An archive: housing the written history of the citizens of Bucks County, Pennsylvania

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Virginia Tech


The growth of any community is marked many times over by the coming of progress which may be regarded either with promise or as a threat. The history of Doylestown records the arrival of train travel as an event.

It would be a remarkable change that could put a small town on the map by opening doors of travel and communication in the heart of rural farmland. The tracks entered the town from the southwest and ended a few blocks downhill from the original crossing of Main and State Streets at its center. The rail line would now be the demarcation between town and country - an edge. A passenger station was built as were an array of light industrial and farm trade buildings, splayed out in rows along the lengths of track. The empty lots between center and edge became a weave of streets lined with town houses constructed to acknowledge the train with large front porches open wide welcoming the arrival of both the familiar and the stranger.

The ebb and flow of pedestrians descending and ascending from town to train and train to town became the daily ritual established by such progress. It is in this routine and the willing communication between buildings that lay a complimentary existence defining the character of a neighborhood.

It is a further part of progress that centers of activity with their subsequent community of buildings become obsolete. Yet from obsolescence may be found rebirth, and the rail yard was no exception. Commerce waned and then shifted from industrial and agrarian means to service oriented trade with each vacant structure quietly resurrected under adaptive re-use. The commuter line still operates though continually threatened with closure. A truth made evident by the perpetually locked doors of the station. The only activity that has a direct connection to the rail yard's past is the ritual of the commuting passengers. Pedestrian traffic into town still beats its daily walk up the stairs and sidewalks along the same streets. The numbers are now supplemented though by a stream of vehicles as evidenced by the number of parking spaces fit neatly into the available open nooks of the old freight house. Despite these progressive changes what is of greatest significance is that none has occurred to the detriment of the fabric of the existing neighborhood. It remains a distinctly vibrant edge only because new activities were necessary in offering new opportunities and a feeling of continuum. The site for the archive therefore lies at this edge of town.