The “Town Center” sits dead ahead as you exit the train station. At the far end of the block is the Creekside Co-op, a locally owned grocer filled with organic, local foods. The high-end brick oven pizzeria (which is never open) is on your left side, and you think to yourself “I should go there sometime.”
You step off the platform and begin walking down the road – and down indeed. There are a lot of hills here. The station rests on top of one, the shops in its shadow. The hill on your right hold High School Park, a small patch of woods with a tiny meadow on top of the hill. You step over Tookany Creek and observe the trail leading along the bank, as well as the large black tube carrying the sewage scrubbed out upstream. Across the bridge on your left is the quarter-mile track where the middle schoolers from McKinley go to complain about practice. On the other side of the street are several houses, their small yards shaded by abundant trees.
You cross Church Road and continue along High School. A steep hill greets you, with more shaded suburbia. This is no housing development. This is an old suburb, dating back to the early 1900s, when William Lukens Elkins built his Gilded Age mansion on the “Elkins Estate”, a large patch of woods in a hilly area. Elkins was instrumental in the founding of Philadelphia’s public transportation authority. His huge estate lies derelict on the other side of the train tracks, unoccupied for the past 40 years. The Estate is filled with tall grasses, enormous bushes left free to grow, all surrounded by a 15-foot wrought iron fence.
Back to High School road, you continue walking through shaded suburbs, all the while uphill. The trees are a blessing in the 90 degree summers, though they have a habit of falling on power lines during storms. A right turn up another hill takes you to the highest point in town. You could see the three local synagogues if it weren’t for the trees.