Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania

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Lower Merion
Lower Merion Township
Lower Merion Township building in Ardmore
Lower Merion Township building in Ardmore
Flag of Lower Merion
Official seal of Lower Merion
"A First-Class Township"
Location of Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County
Location of Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County
Lower Merion is located in Pennsylvania
Lower Merion
Lower Merion
Location of Lower Merion Township in Pennsylvania
Coordinates: 39°59′00″N 75°15′59″W / 39.98333°N 75.26639°W / 39.98333; -75.26639Coordinates: 39°59′00″N 75°15′59″W / 39.98333°N 75.26639°W / 39.98333; -75.26639
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Montgomery
 • Township ManagerErnie McNeely
 • Board PresidentTodd Sinai (D)
 • Total23.83 sq mi (61.73 km2)
 • Land23.61 sq mi (61.16 km2)
 • Water0.22 sq mi (0.57 km2)
200 ft (60 m)
 • Total63,633
 • Estimate 
 • Density2,695/sq mi (1,040/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Area code610 and 484
FIPS code42-091-44976

Lower Merion Township is a township in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. It is part of the Philadelphia Main Line. The township's name originates with the county of Merioneth in north Wales. Merioneth is an English-language transcription of the Welsh Meirionnydd.

Lower Merion is one of the major inner ring suburbs of Philadelphia, along with Upper Darby, Haverford, and Cheltenham. With a population of 63,633, Lower Merion Township is the ninth most populous city, town or borough in Pennsylvania as of the 2020 U.S. census.[3]

Lower Merion Township is located 58.7 miles (94.5 km) south of Allentown, Pennsylvania's third largest city, and 11.9 miles (19.2 km) northwest of Philadelphia, the state's largest city.


Map of Lower Merion Township
Lower Merion street signs
Harriton House as it appeared c. 1919

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.

On April 4, 1991, U.S. Senator John Heinz died while as a passenger in a Piper Aerostar propeller aircraft when it collided with a Bell 412 helicopter over the Merion Elementary School in the Merion air disaster. The other four people in both aircraft also died, and the falling debris from the aircraft also caused the death of two elementary students and injured five others.[4]

The Mill Creek Historic District, and Seville Theatre are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[5] Green Hill Farms was added in 2011.

In 2010, the township received national media attention when a student filed a lawsuit, Robbins v. Lower Merion School District, after a school administrator used the webcam of a school-issued laptop to spy on the student while the student was in his home. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed an amicus brief in support of the student.

In 2012, the Federal Highway Administration modified the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices in a way that would have required the replacement of Lower Merion's historic street signs, some of which date 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.[6][7][8]


According to the U.S. 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) is land and 0.2 square mile (0.4 km2) (0.67%) is water.

The township is bounded by the Wynnefield Heights, Belmont Village, Wynnefield, and Overbrook communities in 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 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"[9][10] which also includes the radio and television studios of WCAU, the Exxon Building, the Fox Building and the Germantown Savings Bank Building. Behind those buildings are the One-Ninety-One Condominiums and the Bala Cynwyd Plazas.

The township's eastern border is along the Schuylkill River.

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 II, Lower Merion transformed from a farming township to a suburban area, and wildlife changed accordingly. Today, red foxes, white-footed mice, horned owls, skunks, raccoons, crayfish, songbirds, butterflies, and white-tailed deer populate the township.[11]

Unincorporated communities[edit]


Lower Merion straddles the boundary between a hot-summer humid continental climate (Dfa) and a humid subtropical climate (Cfa). The hardiness zone is 7a. Average monthly temperatures in Gladwyne range from 31.7 °F in January to 76.5 °F in July, in Bryn Mawr they range from 31.4 °F in January to 76.4 °F in July, and at the former location of NBC 10 studios in Bala Cynwyd they range from 32.6 °F in January to 77.4 °F in July. [1]


Historical population

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.[15]

As of the census[16] 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[17]). 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.

Government and politics[edit]

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2020 20.7% 8,662 78.6% 32,838
2016 21.2% 7,841 75.5% 27,906
2012 33.4% 11,945 65.7% 23,516
2008 29.1% 10,747 70.4% 26,006
2004 33.0% 11,990 66.7% 24,262
2000 32.0% 10,657 65.9% 21,946
1996 35.1% 10,774 59.1% 18,178
1992 35.6% 12,249 54.7% 18,814

Lower Merion is a first-class township with 14 commissioners elected by ward.[18]

  • Daniel Bernheim (D), Ward 1[19]
  • Joshua Grimes (D), Ward 2[20]
  • Michael F. McKeon (D), Ward 3[21]
  • Anthony C. Stevenson (D), Ward 4[22]
  • Ray A. Courtney (D), Ward 5[23]
  • Andrew S. Gavrin (D), Ward 6[24]
  • Sean P. Whalen (D), Ward 7[25]
  • Shawn Kraemer (D), Ward 8[26]
  • David F. McComb (D), Ward 9[27]
  • V. Scott Zelov (R), Ward 10[28]
  • Tiffany O'Neill (R), Ward 11[29]
  • Todd M. Sinai (D), Ward 12, President[30]
  • Gilda L. Kramer (D), Ward 13[31]
  • Rick Churchill (D), Ward 14[32]


The Township is part of the Fourth Congressional District (represented by Rep. Madeleine Dean), the Fifth Congressional District (represented by Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon), the 149th State House District (represented by Rep. Tim Briggs), the 148th State House District (represented by Rep. Mary Jo Daley), the 194th State House District (represented by Rep. Pam DeLissio) and the 17th State Senate District (represented by Sen. Amanda Cappelletti).


Roads and highways[edit]

The Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) eastbound in Lower Merion Township

As of 2018 there were 240.08 miles (386.37 km) of public roads in Lower Merion Township, of which 35.14 miles (56.55 km) were maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and 204.94 miles (329.82 km) were maintained by the township.[34]

Several major highways traverse Lower Merion Township, including the Schuylkill Expressway (Interstate 76), "Blue Route" (Interstate 476), U.S. Route 1, U.S. Route 30, Pennsylvania Route 320 and Pennsylvania Route 23. The Schuylkill Expressway follows a northwest-southeast route along the northeastern border of the township, adjacent to its namesake river, while I-476 and PA 320 both clip the far northwest corner of the township. US 1 follows City Avenue along the southeastern border of the township, while US 30 follows Lancaster Avenue across southern portions of the township. Finally, PA 23 follows Conshohocken State Road through the heart of Lower Merion.

Public transportation[edit]

A westbound Paoli/Thorndale Line train departing Bryn Mawr Station

Lower Merion Township is the heart of the affluent Philadelphia Main Line series of suburban communities, named after the "Main Line" of the former Pennsylvania Railroad that runs through the township. Now known as SEPTA Regional Rail's Paoli/Thorndale Line, the rail line has station stops in Lower Merion in the following communities within the township:

SEPTA Regional Rail's Cynwyd Line, with weekday service, has stops at:

SEPTA operates the Norristown High Speed Line between Norristown Transportation Center and 69th Street Transportation Center through the western part of Lower Merion Township with stops located at Matsonford and County Line, with additional stops located just outside the township in Delaware County. SEPTA provides bus service to Lower Merion Township along City Bus routes 1, 44, 52, 65, and G and Suburban Bus routes 103, 105, and 106, serving points of interest in the township and offering connections to Philadelphia and other suburbs.[35]


Top employers[edit]

According to a Lower Merion Township bond document, the top employers in 2015 were:[36]

# Employer # of Employees Community
1 Main Line Health
(Lankenau Medical Center and Bryn Mawr Hospital)
4,036 Wynnewood and Bryn Mawr
2 Lower Merion School District 1,727 Ardmore
3 Bryn Mawr College 1,170 Bryn Mawr
4 Susquehanna International Group 1,037 Bala Cynwyd
5 Saint Joseph's University 733 Merion
6 Maguire Insurance Agency 565 Bala Cynwyd
7 Great Valley Health 507 Bryn Mawr
8 Township of Lower Merion 490 Ardmore
9 Maxim Healthcare Services 429 Bala Cynwyd
10 Rosemont College 415 Rosemont


Primary and secondary schools[edit]

Public schools[edit]

Lower Merion High School's pre-renovation building

Pupils living in the Lower Merion Township attend schools in the Lower Merion School District unless they go to a private school. The educational roots of the township stretch back to the Lower Merion Academy, one of the first public schools in the country.

There are six elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools (Lower Merion and Harriton High Schools). Students are split between schools depending on location of residence.

Notable graduates[edit]

Basketball star Kobe Bryant attended Lower Merion High School. He led the Aces to the state championship in 1996. Producer Marshall Herskovitz was also once a student at Lower Merion High School. Author Lisa Scottoline graduated from Lower Merion High School. Ronald Reagan's first secretary of state, Alexander Haig, graduated from Lower Merion High School, as did Robert Fagles. Lawrence Summers, the former president of Harvard University and the 71st Secretary of the Treasury, graduated from Harriton High School.

Actor David Boreanaz attended Rosemont School of the Holy Child in the Rosemont section of Lower Merion Township. His father, Dave Roberts, is a weatherman for WPVI-TV's Action News in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Private schools[edit]

Rosemont School of the Holy Child, located in Rosemont and in Lower Merion Township, is affiliated with but not governed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The school is adjacent to Rosemont College.

Other private schools in the area include The Shipley School, The Baldwin School, Waldron Mercy Academy, The Haverford School, The Agnes Irwin School, Friends Central School, French International School of Philadelphia, Kohelet Yeshiva High School, The Mesivta High School, Caskey Torah Academy, and other schools outside the area.

Colleges and universities[edit]

Rosemont College's Main Building
Bryn Mawr College's Pembroke Hall

Bryn Mawr College, Harcum College, Rosemont College, and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary are located in Lower Merion Township. The campus of Saint Joseph's University straddles the city line between Lower Merion and Philadelphia,[37] while Haverford College straddles the lines between Lower Merion and Haverford Townships.[38][39]

Miscellaneous education[edit]

The Japanese Language School of Philadelphia (JLSP, フィラデルフィア日本語補習授業校 Firaderufia Nihongo Hoshū Jugyō Kō), a supplementary Japanese school, holds its classes at the Friends Central School (FCS) in Wynnewood and in Lower Merion Township.[40][41] Residents are also serviced by the Lower Merion Library System.

Historic features[edit]

NRHP Historic Districts[edit]

Notable buildings and structures[edit]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Aug 14, 2017.
  2. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  3. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Lower Merion township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania". www.census.gov. Retrieved 2022-06-10.
  4. ^ "The Free Lance-Star - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  6. ^ "Resolution clears way for Lower Merion's historic street signs to stay - Main Line Times - Main Line Media News". Archived from the original on 2016-03-18. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  7. ^ "Update: It's official Lower Merion will keep historic street-signs - Main Line Times - Main Line Media News". Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  8. ^ "Township Calendar | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  9. ^ http://articles.philly.com/1999-12-21/news/25479431_1_bicycle-patrol-program-report-crimes-city-avenue[bare URL]
  10. ^ "Lower Merion Township : Township Economy and Demographics". Archived from the original on 2016-04-22. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
  11. ^ Jones, Dick, ed. The First 300: the amazing and rich history of Lower Merion. Ardmore, PA: The Lower Merion Historical Society, 2000.
  12. ^ American FactFinder Archived 2012-10-19 at archive.today. Factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  13. ^ "DVRPC > Site Search". Archived from the original on 2019-04-09. Retrieved 2016-04-11.
  14. ^ "Census 2020".
  15. ^ Census 2010: Pennsylvania. Usatoday.Com. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  16. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  17. ^ American FactFinder Archived 2020-02-11 at archive.today. Factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  18. ^ "Commissioners | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  19. ^ "Daniel S. Bernheim, Esq., President | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  20. ^ "Joshua L. Grimes, Esq. | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  21. ^ "Michael F. McKeon, Esq. | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  22. ^ "Anthony C. Stevenson, Ed. D. | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  23. ^ "Ray A. Courtney | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  24. ^ "Andrew S. Gavrin | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  25. ^ "Sean P. Whalen, Esq. | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  26. ^ "Shawn Kraemer | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  27. ^ "David F. McComb, Esq. | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  28. ^ "V. Scott Zelov | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  29. ^ "Tiffany O'Neill | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  30. ^ "Todd M. Sinai | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  31. ^ "Gilda L. Kramer, Esq. | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  32. ^ "Rick Churchill | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  33. ^ www.LowerMerion.org
  34. ^ "Lower Merion Township map" (PDF). PennDOT. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  35. ^ SEPTA Official Transit & Street Map Suburban (PDF) (Map). SEPTA. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  36. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-06-24. Retrieved 2016-06-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  37. ^ "2020 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP: Lower Merion township, PA" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. p. 4 (PDF p. 5/5). Retrieved 2022-12-19. Saint Joseph's Univ
  38. ^ "2020 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP: Lower Merion township, PA" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. p. 3 (PDF p. 4/5). Retrieved 2022-12-19. Haverford College
  39. ^ "2020 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP: Haverford township, PA" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2022-12-19. Haverford Colg
  40. ^ "Directions Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine." Japanese Language School of Philadelphia. Retrieved on March 30, 2014. "The Japanese Language School of Philadelphia utilizes the campus of: Friends Central School 1101 City Avenue, Wynnewood, PA"
  41. ^ "Community Profile Archived 2015-02-02 at the Wayback Machine." Lower Merion Township. Retrieved on April 30, 2014. (contains maps of Lower Merion).
  42. ^ http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/RC/2015/S0027.pdf https://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/NC/2015/20150127.pdf

External links[edit]

Preceded by Bordering communities
of Philadelphia
Succeeded by