Callowhill Depot

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Callowhill Depot

Postby train2 » Mon Dec 12, 2016 7:36 pm

In all my visits to Philly, I have never visited any of the car barns. I have some interest in stopping by to shoot some photos at Callowhill to see some of the Route 15 cars coming and going. Is there any pattern to when cars came and go to the depot? Is it only before and after rush hour? At the end of an employee's tour, do they return to the barn? I suspect the tour of duty is not the main criteria, as I have seen operators change out during rides. So any helpful info appreciated.

What is the realistic assessment of the neighborhood? Safe, or otherwise?
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Re: Callowhill Depot

Postby jwhite07 » Fri Dec 16, 2016 11:49 am

I visited Callowhill Depot in 1991 to attend a streetcar charter that was originating there. Not familiar with the city or exactly where Callowhill Depot was located, I at least knew that Route 15 was based out of Callowhill, so I figured I'd catch the streetcar and ask the operator. So I took the BSL from Center City to Girard Station and went upstairs in search of the trolley. After letting several buses signed up for the 15 go by I gathered that streetcars weren't operating that day and resigned myself to the next bus to come along (this was just prior to the 13 year era of permanent bustitution, but the line was unofficially bustituted very frequently beforehand, too). The driver was pretty skeptical about the reason I was asking him how to get to the depot, but he said he'd let me know where to get off the bus and which direction to walk. He did as promised and eventually I got to the depot and successfully found and joined up with the charter group.

I do recall being VERY uncomfortable about the area around Girard Station, and somewhat less so but still quite uneasy around Callowhill Depot. Part of it was general unease brought by my unfamiliarity with the city and how to get around it, part of it was I had a couple hundred dollars worth of camera stuff with me, and the rest was - no offense to anyone here - my opinion of what I saw of north and west Philadelphia is that it is just not a nice place in general, and riding a bus about four miles along Girard Avenue to a bus and trolley depot probably wasn't ever going to be listed in any guidebook as a scenic journey filled with highlights of the best of the city. You may or may not agree.

Having said that, Philadelphia's streetcar and rapid transit network is pretty cool nonetheless. Back when I first visited there were CTA and even a few single MFSL "Almond Joy" cars running on the Norristown Line, the rest of the Almond Joys still running on the el, still plenty of PCCs on the roster for the soon-to-be-doomed routes 15, 23, and 56 (I was able to ride at least a part of all three), and the Kawasaki LRVs were only ten years old and still in their original wide stripe paint scheme. Today it's a little less interesting on the Norristown Line and the MFSL, but some of the PCCs still survive and are now "LRVs in PCC clothing" and the K cars are approaching vintage status themselves at 35 years old and as far as I can tell are still soldiering on strongly.
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