Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania

Lower Merion Township is a township in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and part of the Philadelphia Main Line. As of the 2016 U.S. Census, the township had a total population of 58,288. 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.[3]

Lower Merion

Lower Merion Township
Harriton House as it appeared ca. 1919.


"A First-Class Township"
Location of Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County
Lower Merion
Location of Lower Merion Township in Pennsylvania
Coordinates: 39°59′00″N 75°15′59″W
Country United States of America
State Pennsylvania
County Montgomery
  Township ManagerErnie McNeely
  Board PresidentDaniel Bernheim
  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)
  Density2,468.37/sq mi (953.02/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
  Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Area code610 and 484
FIPS code42-091-44976

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.[4] 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.[5][6][7]


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 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 (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"[8][9] 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.[10]

Unincorporated communities


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.


Historical population
Est. 201658,288[2]0.8%

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.[13]

As of the census[14] 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[15]). 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

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
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.[16]

  • Daniel Bernheim (D), Ward 1, President[17]
  • Joshua Grimes (D), Ward 2[18]
  • Michael F. McKeon (D), Ward 3[19]
  • Anthony C. Stevenson (D), Ward 4[20]
  • Ray A. Courtney (D), Ward 5[21]
  • Andrew S. Gavrin (D), Ward 6[22]
  • Elizabeth Rogan (D), Ward 7[23]
  • Anna Durbin (D), Ward 8[24]
  • George Manos (D), Ward 9[25]
  • V. Scott Zelov (R), Ward 10[26]
  • Tiffany O'Neill (R), Ward 11[27]
  • Todd M. Sinai (D), Ward 12[28]
  • C. Brian McGuire (D), Ward 13[29]
  • Rick Churchill (D), Ward 14[30]


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. Daylin Leach).

Rail stations

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

The SEPTA Cynwyd Line, with weekday service, has stops at:


Top employers

According to a Lower Merion Township bond document, the top employers in 2015 were:[32]

# Employer # of Employees Community
1 Main Line Hospitals
(Lankenau Hospital 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

Public schools

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

Notable graduates

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

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, and other schools outside the area.

Colleges and universities

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 while Haverford College straddles the lines between Lower Merion and Haverford Townships.

Miscellaneous education

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.[33][34] Residents are also serviced by the Lower Merion Library System.

Historic features

NRHP Historic Districts

Notable buildings and structures

Notable people

See also


  1. "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Aug 14, 2017.
  2. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  3. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/INC910214/4209144976,00
  4. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  5. http://www.mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2012/11/14/main_line_times/news/doc50a39e1409e46905265837.txt?viewmode=fullstory
  6. http://www.mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2011/04/19/main_line_times/news/doc4dad9899a7233877871104.txt?viewmode=fullstory
  7. http://www.lowermerion.org/Index.aspx?page=53&recordid=4312
  8. http://articles.philly.com/1999-12-21/news/25479431_1_bicycle-patrol-program-report-crimes-city-avenue
  9. http://www.lowermerion.org/Index.aspx?page=202
  10. Jones, Dick, ed. The First 300: the amazing and rich history of Lower Merion. Ardmore, PA: The Lower Merion Historical Society, 2000.
  11. American FactFinder Archived 2012-10-19 at Archive.today. Factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  12. http://www.dvrpc.org/data/databull/rdb/db82/appedixa.xls
  13. Census 2010: Pennsylvania. Usatoday.Com. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  14. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  15. American FactFinder. Factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  16. http://lowermerion.org/index.aspx?page=149
  17. "Daniel S. Bernheim, Esq., President | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  18. "Joshua L. Grimes, Esq. | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  19. "Michael F. McKeon, Esq. | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  20. "Anthony C. Stevenson, Ed. D. | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  21. "Ray A. Courtney | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  22. "Andrew S. Gavrin | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  23. "Elizabeth S. Rogan | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  24. "Anna Durbin | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  25. "George T. Manos, AIA | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  26. "V. Scott Zelov | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  27. "Tiffany O'Neill | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  28. "Todd M. Sinai | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  29. "C. Brian McGuire, Vice President | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  30. "Rick Churchill | Lower Merion Township, PA". www.lowermerion.org. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  31. www.LowerMerion.org
  32. http://emma.msrb.org/EP923809-EP717144-EP1118971.pdf
  33. "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"
  34. "Community Profile Archived 2015-02-02 at the Wayback Machine." Lower Merion Township. Retrieved on April 30, 2014. (contains maps of Lower Merion).
  35. http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/RC/2015/S0027.pdf https://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/NC/2015/20150127.pdf
Preceded by
Haverford Township
Delaware County
Bordering communities
of Philadelphia
Succeeded by
Whitemarsh Township
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