You’ll Flip When You See It!

Soon, the Solari board, Amtrak’s split-flip arrivals and departures board from William H. Gray III 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, will be on exhibit at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.  It’s in storage now, while we build a base on which to safely display it.

Named for its Italian manufacturer, this Solari board was the last one in service for Amtrak. Split-flap arrivals and departures status boards are electromechanical wonders dating back more than half a century, replacing chalk boards and other earlier methods for announcing and updating the arrival and departure times at train depots and terminals from the dawn of the railroad age.

Think of the many thousands of travelers that passed by the board in 30th Street Station, whether on their way to work or school, to visit relatives or to travel home.  The sights and sounds of the Solari board were part of the daily lives of countless Philadelphia commuters and travelers for more than four decades.

The Solari board comes to the Museum on an interim basis, and will be displayed here until Amtrak can reincorporate it into their redevelopment plans for 30th Street Station.  Because it is on loan, the Solari board will not be operated, so as not to risk damaging it in any way.  Instead, it will be preserved as a time capsule of sorts, just as it looked when it flipped for the last time (watch video below) at 30th Street Station on January 26, 2019, its final day of operation.

Look — and listen in your imagination — for the Solari board when you visit the Museum this summer!