In 1846, an electric telegraph station was built, and in 1856 the North Pennsylvania Railroad arrived. The first gas lights came in 1854. In 1869 Doylestown established a water works. The first telephone line arrived in 1878, the same year that a new courthouse was erected. 1897 saw the first of several trolley lines connecting Doylestown with Willow Grove, Newtown and Easton. A private sewer system and treatment plant were authorized in 1903.
In the early 20th century, Doylestown became best known to the outside world through the museum of the Bucks County Historical Society. Henry Chapman Mercer constructed the reinforced concrete building in 1916 to house his collection of mechanical tools and utensils. Upon his death in 1930, Mercer also left his similarly constructed home Fonthill and adjacent Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, to be operated as a museum. As a result of the Great Depression, many of the previous century's beautiful old houses fell into disrepair. In the decade following World War II, Doylestown's business community boomed, streets were paved and parking meters were introduced. The post-war housing boom began in the 1950's, continuing through the 1970's, as the Borough's population grew to 8,717 in 1980.
Shopping malls presented a major challenge to the downtown district. A federal plan called for the demolition of many historic buildings. Local businesses developed their own plan, "Operation '64, the Doylestown Plan for Self-Help Downtown Renewal". Luckily, this initiative was successful, and resulted in the preservation of Doylestown's historic character. In 80's, the challenge from malls reappeared. The Borough Council established a volunteer group from business organizations, government, and residents. The purpose was to formulate plans for the downtown area in 1992, resulting in vast improvements in the downtown streets, including cast iron street lamps and brick pavers, improvements to building facades, and a Main Street Manager Program.
An important economic aspect of Doylestown been its wealth of historic and cultural features, including the Mercer Museum, Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. The art deco County Theater was restored, and a new library and art museum replaced the ruins of the old stone jail.
Take a walking tour of Doylestown - A Walk Through Time by Bruce McMahon
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