by Anna Idler
Photography by Alison Dunlap
I still remember my fourth of July three years ago; I might remember so well because it didn’t involve any wild parties and fireworks “down the shore” as we Philadelphians like to call it. I opted for a quiet night with my mom, in downtown Ambler, about five minutes away from my family’s house.
After delicious wine and pasta dishes at From the Boot, an amazing Italian eatery on Butler Avenue, we walked around the town for a bit before our movie at the Ambler Theater. We saw an indie film Moonrise Kingdom; it was a perfect night, in a wonderful town I’m lucky to call home.
Ambler is a borough of Montgomery County, about 16 miles outside of the city of Philadelphia. The town has a small, tight-knit community of about 6,500. Ambler’s friendly walkable town, wonderful school district, successful businesses and cultural attractions make it a fantastic place to grow up, and to visit.
Ambler was first known as the “Village of Wissahickon,” named after the Wissahickon Creek. The first road to run through the town, now known as Mt. Pleasant Avenue, was confirmed in 1730.
The town of Ambler itself is named after a woman named Mary Johnson Ambler. She was born in 1805 and lived in the town of Wissahickon with her family.
In July 1856, two trains on the North Pennsylvania Railroad Line (NPRL) collided between the Fort Washington and Camp Hill stations. As soon as Mary Ambler heard about what history would call the Great Train Wreck of 1856, she gathered medical supplies and walked two miles to the collision site to help treat the injured.
After she died in 1868, the NPRL honored her by changing the name of Wissahickon station to Ambler Station. A few years later, the town itself adopted the name Ambler as well.
Ambler is a town with rich history as well as a vibrant culture. The town takes pride in its numerous community facilities and arts centers, such as its two successful, exciting organizations the Ambler Theater (mentioned above) and the Ambler Symphony Orchestra.
The Theater is a nonprofit movie theater opened by Warner Bros. in 1928. The establishment shows mainly independent and foreign films, and hosts special events. The Symphony was founded in 1951 and simultaneously provides entertainment for residents as well as an opportunity for local musicians to perform.
If you’re looking to visit Ambler soon, summer is a perfect time to explore this town. June 17 – 18 is Ambler’s Arts & Music Festival, starting Friday evening continuing through Saturday. There will be local bands performing original songs and covers; Saturday continues the fun with more music and an Arts & Crafts marketplace where local artists can display their latest work.
Visiting Ambler is easily accessible via driving and taking the train. Ambler Station is on the SEPTA line, and plenty of affordable parking options if you’re coming into town via the PA Turnpike, routes 309, 76 and 476.
Ambler is a welcoming, vivacious, and exciting place to be thanks to many hard-working small business owners and local organizations who contribute to the community. Get to know some of the people and places shaping the vibrant community in our Ambler Happening Spotlights below:
Dawesfield, also known as Camp Morris
565 Lewis Ln.