Author of ‘What Killed Downtown?’ Considers Future Possibilities for Norristown on Its 210th Birthday

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michael tolle book norristown
Image of proposed Norristown building via MM Partners, LRK Inc., Philadelphia Business Journal.

As Norristown is celebrating its 210th birthday, Michael Tolle, the author of What Killed Downtown?: Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls, looks at the town’s past to share advice about its future, writes Gordon Glantz for The Times Herald.

Norristown’s history is tightly connected to the railroad, which was directly responsible for the town’s early growth and prosperity. However, while some suburbs started to blossom after World War II, as a railroad town, Norristown started to lose its grip, especially without direct access to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

However things are looking up again as Lafayette Street is being upgraded and linked with the Pa. Turnpike and the Dannehower Bridge. Tolle believes this will help Norristown position itself as a residential location for more prosperous residents and not an industrial or commercial one.

“For decades, there has been no incentive to settle in Norristown if one works somewhere accessible by the Interstates, as Norristown itself is not,” he said.  “A connection to the Turnpike is needed to change that situation, and attract new, more prosperous residents seeking an alternative to housing developments.”

Read more about Michael Tolle, the author of What Killed Downtown?: Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls, in The Times Herald.

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