haverford Township is the sixth best place to live in Delaware County.

Given Haverford’s history as a home to some of the state’s wealthiest citizens, it’s unsurprising that a long list of notable people hail from here such as actors Frank Converse and Karin Katherine Taylor. Several former professional athletes have also lived in Haverford, including Ken Henderson (MLB), John LeClair (NHL), and Jameer Nelson (NBA).     

Senior Assistance on the Main Line 

If you or a loved one are a senior living in a Main Line community, we’re here to help! Our in-home, non-medical services include companion care, dementia care, and assistance with life skills. Contact us for more information! 

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