I had never heard of Wayne, Pennsylvania prior to starting at Bravo.
After growing up near the beach and then spending my college years in central PA, I assumed this town resembled the other towns I’ve seen west of the Ben Franklin Bridge– rich with empty fields, barns and cattle.
(I was even more excited that there was no livestock in sight AND that my plan to wear salmon-colored pants when the weather got cold would be encouraged and accepted by all the preppy people living in this area.)
Wayne, Pennsylvania is located eighteen miles outside of Philadelphia in Radnor Township. It turns out this Main Line town was built on a strategic plan and a quirky history.
History of Wayne
The Lenni Lenape Indians occupied the area now known as Wayne until the 16oos when a group of Quakers from Radnorshire, Wales claimed it as their own. William Penn officially established the township and outlined its borders in 1681. During the early years, the Welsh settlers utilized the power of the Ithan and Darby creeks to establish mills and grow their settlement.
By the early 1800s Lancaster Pike –America’s first toll road – was up and running through this area. (I’m just assuming that no one cared about the Welsh anymore at this point.) By the mid-1800s a portion of the Columbia Railroad between Philadelphia and Harrisburg – once formally known as The Main Line of the Public Works of the State of Pennsylvania – was completed and allowed for wealthy bankers like James Henry Askin to visit and eventually purchase property.
Askin bought 300 acres of land and built a Victorian house named “Louella” in honor of his (spoiled) daughters Lousia and Ella. The town was eventually named after his (increasingly spoiled) daughters as well. Askin was also responsible for building the Wayne Presbyterian Church, mansions along Bloomingdale Avenue and The Opera House.
In 1880, Askin decided that owning and developing beautiful property was boring. He sold his land to Anthony J. Drexel and George W. Childs who planned to strategically develop the Louella. This early suburb – one of America’s first planned suburbs– quickly became a summer country getaway for individuals looking to spend time out the city.
Drexel and Childs eventually renamed the town Wayne after General Anthony Wayne.
Today, Wayne is known as one of the best places to live and start a business. The Bravo Group loves its location in the Greater Philadelphia Area. According to the staff and residents Wayne is the center of the universe, after all.
Can’t get enough Wayne history? The Wayne Business Association offers another inside look at the history of the town and the main line.