Change is the Only Constant on the Main Line

Where something once stood, another has taken its place. And so it goes, from Ardmore to Downingtown.

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No matter where I live, nearly every day, it’s been a habit of mine to walk the streets and neighborhoods surrounding my home. I’ve always just thought of myself as someone who likes to walk about. But, one day, I heard the word flâneur and liked all it connoted: “A person who walks the city in order to experience it,” according to French essayist Charles Baudelaire.

Others describe the flâneur as an urban observer, one who keenly notices his or her surroundings—or, more unkindly, a gadabout or loafer who has nothing better to do than stroll about.

One thing that can fill me with low-grade distress, though, is change. Which, on the Main Line, seems to happen with increasing regularity. Places that we’re used to—and even fond of—are suddenly torn down or replaced with something inferior to the original.

I recently tried to go to the new Walgreens in Bryn Mawr, and it was gone. Not that I was that attached to this Walgreens, but I’d been attached to the Barnes & Noble that preceded it. When that closed, I felt the seismic shift predicted by business experts. It was true: Bookstores were closing.

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