Amtrak derailment recedes in Frankford Junction neighborhood’s memory

    Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter hugs Lori Dee Patterson

    Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter hugs Lori Dee Patterson

    It’s six months since Amtrak train 188 crashed at Philadelphia’s Frankford Junction killing eight people.

    Has anything changed in the neighborhood surrounding the tracks? 


    Pete’s Clown House was the epicenter of media activity after the May 12 train crash, when literally hundreds of journalist camped outside 24 hours a day for about a week.  

    Ron Bordone, who owns the breakfast and lunch restaurant, was surprised to hear it’s been six months. He said the neighborhood returned to its routines in short order.

    “I couldn’t believe it when you walked through the door and told me that,” he said. “It’s been the same neighborhood since I’ve been a child here. It’s business as usual around here.”

    Joe Brown comes to the Clown House every weekday for breakfast.  In the aftermath of the crash, it was a fight to get in, he said. Now he can easily claim his spot at the counter. 

    The neighborhood is much the same as it was before the accident — with the exception of tighter security around Frankford Junction at the site of the derailment, Brown said.

    “They actually cleaned everything up back there, fenced everything in,” he said. “It’s all new gravel … you can’t walk back there anymore, it’s secure. It looks much nicer back there.”

    Also sitting at the counter was George Orth, who agreed not much has changed.

    “They did an excellent job of cleaning up. The place looks much better.”

    Bordone, who was happy when the media decamped and his regulars could get in to the restaurant easily, said he feels the crash shouldn’t have happened.

    “Just horrible, just a horrible situation,” he said. “I think it could have been avoided, but it’s not my say.”

    The fence around the tracks is stronger, the gates locked with a sturdy chain. Behind those deterrents, it’s obvious where the tracks and overhead wires were replaced.   

    But unless specifically asked, people near Frankford Junction barely mention the Amtrak derailment.

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