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John Wanamaker Monorail

By Steve Moyer | HUMANITIES, May/June 2009 | Volume 30, Number 3

Shouldn’t these tiny travelers be beaming? Notwithstanding the tots’ dour demeanor, Philadelphia, sometimes known for its irascible sports fans, is also the kid-loving burg where a leading department store installed a monorail for youngsters so they could gaze down upon the treasures that lay below, making mental notes, perhaps, for requests to Kriss Kringle. The John Wanamaker monorail, now in historic Memorial Hall in Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum (which received NEH funding for remodeling), made its rounds of the eighth-floor toy department from 1946 to 1984 before the ingenious merchandising tool was nearly destined for the salvage heap. A worker had the foresight and kind heart to call the curator to see if there was any interest. The Rocket Express now helps parents and grandparents transport memories from one generation to another.