A Brief History of Media: 1900 to 1950
Progress at the turn of the century
The beginning of the 1900’s saw a continuation of changes in Media.
- "Horseless Carriages" began to appear and at 216 E. State Street, and the Media Carriage Works began building The Media Automobile, an electric vehicle.
- A new building Media, informally known as the "Castle", was completed for the First National Bank of Media, which is now PNC Bank.
- The Media Ice and Coal Company had a spectacular float in the Semi-Centennial Parade.
- The Media Library was founded in 1901 in a room on the second floor of the Borough Hall.
- More and more homes and businesses were switching from gas lighting to electrical usage.
- Trolley service from 69th Street Terminal began in 1913 and train service increased.
- A new column portico was added to the front of the Courthouse.
- In 1915, a new school was built at the corner of State and Monroe Streets, which served as the high school.
- Also in 1915, Media’s Company H National Guard was activated to constrain Pancho Villa in Mexico, and the Media Fire Company obtained motorized equipment.
As Media progressed in the 1900’s, street and road improvements accelerated, electrical uses increased, and telephones were acquired by both doctors and businesses. Still, horses and wagons carried blocks of ice from Broomall’s Lake and brought in produce from the surrounding farmlands.
War and Influenza
Into this bustling, rural city scene came a call, "Our country needs Media boys to settle a war in Europe." The United States had entered the First World War This task was just about accomplished when Media was dealt another blow: a major flu epidemic. Almost every family in Media and the surrounding area was affected, and the doctors and undertakers were overwhelmed. The Media Hospital, founded in 1909 by Dr. Schoff, had to turn away patients. Several hotels closed.
When the Media boys returned from the great war, Media celebrated with a huge victory parade on State Street.
- "Horseless Carriages", now called automobiles, were growing in number and road improvements progressing.
- The Arcadia Restaurant, opened by Nicholas Theodore in 1917, became the site of one of Media’s early morning coffee clubs. Many of the area’s business leaders, lawyers and politicians would informally gather there.
- Snowden’s department store and others began selling new labor saving devices as most homes became electrified.
- Radio became an educational and entertainment medium.
- Several local livery stables closed. On the site of the stagecoach stop at State and Jackson Streets, a new post office building was erected in 1919. This building later became Borough Hall and is now a restaurant.
- The Pastime Theatre closed and the new Media Theatre opened.
- The Media Title and Trust Company was constructed and opened.
- Media Fire Company put its first ambulance into service.
- Media police became motorized.
The Great Depression and Media’s emergence
Suddenly a bolt from Wall Street hit Media and two banks closed. The Title and Trust Company failed in the Crash of 1929. Some families lost their savings.
Slowly the town climbed back to its feet.
- More automobiles began to appear on the street, and new products graced the shelves of local stores.
- The First National Bank began making more loans ensuring that progress resumed.
- Automobiles finally take over and the remaining livery stables close and are replaced with automobile dealers, ultimately reaching a total of eight.
- Snowden’s, People’s Tire Store, Dawson’s, Higgins and other stores began displaying more new appliances.
- The Media Aviation field experiments with air mail delivery by autogiro.
- Media High School continues its long-standing Thanksgiving Day football game with Chester High School and its tradition of parades down State Street.
- Soda fountains at Ellis drug store, Bossard & Bowers and the School Pharmacy are crowded.
World War Two
Into this pleasant progress once again comes the thunder of violence from Europe, and the residents’ awareness and concern are grew. Not long after the annual Thanksgiving football game on a bright, chilly Sunday in December, the shocked town’s parents realize that their country needed the Media boys once again.
They of course responded in tremendous numbers, and every block in town had their small flags with blue stars on it. Unfortunately, in the course of time, some were replaced with gold, signifying that another Media lad would not see his hometown again. Babe D’Ignazio buzzed State Street in his war plane before leaving for Europe and it signaled to the townspeople that Hitler’s days were numbered.
When VE day came, the town celebrated and the black out curtains came down. On a hot August day, VJ day followed. The town went wild, a continuous parade of cars on State Street with horns blowing.
Media’s continued growth
Once again the town tried to return to its old ways but the pace of change had picked up. With no space in Media, housing developments sprang up on the surrounding farmland. After the widening of Baltimore Pike and increased automobile production, traffic on State Street and the surrounding roads increased tremendously. Parking became a problem, and because of the new wider cars, State Street also had to be widened. The remaining gasoline pumps on State Street were removed.
Other notable developments included:
- Snowden’s, People’s, Dawson’s and Higgins began to display a new gadget in their store windows, which showed a flickering black and white picture of actual events happening elsewhere: television.
- The Media High School games continued with canvas being hung on the cyclone fences to induce people to pay an entrance fee to view them. Once again after the game there was a parade down State Street.
- Media Theatre still had its ten-cent Saturday matinees and double features.
- The School Pharmacy soda fountain and the next door Mustang were packed. Ellis Pharmacy still had double dip ice cream cones for ten cents.
- More lawyers began abandoning Chester for the County Seat.
- Media Hospital was going to give way to a new modern hospital to be built on the Riddle property.
- Some of the older, larger homes were being converted to apartments.
- The Media High School was to be moved out of Media and merged into a new, bigger unit and the thunder and rumbles from a place called Korea became louder. Despite these looming difficulties, the residents of the town were able to celebrate with a week-long, gigantic Centennial celebration with many of the men sporting beards for the occasion.
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