Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania
|Elevation||302 ft (92 m)|
|- summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|Area code||610, 484|
Bala Cynwyd (pronunciation: / / BAL-ə-KIN-wuud Welsh: ['bala ˈkənwɨd]) is a community in Lower Merion Township which is located on the Main Line in southeastern Pennsylvania, bordering the western edge of Philadelphia at US Route 1 (City Avenue). It was originally two separate towns, Bala and Cynwyd, but is commonly treated as a single community. This came about when a single US Post Office served both towns (the "Bala Cynwyd" Branch) using ZIP code 19004. Bala and Cynwyd are currently served by separate stations on SEPTA's Cynwyd Line of Regional Rail.
Bala Cynwyd lies in the Welsh Tract of Pennsylvania and was settled in the 1680s by Welsh Quakers, who named it after the town of Bala and the village of Cynwyd in Wales. Welsh pronunciation: [bála kʌ́nʊid]. A mixed residential community made up predominantly of single-family detached homes, it extends west of the Philadelphia city limits represented by City Line Avenue from Old Lancaster Road at 54th Street west to Meeting House Lane and then along Manayunk and Conshohocken State Roads north to Mary Watersford Road, then east along Belmont Avenue back to City Line. This large residential district contains some of Lower Merion's oldest and finest stone mansions, built mainly from 1880 through the 1920s and located in the sycamore-lined district between Montgomery Avenue and Levering Mill Road, as well as split level tract houses built east of Manayunk Road just after World War II.
The oldest commercial district and the original center of Bala Cynwyd straddles the bridge over the old Pennsylvania Railroad tracks, originally belonging to the Columbia Railroad and now part of the SEPTA Cynwyd Line, along Montgomery Avenue at Bala Avenue. This district, long on the National Register of Historic Places, was settled shortly after William Penn's landing in Pennsylvania in 1682 and contains the village's oldest commercial buildings, some dating to the earliest years of the 19th century. Bala Avenue itself is an extension of this original town center and comprises a specialized commercial district of its own more than a century old; it has long been known for its children's clothing stores, women's dress and consignment shops, the Bala Theater and a number of small restaurants. The remainder of Bala Cynwyd's original commercial district extends south along Montgomery Avenue as part of the Bala Cynwyd-Merion Commercial District and is coextensive with the commercial center of Merion, with its popular delicatessens and restaurants.
In 1952, WCAU-TV, channel 10 built its headquarters at the corner of City Avenue and Monument Road. Since then, Bala Cynwyd has increasingly become identified with the home of the Philadelphia region's major media outlets. WCAU was owned by CBS from 1958 until September 1995, when it was traded to its current owner, NBC. In addition to channel 10, three successors to WCAU, rival WPVI-TV, owned by ABC is found directly across City Avenue. Bala Cynwyd's AM and FM stations include CBS Radio's WOGL-FM, WTEL and WPHT-AM, located on the seventh floor of Two Bala Plaza and Greater Media's WBEN-FM, WMGK-FM, WMMR-FM and WPEN, which are housed on the third and fourth floor of One Bala Plaza. Clear Channel Radio's WDAS-FM, WDAS, WUSL, WRFF, WISX, and WIOQ FM stations are located on Presidential Boulevard, as is independently owned WBEB. Beasley Broadcasting's WXTU, WZMP and WWDB are on the third floor of 555 Presidential Boulevard at the foot of City Avenue. It is the corporate home of Entercom and the Susquehanna International Group.
The Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center, completed in 1957, lies a half mile to the south of the village center, bordering Philadelphia on City Avenue. Its major outlets are Lord & Taylor, Acme Markets, Olive Garden, US Mailroom and LA Fitness; Saks Fifth Avenue is located a block to the East.
The village is home to churches of many religions. The oldest of these is Saint John's Episcopal Church on Levering Mill Road, founded in 1863. Saint Matthias Catholic Church is also found one block south of Montgomery on Bryn Mawr Avenue. Bala Cynwyd has also drawn a number of Modern Orthodox and Conservative Jews who live within walking distance of Lower Merion Synagogue and Congregation Adath Israel on Old Lancaster Road where Bala Cynwyd meets Merion. Churches of other denominations are located in nearby Narberth, Wynnewood, Merion, and Wynnefield/Overbrook.
The Neighborhood Club of Bala Cynwyd, established in 1906, works to preserve the residential character of the neighborhood and promote civic welfare and community spirit. It sponsors an annual Independence Day celebration on July 4 which begins in front of the Union Fire Association on Montgomery Avenue and ends at the Bala Cynwyd Playground. The parade features neighborhood children riding decorated bicycles, marchers in costumes, clowns, floats, fire trucks, police, and public officials.
The Lower Merion Historical Society recently relocated its headquarters from Ashbridge House in Rosemont to the ancient Cynwyd Academy building, adjacent to Bala Cynwyd Middle School on Bryn Mawr Avenue in Cynwyd.
Bala Cynwyd is served by the Lower Merion School District with its headquarters in Ardmore. Public school children of area residents attend the Cynwyd Elementary School on Levering Mill Road, Bala Cynwyd Middle School on North Bryn Mawr Avenue, and Lower Merion High School in Ardmore.
Another school in Bala is Kohelet Yeshiva High School on Old Lancaster Road. The private, Catholic Merion Mercy and Waldron Mercy Academies are only a quarter mile up Montgomery Avenue in Merion. The bilingual French International School of Philadelphia, on North Highland Avenue, teaches approximately 320 children from pre-kindergarten (K3) to eighth grade in French and English.
The Bala Cynwyd Public Library, part of the six-branch Lower Merion Library System, occupies a modern facility on Old Lancaster Road. It is home to more than 221,000 items and features up-to-date computer facilities and a dedicated children's library on the second floor. The system as a whole, with its central library located at Bryn Mawr's Ludington Memorial Library on South Bryn Mawr Avenue, is home to more than 1.4 million items and stands in the 99th percentile nationwide for annual resident visits and volumes per resident capita.
- Hobey Baker, namesake of NCAA men's hockey award
- Kobe Bryant, NBA Basketball player, attended Bala Cynwyd Middle School and Lower Merion High School
- Paul Cava, photographer, resides here
- Robert Fagles, translator and Lower Merion High School graduate
- Stan Fine, magazine gag cartoonist
- Bob Garfield, co-host of On the Media on National Public Radio
- Alexander Haig, United States Army general and later United States Secretary of State
- Skip James, blues musician, is buried here
- John Ernst Worrell Keely, inventor, is buried here
- Mirah, singer-songwriter
- Julie Nathanson, voice actress, hails here
- Samuel Proof, starred in Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! on the Adult Swim network.
- Jack Rose, guitarist
- Ben Shibe, historic sporting goods and baseball executive
- Antonio Guiteras Holmes, a leading politician in Cuba during the 1930s, was born in Bala Cynwyd. A proponent of revolutionary socialism, he participated in the radical government installed after the overthrow of the autocratic right wing Cuban President Gerardo Machado y Morales in 1933.
Places of interest
- West Laurel Hill Cemetery, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
- The Cynwyd Heritage Trail is a 2-mile linear park and rail-to-trail that connects Lower Merion Township to Manayunk through the Manayunk Bridge over the Schuylkill River
- Bala Cynwyd was hometown to the fictional character Vida Boheme, a drag queen played by Patrick Swayze in the 1995 movie To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.
- Bala Cynwyd was the location of a home invasion in the 2000 movie Unbreakable.
- Bean, Theodore W. (1884). Montgomery County: The First Two Hundred Years. Philadelphia: Everts and Peck.
- Jones, Dick (2001). The First Three Hundred: The Amazing and Rich History of Lower Merion. Ardmore: The Lower Merion Historical Society.
- Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Our Students." French International School of Philadelphia. Retrieved on May 14, 2014.
- Bob Garfield, "The Paleozoic Internet", On the Media, June 10, 2011.
||Belmont Hills, Gladwyne||Philadelphia||Pencoyd, Philadelphia|
|Merion, Penn Wynne||Philadelphia||Philadelphia|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Bala Cynwyd.|
- Bala Cynwyd Business District
- Lower Merion School District
- Lower Merion Library System
- Lower Merion Historical Society
- The Neighborhood Club of Bala Cynwyd
- The Cynwyd Heritage Trail
- The French International School of Philadelphia
- Lower Merion Synagogue, Bala Cynwyd
- An interactive aerial perspective photo from Virtual Earth