Historical Society to Host Talk on the Decline of Norristown's Main Street

Former Historical Society staff member and author Michael E. Tolle will discuss the history and decline of Norristown's shopping district.

Downtown Norristown was once the destination shopping district for central Montgomery County, but years of decline and neglect have left it a shell of its former glory.

Author Michael E. Tolle will discuss the history of the district and some of the elements that led to its decline at a public discussion on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Historical Society of Montgomery County, 1654 DeKalb Street in Norristown. Tolle, a former staff member of the society, will also sign copies of his book, What Killed Downtown? Norristown,Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls.

For more information, call 610-272-0297 or e-mail contactus@hsmcpa.org.

Tim Armstrong is a DICK January 08, 2013 at 09:01 PM
King of Prussia Mall, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, amazon.com
derrick January 09, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Why don't they ask the once who had business in town? And why they closed or took businesses elsewhere? Why is the businesses ythat are still here can't get help,and why the business is not devided between businesses that are from town.
TiTimoTiTimothy thy January 09, 2013 at 01:21 AM
It's called most of the people in Norristown collect entitlements and don't have discretionary income to spend. Hence, that makes for higher crime, cheaper housing, and drives the hard working people with discretionary income away to shop elsewhere. Don't need to write a book to explain that.
Rochelle Griffin Culbreath January 13, 2013 at 01:06 AM
Interesting you say this since the current Norristown Council has a focus on bringing new business to town as well as a focus on the Arts. The talk was directed toward the research Mr. Tolle did for his book. It clearly indicates that Norristown was already headed downward before the Malls ever were built. Case in point. It's not the issue of parking, traffic or lack of business. Norristown has to address the people who are living in the rental units and those living under the radar. Businesses are not going to come to a place that has people who are not able to spend money. The above comment from TiTmoTiTimothy thy speaks directly to the issues. But since our elected officials are not focused on this...one might argue this book offers facts, research and good commentary that suggests we should be working on addressing the issues of the people to get them to have disposable income to shop at the businesses they are proposing. Or go to the shows the new arts hill theater is creating. My personal fear is that this government is not interested in those people. They have a plan to over look the people who live here ..working to bring in (gentrification) new people to replace them. If this is the plan...It's sad for many reasons but also very far reaching since most people don't seem to be leaving.
Jimmorris January 13, 2013 at 03:10 AM
@Ms Culbreath.....A high concentration of impoverished residents is not a good thing. A little gentrification can go along way in helping bolster the local economy and help our tax base. Gentrification should not have a negative connotation, but should rather be supported, if we want Norristown to rebound. The quality of life in Norristown has deteriorated below an acceptable level for most, and because of this we have experienced a mass exodus of residents heading for the suburbs. The demise of our downtown is one thing but the more important question is how do we recover. From my readings it is quite obvious their is turmoil in Council which can only complicate our recovery. As well, the Municipality is not known for a business friendly attitude and does nothing to change. The people in power want to pontificate and tell us how smart they are but do nothing to turn our town around. We have seen the resurgence of West Conshohocken, Conshohocken, Bridgeport, Phoenixville, Ambler and many surrounding downtowns but Norristown continues to wallow in its own fecal matter. Who could imagine a downtown parallel to a riverfront just 21 miles from Philly could not get out of its own way? It can only be the fault of the leadership or lack thereof!


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