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Lower Merion Township
Harriton House as it appeared ca. 1919.
"A First-Class Township"
Location of Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County
|Country||United States of America|
|• Total||23.9 sq mi (62 km2)|
|• Land||23.7 sq mi (61 km2)|
|• Water||0.2 sq mi (1 km2)|
|Elevation||200 ft (60 m)|
|• Density||2,419/sq mi (934.2/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Area code||610 and 484|
Lower Merion Township is a township in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and part of the Pennsylvania Main Line. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the township had a total population of 57,825. Lower Merion has the 5th highest per-capita income and the 12th highest median household income in the country with a population of 50,000 or more.
The name Merion originates with the county of Merioneth in north Wales. Merioneth is an English-language translation of the Welsh Meirionnydd.
Lower Merion, along with Upper Darby, Haverford, Cheltenham together form as the major inner ring suburbs of Philadelphia.
Lower Merion Township was first settled in 1682 by Welsh Quakers who were granted a tract of land (the Welsh Tract) by William Penn. In 1713, Lower Merion was established as an independent Township with about 52 landholders and tenants. In 1900, the Township was incorporated as a Township of the First Class. Lower Merion is home to the oldest continuously used place of worship in the United States, the Merion Friends Meeting House, used continuously since 1695.
The Mill Creek Historic District, and Seville Theatre are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Green Hill Farms was added in 2011.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 23.9 square miles (61.8 km²), of which, 23.7 square miles (61.4 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (0.67%) is water.
The Township is bounded by the City of Philadelphia, the Boroughs of Conshohocken and West Conshohocken, and the Townships of Upper Merion and Whitemarsh in Montgomery County and by the Townships of Haverford and Radnor in Delaware County. The Borough of Narberth, a separate political entity of one-half square mile, is completely surrounded by the Township.
Forming the Township's southern border is City Avenue (U.S. Route 1) separating it from the City of Philadelphia. Along City Ave, starting with the Schuylkill Expressway and continuing on to Lord & Taylor at Belmont Avenue in Bala Cynwyd, is what is known as the "Golden Mile" which also includes the radio and television studios of WCAU, the Exxon Building, the Fox Building and the Germantown Savings Bank Building. In back of these buildings are the One-Ninety-One Condominiums and the Bala Cynwyd Plazas.
The Township's eastern border is along the Schuylkill River which is paralleled by the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76), a limited access roadway that connects to Philadelphia and the Valley Forge Interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The famed Mid-County Interchange is located just outside the Township.
Other highways serving the Township are U.S. Route 30 and Pennsylvania Routes 23 and 320.
Before European settlement, Lower Merion's dense forest was home to bears, cougars, wolves, rattlesnakes, otters, beavers, weasels, turkeys, grouses, woodland bison, trout, and bald eagles. When Europeans arrived, they began cutting down the forests, chasing away much of the wildlife. After World War Two, Lower Merion transformed from a farming township to a suburban one, and wildlife changed accordingly. Today, red foxes, white-footed mice, horned owls, skunks, raccoons, crayfish, songbirds, butterflies, and white-tailed deer populate the township.
- Ardmore (also in Delaware County)
- Bala Cynwyd
- Belmont Hills
- Bryn Mawr (also in Delaware County)
- Haverford (also in Delaware County)
- Overbrook Hills
- Penn Valley
- Penn Wynne
- Rosemont (also in Delaware County)
- Villanova (also in Delaware County)
As of the 2010 census, the township was 85.7% White, 5.6% Black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 6.0% Asian, and 1.9% were two or more races. 3.0% of the population were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry.
As of the census of 2000, there were 59,850 people, 22,868 households, and 15,024 families residing in the township. The population density was 2,526.1 people per square mile (975.4/km²). There were 23,699 housing units at an average density of 1,000.3/sq mi (386.2/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 90.30% White, 4.50% African American, 0.08% Native American, 3.42% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.50% from other races and 1.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.60% of the population.
There were 22,868 households, out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.7% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 28.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the township the population was spread out, with 21.7% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 23.0% from 25 to 44, 26.2% from 45 to 64 and 18.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 83.5 males. For every 100 women aged 18 and over, there were 78.7 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $86,373, and the median income for a family was $115,694 (these figures had risen to $114,608 and $148,123 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Men had a median income of $77,692 versus $43,793 for women. The per capita income for the township was $55,526. About 1.9% of families and 4.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.8% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.
School laptop webcam spying incident
In 2010, the township received national media attention when a student filed a lawsuit after a school administrator used the webcam of a school issued laptop to spy on the student while the student was in his home. See Robbins v. Lower Merion School District for more information.
In the case of Harriton High, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) believe that it constitutes an infringement, and filed an amicus brief in support of the victim.
Historic street signs
In 2012, the Federal Highway Administration modified the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices which would have required the replacement of Lower Merion's historic street signs, some of which dating back to the early 1910s. After some campaigning by local residents and by Senator Pat Toomey, the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners declared, via an ordinance, the entire Lower Merion as a historic district and received a waiver from Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
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