by Will Detweiler

Beyond the summer beauty of the hanging flower baskets and planters – thanks to the efforts of tireless Dotty Shefield, Emily Daeschler and Bob Mackowski – and the glitz and glamour of the Philadelphia Mounted Police, exciting things are happening on Germantown Avenue.

Starting at Chestnut Hill College with their newly enhanced entrance and the thought of Morris Arboretum’s planned conveniently located pedestrian entrance at Germantown and Hillcrest Avenues, a trip along the Avenue reveals impressive developments and activities. The spruced-up attractive Woodmere Art Museum offers changing outdoor exhibits and sponsors especially popular Friday night Jazz. The Hospital grounds have never looked better.

After a three month hiatus, we now have the most attractive liquor store in Pennsylvania with a fine wine assortment. Outdoor sidewalk seating is available at Cosmos and Chestnut Hill Coffee. Down the Avenue, the usual suspects can be seen in front of Starbucks solving the world’s problems. Behind it is the thriving outdoor Top of the Hill Market and around the corner next to Cake is Chill on the Hill. Difficult to walk by either.

Robertson’s and Kilian’s seasonal outdoor displays round out the Highland Avenue intersection. Outdoor diners are a common sight at Heirloom, Thai Kuu, Iron Hill Brewery, Drake’s rear garden, Campbell’s, and Chestnut Hill Grill & Sidewalk Cafe.

The newly named Jenks Academy for Arts and Sciences offers even more promise for our outstanding public school with the fun-filled community playground. Across the street Christ Lutheran Church Child Care Center toddlers are often seen being led chain-gang style and in strollers enjoying the sights and sounds of the Avenue. The Chestnut Hill Hotel complex is lively with Paris Bistro and Fareway leading into its newly renovated Market with its large colorful chairs, fountains, flowers, and fire pit.

Buckley Park is regularly occupied with moms, dads, and frolicking children, others simply resting under the shade. Across from Buckley Park, construction of the long-awaited mixed-use development with luxury condominiums, shops, and an up-scale Fresh Market is underway. It’s the largest and most extensive development in the Avenue’s history. Nearby is the enticing Bredenbeck’s Bakery and Ice Cream Parlor across from leafy and colorful Laurel Hill Gardens. Speaking of bakeries, not to be overlooked is Baker Street and the venerable Night Kitchen, both with outdoor tables.

Yes, we need to continue working on making parking more convenient and easier to use, and we have more vacant stores than we like. But, are you aware that in the last four years twenty-three new business have opened their doors along the Avenue and a number of others are considering the uniqueness and the needs of the Chestnut Hill community? How many of the new shops have you visited?

Before we realize it summer will fade and we will again enjoy the popular Harry Potter Festival and the always fun and jammed Fall Arts Festival on the Avenue with live music, children’s rides, street vendors, and a wide assortment of culinary delights and drink. Speaking of fall, fifty street trees along Germantown Avenue will soon be planted thanks to the Green Space initiative, a collaboration among the Chestnut Hill Community Fund, Business Improvement District, Chestnut Hill Business Association, and community volunteers. I’m pleased to mention that the Chestnut Hill Community Association also is playing a significant role in this project.

Aside from pointing out the current “Action on the Avenue,” why am I rattling on about it? The simple answer is that I think we sometimes take the Avenue for granted and don’t fully appreciate the continual efforts being put into our business district. The things we all enjoy and benefit from do not simply happen. The desirability of the entire community that we cherish is largely dependent on the quality, vitality, and success of the Avenue. “As the Avenue goes, so goes Chestnut Hill.”

The Chestnut Hill Business Association, Business Improvement District, and Parking Foundation and its committed staff in the Welcome Center deserve a huge thank you for their sponsoring and organizing these activities and especially for their perseverance in enhancing the Avenue. However, they are quick to point out that they rely heavily on the continual support and cooperation of the Chestnut Hill Community Association to help make their efforts successful.

The best way you can contribute to the Avenue is to enjoy it, use it, and promote it. And of course – support the Chestnut Hill Community Association. Remember, members receive a ten percent discount from our merchants. If you aren’t a member, it’s as easy as a phone call to 215-248-8810 or e-mail to