The town of Paoli grew around a 1769 inn kept by Joshua Evans, whose father bought 500 acres (2 km²) from William Penn in 1719 near the current site of the Paoli Post Office. Evans named his inn after General Pasquale Paoli, a Corsican, after he had received the 45th and final toast at a St. Patrick's Day celebration.
Paoli was on the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, which was later absorbed into the Lincoln Highway, and became U.S. 30 still later. In a nod to the old days, most locals still call the route "Lancaster Pike".
For generations, Paoli was the western terminus of Pennsylvania Railroad commuter trains coming from Philadelphia on the Main Line. The "Paoli Local" became iconic in the western suburbs. Long-distance trains would also stop at Paoli station, but with the decline of long-distance train travel, those became less frequent, although Amtrak continues to use the station.
Commuters traveling by rail within Southeastern Pennsylvania use the Paoli station, although most local trains serving Paoli now terminate in Malvern, one stop to the west. Septa's R5 commuter rail runs between Thorndale and Philadelphia both ways every 30 minutes during the week. For local college students and city-working suburbanites, the R5 is their main artery to school and work each day. Station-to-Station, a trip from Paoli to downtown Philadelphia on the R5 takes approximately 45 minutes.  Local buses traverse Route 30 all up and down the Main Line, and Paoli Pike is the main artery for buses heading to West Chester.
The local business association has a website.