Two Montgomery County Communities Redefine What It Means to Be a Suburban Town

suburban town overlap
Image via Philadelphia Magazine.
Depiction of the suburban town overlap across Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia Magazine journalist Sandy Smith asked a compelling question in a recent issue: What does it mean to be a suburban town in 2023?

His query was the launch point for examining urban-suburban distinctions that have been blurring for decades.

In the past, improvements in transportation melded residential characterizations. As roads provided better connectivity, a Montgomery County employee could reasonably handle a daily commute to a Lehigh Valley job.

Residential developers fed the evolution of the suburban town.

The communities they created commonly grew into “edge cities” — concentrations of industry, shopping, entertainment, and homes. King of Prussia is a prime example.

The pandemic and its reliance on virtual workplaces erased further barriers for suburban-living professionals.

Custom home builder Peter Rotelle has seen it in Ambler.

It was “… just a sleepy kind of town” when he lived there. “And you had suburban sprawl already surrounding it.

“But that town is now hip. It’s cool,” he commented.

Pottstown, too, is redefining itself.

Its former status as a steel-mill center is being purposefully redefined over time as an appealing suburban town.

Evidence of that effort include civic encouragement of restaurants, family-friendly attractions, an active civic calendar, and vivid arts-culture scene.

More on the suburban town redefinition is at Philadelphia Magazine.


A glimpse of Pottstown’s past, a 1951 car meet there.

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