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There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.

Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.

There was nothing organic about the birth of Norristown. In 1784, Montgomery County was created out of Philadelphia County by an act of the Commonwealth. A 27 1/2 acre parcel in what is now Norristown Borough was stipulated to be purchased for the new county’s seat of government, making it one of the earliest established in Pennsylvania. It took the name of an ancient landowner in the area, Isaac Norris. Norris had been mayor of Philadelphia 60 years earlier - Ben Franklin had just gotten to town and George Washington wasn’t even born yet. Norris himself was born in England in 1871 - and thus may be the oldest person for whom a Pennsylvania town is named.

Norristown was not destined to be a sleepy government town. Water power draining into the Schuylkill River along the Stoney Creek and Saw Mill Run encouraged early industry and Norristown was superbly sited to take advantage of early American transportation. The Schuylkill Canal was completed in 1826 and the Reading Railroad arrived in 1834. Horse drawn trolley cars ran through town by the 1880s and Norristown had some of the earliest electrified trolley lines in America. When the Philadelphia and Western electrified high speed line was constructed in 1912, Norristown was in easy commuting distance of Philadelphia, 20 miles away. It was heady enough for borough boosters to proclaim in Centennial literature that year that, “Norristown is now the biggest, busiest, brightest Borough in the world.”

Now on the eve of the centennial of that Centennial proclamation, our walking tour will investigate how that boast holds up, beginning at the county court house at the heart of the Norristown Central Historic District...

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