A. Merritt Taylor is the patron saint of this site. He was a visionary and if his ambitious plans had been executed, Philadelphia would be a very different place.
A. Merritt Taylor was named Philadelphia’s first director of City Transit in 1912. While serving as director he produced a series of plans for rapid transit in Philadelphia that are collectively referred to as the Taylor Plans. In addition to the Market Street Subway and Elevated which had opened in 1907, Taylor advocated the immediate construction of the Frankford Elevated, the Broad Street Subway with spurs to to the Northeast and Germantown, the Darby Elevated, a subway under the Parkway and elevated to Roxborough.
In his 1913 report, Taylor lays out his future plans for Philadelphia’s Rapid Transit. In addition to the rail lines that he had previously urged be built, he added lines on Girard and Allegheny Avenue, an elevated to Southwest Philadelphia, a second elevated to the Northeast and conversion of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Chestnut Hill line to rapid transit. He also proposed a Chestnut Street tunnel connecting Philadelphia to Camden.
Taylor also advocated a single 5¢ fare for all of the rapid transit systems and free transfer to surface trolleys.
Taylor was the director of City Transit for four years and under his leadership, work began on the Frankford Elevated and Broad Street Subway. When Thomas B. Smith was elected mayor in 1916, he replaced Taylor with William S. Twinning. Twinning, who was on Taylor’s staff, favored a more conservative approach to rapid transit construction. Twinning recommended only building lines where there was already demand, while Taylor saw transit as a stimulant of growth.
Even after Taylor was replaced, he remained an advocate for Philadelphia’s rapid transit plans. Working with the Mayor Smith to further rapid transit in the city and to help resolve issues between the city and Philadelphia Rapid Transit, the privately run monopoly that was to run the new lines.
With World War I on the horizon, Taylor went to Washington D.C. to become the Emergency Fleet Corporation and Shipping Board’s head of passenger transit, ensuring workers could get to-and-from shipyards around the country.
After the war ended, Taylor returned to private business as president of the Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company and Springfield Real Estate Company. The real estate company developed residential development along the trolley company’s railways in Delaware County.
Taylor retired in 1932, handing the company to his son, Merritt H. Taylor who grew P&WCTC into the Philadelphia Suburban Transit Company, known for its Red Arrow Lines.
If Taylor’s plans were followed through, we would live in a very different Philadelphia today.
Abraham Merritt Taylor Resume
Born: March 2nd, 1873, Burlington, NJ
Died: June 6th, 1937, Ardmore, PA
William Sellers & Company of Philadelphia
1890 to 1899
- Handled investment securities in real estate, railway stocks and bonds
Philadelphia & West Chester Traction Company
1899 to 1902, 1919 to 1932
- Elected president at age 24.
- Expanded trolley service from 8 miles of track to 50 miles of track by purchasing the Philadelphia and Garrettford Street Railway and the Ardmore & Llanerch Street Railway companies.
- Purchased new equipment for company.
- Implemented modern operation methods.
- Formed Eureka Light, Heat & Power Company in 1901 to sell surplus electricity to homeowners.
- After years in public service, returned to P&WC in 1919.
- Added bus service to trolley lines via Aronimink Transportation Company in 1923.
New Jersey & Hudson River Railway & Ferry
1902 to 1912
- Added modern double deck ferry boats to service.
- Oversaw construction of New York City ferry house.
- Extended railway service from Hackensack to Patterson, NJ.
- Acquired railway and extended service to Newark, NJ.
City of Philadelphia
Transit Commissioner, Director of Department of City Transit
- Investigated the problems of transit facilities in Philadelphia.
- Advised on to establish and finance rapid transit system in Philadelphia.
- Created the “Taylor Plan,” planning the location, costs and management of the city’s new subway and elevated lines.
- Oversaw construction of city’s rapid transit lines.
- Offered guidance to Pittsburgh regarding rapid transit planning.
- Remained involved in moving rapid transit forward in Philadelphia.
- Consulted on Harrisburg, PA transit.
Emergency Fleet Corporation and Shipping Board
Manager of Passenger Transportation, Director of Eastern Transit
1918 – 1919
- Oversaw transportation of shipyard workers to and from 145 shipyards on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts.
- Involved in 24 housing projects at a cost of $65 million.
- Homes – 8,829 grouped in villages
- Apartments – 119
- Dormitories – 19
- Hotels – 8
- Total capacity: 54,724 individuals
Springfield Real Estate Co.
1919 to 1932
- Developed residential and commercial real estate in Springfield, Delaware County, along his trolley company’s lines.