Yardley Borough

Bucks County, Pennsylvania

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Yardley Borough municipal offices are located at 56 South Main Street, Yardley PA 19067.
Phone: 215‑493‑6865.

Yardley South Main St


The Borough of Yardley [1] is located 27 miles northeast of the City of Philadelphia. The Delaware River flows by the Borough along its east side and it is surrounded on all of its other sides by the Township of Lower Makefield.

Natural Beauty—Yardley is fortunate to have beautiful natural features that add to its charm like steep slopes, wetlands, wooded areas, and floodplains and specifically, Lake Afton. The Delaware River, the >Delaware Canal, and Lake Afton all provide scenic view sheds and are important Borough natural features.

Historic Character/Tourism—The Borough has a strong historical element in its built environment. Old, significant structures, such as the Continental Tavern and the Yardley Grist Mill, have been renovated and adapted to the same or new uses. In 1985, the Borough designated a Historic District designed to protect the integrity of historic buildings and promote the town's heritage. The Borough should promote both preservation and tourism. Borough assets like trails, waterways, natural areas, parks, historic structures and sites, and a strong traditional downtown and main street commercial core should all work together to support these two common and complimentary characteristics and initiatives.

Residential Neighborhoods—Yardley has a varied housing stock consisting of single‑family detached, semi-detached (twin/duplex), attached and multifamily units. U.S. Census figures show that Yardley has fewer households with children compared to surrounding communities and the entire county. The Borough has a higher percentage of single‑person households and multifamily units compared to surrounding communities and the entire county. Many of the multifamily units are located in Yardley Commons and several apartment complexes. Apartment rentals are also located above some businesses along Main Street and Afton Avenue.

Patriotism/Service—In many ways the Borough of Yardley and its residents are a picture of small town historic America where many in the community continue to meet together to celebrate the 4th of July, have a Memorial Day parade, enjoy its historic setting and scenery, walk and jog along the canal pathway system, and become involved with important events such as Carry The Load at the Veteran's Monument. The Borough is also home to American Legion Post 317. During the holidays the Borough holds a get together where it extends invitations to all volunteers, members of the fire company and members of the Legion. Yardley is defined by community interaction, involvement and service. Look to the Borough Clock, the Memorial Bricks, and the World War I and World War II Memorial Plaques located at Borough Hall for inspiration.

Business/Employment—Yardley has a strong business community, most of which is of a commercial/office nature located along portions of Main Street and Afton Avenue. Other commercial areas also exist in the Borough, mostly in several strip centers located along West Afton Avenue, South Main Street, and a few isolated parcels along Delaware Avenue. In terms of employment, more residents are employed in management, retail, professional, education, and health care careers compared to the county overall. A higher percentage of Borough residents are government employees and significantly more residents are self‑employed; around 12 percent of the Borough's population run their own business compared to the county average of 6 percent. The Borough will continue to promote economic development through good design.

Open Space/Recreation Opportunities—Lake Afton, the Delaware Canal, and Buttonwood Park provide recreational opportunities and community gathering places. The privately owned Yardley Country Club golf course also offers recreational opportunities to residents of Yardley and surrounding areas. The Orchard Hill neighborhood is served by a small pocket park located along Ludlow Road. A current and successful open space planning effort by the Borough involved receiving and utilizing Bucks County Open Space and riverfront funding to acquire undeveloped land along South Delaware Avenue. A 1.57 acre open space lot next to the Fitzgerald‑Sommer funeral home along South Delaware Avenue will provide riverfront access to the Borough and will allow for passive uses with anchored picnic tables and shade trees allowing the public a scenic view of the river, as well as, provide a small public space for festivals and events. Active recreation uses are not intended due to the proximity of the existing funeral home. This preservation effort also involves a 0.50 acre parcel located between South Delaware Avenue and the river. Other Borough open space and recreational opportunities are identified in Chapter 7: Recreation and Open Space.

Transportation and Mobility—Yardley is home to a commuter train station located along the SEPTA West Trenton Line that runs between Ewing Township, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Yardley Train Station is well used by commuters from the Borough and surrounding areas, and has 275 off­street parking spaces and 2 platforms. The Trenton-Mercer Airport, located across the Delaware River in Ewing Township, is home to commercial air carrier service connecting Mercer County and the region to hundreds of destinations. The increased air traffic has generated concerns about noise and safety due to the location of flight paths. Interstate Route 95 is located just north of the Borough and existing accesses both to northbound and southbound Interstate Route 95 are located nearby. Also, many areas of the Borough have existing pedestrian networks including the towpath along the canal, existing sidewalks in various areas of the Borough, and a path system connecting Buttonwood Park to nearby residential and commercial areas. A project that has recently been completed along Afton Avenue now provides pedestrian connections from the western side of Main Street to the Delaware River.

Community Facilities/Events—Important community facilities include the Yardley Community Centre which provides a gathering and meeting space for various groups and events. Other community facilities include the Yardley Post Office and Borough Hall, a pavilion located in Buttonwood Park, and a memorial to soldiers located along the river where there was previously a bridge across the Delaware River to New Jersey (the bridge was destroyed in the flood of 1955).The Borough has an active business association that supports businesses and the local community. Events such as Harvest Day located along Canal Street, College Avenue, and Bell Avenue, the Christmas Tree Lighting at the Old Library, the annual Christmas Parade along South Main Street, Recycle Day located in Buttonwood Park, and a Beer Fest next to the Fitzgerald-Sommer funeral home along South Delaware Avenue. All of these events are sponsored by the Yardley Business Association and supported by the Borough.

Yardleyville History [2]

Thomas Yardley, the nephew of William who settled with his family in Lower Makefield Township in 1682, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1704 with the power of attorney to settle the family estate. Uncle William and his family had died in a smallpox epidemic in 1702-03. In 1706, Thomas married Ann Biles at Pennsbury Manor; they would have ten children.

In 1710, Joseph Hanney, acting for Thomas, bought "Prospect Farm," the family estate on Dolington Road; the property was immediately conveyed to Thomas. In 1726, he purchased an additional 500 acres from Thomas Lambert; the property included "a grist mill, mill pond, mill races, mill stones and edifices." Lambert had acquired the parcel in 1713 from Ralph Brock who in 1704 inherited his father John's property. Water for the mill was supplied from Lake Afton.

In 1722, the Pennsylvania Assembly passed an act "to erect and establish a ferry on the lands of Thomas Yardley ... for the better accommodations of passengers traveling in this province." It is probable that Thomas was already operating a ferry. The statute, however, set rates: "For every horse and rider, seven pence, and when a greater number shall be carried together, six pence ... For every single person on foot, three pence ... For every ox, cow, or heifer, nine pence." The statute also provided separate rates for sheep, hogs, sleds and loaded or empty wagons.

A five pound fine was specified for violations of the law - "if the said Thomas Yardley ... shall not maintain and keep such a sufficient boat, as aforesaid, with sufficient and able hands; or shall not be given constant and due attendance on the service of said ferry; or shall demand any greater, or other fees ..." The ferry license was for a term of 14 years and prohibited operating a ferry "within a space of two miles either above or below." Although the exact location of the ferry site has not been determined, it is believed to be south of Afton Avenue between Ferry Street and Letchworth Avenue. It is also probable that the actual landing may have occurred at various points along the river due to currents and other conditions. At some time a ferry house and tavern were constructed.

Thomas Yardley was a good businessman who could "appreciate the industrial values of the waterworks and mills on Brock Creek." He expanded the Yardley grist mill and established a saw mill. In 1733 he also acquired 600 acres in Newtown and the Heath mills, erected in Solebury in 1707. About 1728 he began the construction of "Lakeside," adjacent to the Yardley Mills.

Like his uncle William, Thomas was active in the provincial assembly and was a justice in the Bucks County Court. On his death in 1756, his property was divided among his children. William, who married twice, Ann Budd and Sarah Kirkbride, and had 12 children, received the Prospect Farm property outside of town. He died in 1774. Samuel received the land and mills in Solebury. Thomas, who was married to Mary Field, inherited the Lambert lands including the mills and "Lakeside;" the other children received land and cash.

Thomas Yardley's will also made provisions for his slaves. "Items I give and dispose of my Negroes in manner following" William was given Tom and Charles; Thomas was given Isaac and Jem; Samuel was given Dan, Bob, and Jo; Sarah was given "the Girl Nancy." Thomas was to keep "old Nancy and Flora so long as old Nancy shall live and after old Nancy's death then Flora to have her choice to live with either my son William or Thomas or Samuel and there to live and remain until she shall arrive at the age of 35 years and then to be set free and at liberty."

In 1769, young Thomas rebuilt and expanded the grist mill which he operated until 1795. Since he and Mary did not have children, they began to sell off property. The mills and 410 acres were sold to Cornelius Vansant. The deed reads: "... unto Cornelius Vansant ... All that Mansion House ... which the said Thomas Yardley and his wife have heretofore lived and the water grist and saw mill and the following described tract of land ... together also with the full and free liberty and privilege of rafting and boating, importing and exporting in the said river onto and off of the other lands of the said Thomas Yardley below the mouth of said creek all such mills forever and so as not to injure the said Thomas Yardley his heirs of assigns in the same kind of business and ferrying."

In 1800 Thomas sold a 25 acre "ferry" tract, including a tavern and ferry house, to Joseph and George Green. Joseph petitioned the Court of Quarter Session: "That your Petitioner ... purchased of Thos. Yardley his tavern at the riverside known by the name of Yardley Ferry for the purpose of continuing said tavern and ferry with the courts permission and as this house has been for several years licensed he prays the court for their recommendation so that he may obtain a license to open and keep there a tavern according to law."

Thomas sold another 18 acres above the ferry tract to John Stapler, yeoman of Lower Makefield. This property was soon bought by Elijah Leedom and his wife, Lucy, of Lower Makefield who sold it to Cornelius Vansant in 1805. For ten years Vansant had been busy buying up much of the real estate in what would become Yardley Borough. In several instances he built homes and then sold the parcel. Along the river he constructed a large, stone Federal mansion known as "Lanrick Manor" where he lived until 1810 when the property was sold to George Green.

Thomas Yardley died in 1803. His mills, tavern, and ferry were the beginnings of the village of Yardleyville. In 1721 a road had been established from Yardley's Ferry to Four Lanes End (Langhorne). In 1734, there was a road from Yardley's Ferry to Newtown; in 1744 a road from Kirkbride's Ferry below the Falls, along the river to the "great road above Thomas Yardley's" and in 1752 a road from Falls Meeting to Yardley's Ferry.

Davis, in his "History of Bucks County," wrote: "Yardleyville began to develop into what Americans call a village about 1807. An old map of the place of that date shows a number of building lots, and streets laid out above the mouth of the creek, and running back from the river, and on the south side were several lots at the intersection of the Newtown and Upper River roads. The only buildings there were the old tavern near the river bank, and the dwellings of Brown, Pidcock, Eastburn, and Depue ... the first store house was built by the widow of Thomas Yardley. An old tavern stood at this side of the ferry, kept by John Jones, and subsequently, Benjamin Fleming."

When the ferry was moved to what would be Bridge Street (later East Afton Avenue), a tavern (later the White Swan and Yardley Inn) was built by one called Grear. In 1835, a covered bridge replaced the ferry. "Lakeside" and mills were subsequently owned by Richard Mitchell, Atlee, Mahlon Dungan and William Yardley.

  1. Adapted from: Borough of Yardley, Comprehensive Plan, 2014.
  2. Adapted from: Yardley News Centennial Edition, July 1995. (part 2 of a 5-part history)

Nearby Towns: Ewing Twp • Falls Twp • Hopewell Twp • Langhorne Boro • Langhorne Manor Boro • Lower Makefield Twp • Middletown Twp • Morrisville Boro • Newtown Boro • Penndel Boro • Pennington Boro • Trenton City • Upper Makefield Twp •


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