Stories about life in Liddonfield housing project and its impact on the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Upper Holmesburg. These true stories reveal how government policy affected the lives of real people, from the project residents to area homeowners during the 5 decades of Liddonfield’s existence. Stories and articles are written by a former resident of the project.

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Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

Mar 26, 2012

The Dining Car Restaurant and Liddonfield Housing Project

by Rosemary Reeves


The Dining Car Restaurant in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Upper Holmesburg is almost as much of an icon to the former residents of Liddonfield as the project itself.  Located just two blocks from the recently demolished public housing development, for which a historic marker has been proposed, the Dining Car has been in existence from the 1960s.  Originally named the Torresdale Diner, this local landmark has served sumptuous meals to Liddonfielders throughout decades.

Though the low-income families from the project usually could not afford to dine at any restaurant on a frequent basis, special occasions called for a trip to The Dining Car.  Anniversaries, birthdays and graduations could be saved up for and were often celebrated at the local restaurant that offered them great food at affordable prices.  For many of the families that were experiencing hard times, dinner at The Dining Car created wonderful memories they otherwise might not have had.

My family lived in Liddonfield in the 1960s, when it was the Torresdale Diner.  My sister Maureen was a waitress there.  She was a young woman while I was still a little girl.  From time to time, she treated me to lunch at the diner on her day off.  It’s hard to explain how special it was for a kid from the projects to be served and fed the way other people take for granted.

Maureen’s job at the diner got her started in the restaurant industry.  She owns her own restaurant in New Jersey now.  By the way, Dining Car’s Chef Larry Thum just happens to be my former brother-in-law.  We used to go fishing at the Jersey shore back in the 1980s.  I used to watch Larry fillet our catch of the day.  Larry has been Dining Car’s chef for many years and appeared on the television show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

Related Articles:  

Liddonfield Project's Relationship to Local Businesses-McDonald's 

Former Liddonfield Project Tenants Were Reunited at Connstatter Club

Related Sources:   

Dining Car History

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives:  The Dining Car

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