Skip to main content

Aerial Photos of Breezewood 1958 and 1967

People have a love hate relationship with Breezewood, Pennsylvania.  It's either loved as a unique piece of America and road travel.  (Editor's note: In writing this entry, I couldn't find any article, blog post or webpage that says how wonderful Breezewood is.) Or it is hated, despised, or even boycotted.

This post isn't about my personal opinion of it. In the past five or six years, our family typically goes through Breezewood between 9pm and midnight on our way from Eastern North Carolina to Pittsburgh - and I have never experienced the notorious backups that people dislike so much.  But I digress.

Earlier this week, I came across an amazing website that features aerial photos of Pennsylvania from the late 1930s to the early 1970s.  It is called Penn Pilot - and is hosted by Penn State University.  Trust me, you can waste a whole day looking at this site.  It's a wonderful resource.  So one of my first looks was Breezewood to see if they have pictures of the evolution of the town.  Fortunately, I did luck out.

The first image below is of Breezewood in 1958.  The Interstate Era was in it's infancy.  The PA Turnpike System was still the pride of the Commonwealth, and a connection to Baltimore and Washington via Interstate 70 was in the very early planning stages (if at all).

The original turnpike alignment is still going strong.  The connection was solely with US 30.  However, if you expand the photo to full size, there are still some key pieces of Breezewood being the gateway and connection point from PA and the Midwest to Baltimore and DC can be seen.   PA 126 runs from US 30 - just west of the interchange - south out of the picture towards Maryland.  What I find interesting is the more modern design for the turning movement from 126 North to 30 East and eventually the Turnpike.  Breezewood was the Gateway to the South before Interstate 70 even arrived.

For reference, I-70 will eventually tie in between 126 and the original Breezwood interchange.  Also of note, sitting on the north side of US 30 between the interchange and 126, is the then recently opened Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge.  The Gateway Travel Plaza sits right below it.

Now let's fast forward to 1967.  The Interstate 70 connection has been open a couple of years and Breezewood was entering its heyday of being known as the "Town of Motels".

The turnpike was well underway in constructing a new 13.5 mile alignment.  This aerial shot shows the brief time period of how Interstate 70 connected to the old turnpike alignment.  Also, the US 30 intersection with the now defunct PA 126 has changed.  US 30 to the east has been twinned as it heads westwards to Everett.

Breezewood changed a lot in the nine years between photos.  The popular Post House opened in 1963 and sits just east of the 70/30 intersection.  The beloved Post House closed in 2004. (Editors Note: I stopped there at least twice in the 1990s on various college bus trips.) The Howard Johnson's added a new building.  And many many other motor lodges and motels have since opened.

So in 1967, Breezewood most likely looked something like this. 


Postcard from 1970 - Blown up photo via orangeroof.com
Of course nearly 50 years later, a lot of these motels have been re-branded, abandoned or even torn down.  The old alignment of the Turnpike is now an attraction for bicyclists, roadgeeks, and the adventurous.  And who knows what Breezewood will look like in the next 20 years. Yet one thing that hasn't and most likely will not change is that you will still have to experience the 2000 or so feet of the Breezewood Strip to get where you're going.

Site Navigation:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Smithtown Bull in Smithtown, New York

  Before I moved to Upstate New York as a young man, I grew up in the Long Island town of Smithtown during the 1980s and 1990s. The recognizable symbol of Smithtown is a bronze statue of a bull named Whisper, located at the junction of NY Route 25 and NY Route 25A near the bridge over the Nissequogue River. Why a bull, you may ask. The bull is a symbol of a legend related to the town's founding in 1665 by Richard "Bull" Smythe, with a modernized name of Richard Smith. It also so happens that there is a story behind the legend, one that involves ancient land right transfers and some modern day roads as well. So the story goes that Smythe made an agreement with a local Indian tribe where Smythe could keep whatever land he circled around in a day's time riding atop his trusty bull. Choosing the longest day of the year for his ride, he set out with his bull Whisper and went about riding around the borders of the Town of Smithtown. As legend has it, Smythe t

Niagara Falls

  Arguably the world's most famous waterfall, or rather a set of waterfalls, Niagara Falls may not need much of an introduction, as it is a very popular tourist attraction in both New York State and the Province of Ontario, a destination of plenty of honeymooning couples, vacationing families and college students out for a good time for a weekend. Niagara Falls is also the site of many daredevil activities over the years, such as tightrope walking and going over the falls in a barrel. It is always nice to have a bit of a refresher, of course. Niagara Falls is made up of two main waterfalls, American Falls (also known as Rainbow Falls), which is on the American side of the border and Horseshoe Falls (also known as Canadian Falls), where the border between the United States and Canada crosses. There is also a smaller waterfall on the New York side of the border, which is Bridal Veil Falls. The height of the waterfalls are impressive, with Horseshoe Falls measuring at

Erie Canal: Little Falls and Moss Island

  Little Falls, New York is a small city in the Mohawk Valley that has been shaped by the forces of water throughout its history. Nowhere in Little Falls is that more evident than at Moss Island. Representing the Industrial Age, this is home of Lock 17 the tallest lock along the Erie Canal, but there is also evidence of the Ice Age in the form of 40 foot deep glacial potholes from when there was an ancient waterfall that was even larger than Niagara Falls at this spot, once draining Glacial Lake Iroquois when other outlets (such as the St. Lawrence River) were blocked by retreating glaciers. While Little Falls does not have the amount of industry around the river and canal than it once had, checking out what Moss Island has to offer is a great way to see what the city has to offer. Visiting Moss Island allows you to experience the engineering marvel that is the Erie Canal plus the wonders of nature by taking a hike around the island and seeing the glacial potholes. A