For Amtrak riders yearning for an old-school flipboard displaying times and arrivals, instead of the digital screens that aid travelers now — the iconic 30th Street Station Solari board, which was removed in January, is now being displayed at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
The 30th Street board was the last of its kind for Amtrak.
“Since it departed the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station in Philadelphia earlier this year, there’s been a lot of flap about Amtrak’s split-flip arrivals and departures board. Now, the historic Solari board, named for its Italian manufacturer, is on exhibit at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania,” a post on the museum’s website said.
However, the flipboard, which is on loan to the Lancaster County museum at 300 Gap Rd., Ronks, will not be in operation there. It will show the last time it flipped, on Jan. 26.
Museum director Patrick Morrison said there are more renovations to the exhibition to come. The plan is to add an embedded screen displaying a video of the board operating, along with the history.
The now-on-display board, which clacked and spun as it showed train times, was replaced by a sleek digital screen.
One major reason for the new digital board, with space for real-time updates, was that it benefits those who are hearing-impaired. The old flipboard was unable to give visual updates, so announcements were made over the loudspeaker. But the flipping board’s departure still prompted some public outcry and efforts to preserve the beloved display.
Morrison said the museum had been in talks with Amtrak to get the board since about 2016, when plans to replace it got underway, and picked up again in 2018.
“They were looking for possibilities of what to do with it and how to preserve it,” Morrison said. “It’s a challenging subject because it is a piece of history.”
The museum received the board in February, but the exhibit went up only last week.
“It’s a work in progress; we still have more to do. But at least you can see it now,” Morrison said.
The sign will be at the museum for the next three years, until a more permanent solution is determined.
It "will be displayed here until the developer considers if it can incorporate the board in redevelopment plans for Gray 30th Street Station,” the museum’s post read. “The sights and sounds of this Solari board were part of the daily lives of countless Philadelphia commuters and travelers for more than four decades, and they now live on in our fond memories of Pennsylvania railroad history.”
However, if the board is unable to be incorporated into the station’s redesign, Morrison said, the museum would be “honored” to keep it on a more permanent basis.
Amtrak is still in the proposal stage for the redesign, spokesperson Beth Toll said.