The Reading Terminal Railroad has been a significant part of American History. The Reading Viaduct was a railroad right of way that opened in 1893 and was in service until 1984. Located at the Callowhill Junction between Broad and 12th street, the viaduct has long been abandoned and for years hasn’t served a purpose except as a historical landmark in our city. However, with the help of the nonprofit Friends of the Rail Park and city officials, the viaduct will soon be revitalized to offer a new outdoor urban green space for the Philadelphia public.
Friends of the Rail Park, the Center City district and other officials envision the transformation of the Reading Viaduct and rail line into a three mile stretch of sustainable green space that will be available to the public. In it’s completed vision, pedestrians will be able to travel from the entrance of the viaduct all the way from Callowhill street to 31st and Girard without having to cross a single street. In its planning, the Rail Park will have three sections that goes through ten neighborhoods and fifty city blocks.
After years of hard work and planning, the Rail Park is finally coming to fruition. After receiving a $3.5 million dollar grant from the state, groundbreaking for phase one of the park is now underway. Mayor Kenney and Governor Wolf were both in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony and it is the first step in providing a unique trail that runs both underground and overhead. AP Construction won the bidding to construct the park, and within the next couple weeks construction will be underway. Officials say Phase 1 of the park should be open to the public in early 2018.
The Rail Park will be another addition to Philadelphia’s growing use of green space and outdoor amenities. Phase one, the Viaduct, is only the beginning. Friends of the Rail Park and the Center City District hope that the other two phases, The Cut and The Tunnel will receive funding to complete the entire Rail Park trail, which will be another notch in Philadelphia’s sustainable and environmental outlook, as well as connect center city and its neighborhoods to Fairmount Park. If you wish to learn more about the Rail Park, visit Friends of the Rail Park or if you wish to donate to the project visit Fund the Rail Park.