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Historic PA Turnpike Midway Service Plazas

Photo Credit to the State Museum of Pennsylvania
Aside from the tunnels and the classic toll booths on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the rest stops are one of the most familiar images to longtime travelers of America's first superhighway. The two that have always caught my eye are the Midway Rest Stops. Throughout the last fifteen years or so, every rest stop along the full length of the Turnpike has been either replaced or heavily renovated. Two of the last rest stops to get done were the Midway Rest Stops. The other rest stops were replaced, usually with a relatively cookie cutter design. These were done in a historically sensitive manner that reflected the architecture of the previous stops.
They recognized the historic nature of the westbound Midway Service Plaza and kept the colonial design inspired rest stop. They gutted the interior and made it fully modern. I was nervous that this beautiful rest stop would meet the same fate as the other rest stops, but they were wise and kept the building intact.

Across the highway, here you can see the North Midway Rest Stop. This building kept a similar shape to the older , while adding more windows for natural light within the interior. 
The original North Midway Service Plaza, circa 1968. Photo credit to the Library of Congress 
I appreciate the efforts of the Turnpike Commission in keeping some historical integrity in the modernization of these service plazas. 

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  1. I have a similar postcard of the exterior of the westbound Midway (operated by Howard Johnson’s) and another of the interior’s gift shop. I’d be happy to post them here if you’re interested.

  2. My grandfather, Robert Leyburn, helped design these first rest stops back in the ‘50’s. I used to ride with him as a child to inspect progress. I’m so very glad their beauty and history has been preserved!!


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