“The borough incorporated on October 6, 1874, its territory taken nearly equally from the townships of Upper and Lower Merion. Residents wanted a separated government suited to the community’s industrial character, which was totally unlike the other parts of the two townships.”
Twentieth-Century West Conshohocken
In the 20th century, West Conshohocken continued to change in response to new lifestyles, economic conditions, and decisions made by higher levels of government. The blacksmith and wheelwright shops as well as the coal yards became obsolete and disappeared. The new large shopping malls have forced many of the local stores out of business in the borough as well as elsewhere. The location of major highways in and near West Conshohocken has attracted many industries to the area.
Though the river was a prime factor in the early development of the borough, more recent pressures for development have come from highways. In 1950, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation began construction of the Schuylkill Expressway, part of which was to pass through the borough. The construction of the expressway, which was opened in 1952, caused the demolition of about twenty homes. Its interchange within the borough brought more regional traffic. The building of the Mid-County Expressway (Blue Route) and its interchange within the borough has caused the loss of an estimated 100 additional homes. A new and improved concrete Matsonford Bridge was constructed in the 1980’s.
The most prominent changes, however, have been the replacement of the mills along the river with high-rise office buildings and a high-rise hotel. These changes have not only significantly changed the visual landscape of the borough, but also the traffic, economic, and fiscal landscapes of the borough.