[DATESTONE OF THE OLD NEWTOWN ROAD BRIDGE]
Remains of rural neighborhoods can be found in the city’s shallow valleys and watersheds, often on account of their location with the Fairmount Park system. While the city ruthlessly demolished many of the old mills, tanneries, dyeing works that lined the Wissahickon and Pennypack creeks, remnants of these neighborhoods encased by parkland have been insulated from the passage of time.
[LAGRANGE NEIGHBORHOOD ACCORDING TO ELLET’S 1843 MAP, RED DOT INDICATES OLD NEWTOWN RD. BRIDGE]
We see this phenomenon is the case of the Old Newtown Road Bridge pictured above, the span once integral to the functioning of the LaGrange print works and neighborhood, located roughly where Bustleton Pike crossed the Pennypack Creek. A wide and commodious bridge, the builder’s stone testifies that it was constructed by “Philadelphia County” — that legal nullity that existed before the city and county were fused in 1854. While not as impressive as the Bustleton Ave. Bridge which crossed the creek south of the present highway bridge, the Old Newtown Road Bridge was probably built at the behest of the print works industrialists looking for a good outlet for their products.The bridge probably saw its share of wagons creaking with fabrics dyed and printed with a variety of inks on their way down the Bustleton and Smithfield Turnpike to Frankford for shipment by rail.