This is what the Reading Viaduct, Philly’s new High Line-like raised urban park, could look like… someday

In the burgeoning area north of Vine Street, an abandoned rail line snakes a quarter mile from Callowhill Street to Broad. A story above the ground, the structure runs through the post-industrial neighborhood, overgrown with weeds and vegetation, littered with trash and rocks.

It’s the perfect place for a park, right?

The rail line that’s one of the highlights of the Callowhill area of the city — or “Eraserhood,” thanks to the David Lynch movie — curves from Callowhill Street to the intersection of Broad and Noble streets, just across from the old Inquirer / Daily News building and steps away from the School District’s headquarters.

The area will be turned into the Reading Viaduct Spur, a raised rail park that recently received final approval from the Philadelphia Art Commission based on its Phase I plans, according to Plan Philly. Those first plans include incorporating paths and vegetation into the rail area, putting in recreational features and rehabbing already-existing structures like bridges and overpasses to turn what was once a railway into a public space.

Plan Philly reports the Center City District is still securing the funding it needs to get the project off the ground — it’s raised about 65 percent of the $9 million it needs, is still pursuing a grant from the state and has word from the city that it plans to acquire part of the property. The park is being designed by Studio Bryan Hanes, a local landscape architect and urban designer.

Here’s an overhead look of where the rail park will be located:


Original image via Bryan Hanes

If you’re trying to figure out where this is in relation to your neighborhood, these are the locations on a Google Map:

Once the redevelopment project is finished, there will be two “access points” where visitors will be able to use stairs to get up onto the raised park to use the space, and those points will be located near Cafe Lift on 13th Street just north of Callowhill Street, and on Callowhill Street in between 11th and 12th streets.

Here’s what it currently looks like at the 13th Street access point:


Bobby Chen/ Billy Penn

And what it will look like once the project is finished:

13th street

Courtesy of Bryan Hanes

Here’s what the area on Callowhill Street in between 11th and 12th streets currently looks like:


Bobby Chen/ Billy Penn

And what the access point there will look like when the project is finished:

callowhill access

Courtesy of Bryan Hanes

Currently, the intersection of Broad and Noble streets looks like this, with an old, recognizable trolley:


Bobby Chen/ Billy Penn

The space will be re-done during this phase of the project, and is set to look like this:


Courtesy of Bryan Hanes

As for the actual park itself? That will sit atop the Reading Viaduct, which looks like this:


Bobby Chen/ Billy Penn

And will be transformed into this:

top of the rail park

Courtesy of Bryan Hanes

And this:


Courtesy of Bryan Hanes

Finally, a full overview of how the raised Rail Park is expected to look once finished, from the perspective of Broad Street area looking east:

rail park

Courtesy of Bryan Hanes

Click here for more information on the project and here to view the renderings on the designer’s site.

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