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Settled in the 1680s.

The History of Bala Cynwyd

Original Bala School, constructed in 1888 at the corner of Union and Bala Avenues

The oldest commercial district in our area — and the original village of Bala — straddles the bridge over the old Pennsylvania Railroad tracks, originally belonging to the Columbia Railroad and now part of the SEPTA Cynwyd Line. Bala Avenue is an extension of this original town center, with several early 20th century historic structures still intact, such as the Bala Theater. Today, our main street contains an eclectic collection of retail shops, restaurants, services and a playground.  The remainder of Cynwyd’s original commercial district extends south along Montgomery Avenue as part of the Merion-Cynwyd Commercial District and is replete with delicatessens, coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants.

Bala Cynwyd lies in the Welsh Tract of Pennsylvania and was settled in the 1680s by Welsh Quakers, shortly after William Penn’s landing in Pennsylvania. Our area was originally founded as two separate villages, named for the towns of Bala and Cynwyd in Wales. Comprised primarily of residential houses and apartments, Bala Cynwyd is also home to two commercial corridors, several parks, including the Cynwyd Heritage Trail, as well numerous historic landmarks. Our neighborhoods include some of Lower Merion Township’s oldest and finest stone mansions, built mainly from 1880 through the 1920s.

Toll Gate No 3, at the intersection of Old Lancaster Road and Montgomery Avenue, circa 1900
Merion Friends Meeting, the oldest building in Lower Merion Township, built 1695.
Bala Cynwyd Library, on Levering Mill Rd, circa 1930s

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