On Thursday SEPTA and Philadelphia city officials marked a significant milestone of the Market-Frankford Line with a special celebration for the 100th anniversary of the Frankford section of the MFL.
“For 100 years the Frankford section of Market-Frankford Line has connected Northeast Philly with Center City and today we are so proud to mark this special milestone,” said Leslie S. Richards, SEPTA’s CEO and general manager. We are grateful to the nearly 1,000 SEPTA employees who work tirelessly to operate and maintain what has become our most heavily used line.”
The original Market Elevated Railway Line opened March 4, 1907, with approximately six miles of track for service from east to west from 69th Street to City Hall at 15th Street. This Frankford extension stretched the Line approximately 7.5 miles from Old City to Bridge Street in Northeast Philadelphia.
Construction of the long-awaited, 6.5-mile Frankford section Line began on September 13, 1915, and took seven years to build at a cost $11.6 million, equivalent to more than $200 million today. For the first time, people living in Northeast Philadelphia had access to Center City in an hour or less. The line boasted innovations like concrete in the support beams to reduce vibration and noise from passing trains, as well as railcar doors that automatically retracted if they bumped a passenger.
“The Market Frankford Line is the lifeblood of the Philadelphia transportation community. As we plan and look towards the future, it is imperative to ensure we continue investing in alternative means of public transportation,” said Pennsylvania State Senator Christine Tartaglione. “Being on hand to help commemorate 100 years of moving Philadelphians affordably, safely and quickly was an absolute delight and I can’t wait to see what the next 100 years holds for the El!”
The route of the “Frankford El” changed slightly in the late 1970s, when the construction of I-95 through Center City led to relocation of the line to the highway median and construction of Spring Garden Station to replace the old Fairmount station. Between 1987 and 2000 SEPTA completely rebuilt the line to improve structural integrity.
“The commitment that SEPTA has, the commitment that its union workers have, those folks are committed to making sure that Philadelphia moves. And when Philadelphia moves, so does all of Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania State Representative Joe Hohenstein.
The entire Market-Frankford Line stretches for 13.5 miles and allows riders to get from Upper Darby/ West Philadelphia to Frankford in lower Northeast Philadelphia in just 45 minutes.
Today, the Market-Frankford Line is SEPTA’s busiest mode of transport and is considered the “workhorse” of the system. Twenty-five of the 28 stations are ADA accessible and next year a request for proposal is expected to be issued to replace rail cars which will help sustain a safe and reliable fleet for future generations.
For more information about the Market-Frankford Line and all of SEPTA’s other modes of transportation visit SEPTA.org.