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Farewell to the Clickety-Clack of Philadelphia's Train Station Display Board

Philadelphia is one of the last major East Coast cities to replace its flipping sign with a digital one.
The flipping arrival and departure board at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station will soon be replaced with a digital display.
The flipping arrival and departure board at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station will soon be replaced with a digital display. Lucius Kwok/Flickr

Of the five senses, smell is the one best-known to conjure nostalgic memories. But hearing certain sounds can do the same—particularly for the many Philadelphians lamenting the imminent loss of the arrivals and departures board at their city’s main railway station, 30th Street.

The board, which since the 1980s has emitted a distinctive clickety-clack when letters and numbers flip to update, will be replaced this year with a digital display. Philadelphia is one of the last big East Coast cities to use such a device, called a Solari board after its Italian manufacturer. The Solari boards of New York’s Penn Station, Boston’s South Station, Baltimore’s Penn Station, and others have already clacked out their swan songs over the past two decades.