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April 2, 2012

Behold: The First Official Renderings Of The Proposed Reading Viaduct Elevated Park, Philadelphia’s Planned Park In The Sky

The Center City District has commissioned designs for a potential first phase of the Reading Viaduct Park on a spur of the viaduct owned by SEPTA. This is an overview shot of the design for that section, looking east from above 13th Street.
(Image by Studio Bryan Hanes courtesy Center City District)

Last we checked in on the Reading Viaduct park project, we told you that the Center City District had commissioned a design study for what could be the first phase of the elevated park, which would transform the SEPTA-owned portion of the viaduct that runs from Callowhill to 13th and Noble Streets.

Now we’re getting a first look at what those designs look like. And, honestly, it’s pretty hard not to be excited.

This section of the Viaduct is less than 1/4 of a mile long, but the designs are nothing less than transformative. The park designs include a bunch of amenities like new trees and plantings, an outdoor classroom, seating, swings and more.

The designs also call for connecting the Viaduct to an entrance on North Broad Street at Noble Street just across the street from the Inquirer Building. That would be in addition to two other main access points: on 13th Street at Noble and on Callowhill between 11th and 12th.

The renderings look awesome.

We hope the Center City District continues to work with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce and Department of Parks & Recreation as well as the William Penn Foundation and Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust to make sure this thing happens.

Talk about a game-changer.

This section of the park would include amenities like new trees and plantings, seating, an outdoor classroom, swings and more. (Image by Studio Bryan Hanes courtesy Center City District)

This section of the viaduct is less than 1/4 of a mile long, following a curve from Callowhill Street between 11th and 12th going west to 13th and Noble Streets. (Image by Studio Bryan Hanes courtesy Center City District)

More renderings below.

The idea is to develop this spur of the Viaduct as phase one.

Paul Levy, the Executive Director of the Center City District, is confident that this section of the Viaduct could be developed for a very reasonable amount of money and used to demonstrate how successful the fully transformed Viaduct park would be.

The Center City District is working with landscape architect Bryan Hanes, the designer of the new Sister Cities Plaza, on the designs for this section of the Viaduct.

Wisely, the designs for this section of the park call for making the connection on the west end of the Viaduct Spur to North Broad Street at Noble Street just across from the Inquirer Building. You may recognize the trolley car in this rendering, which currently stands at that corner as the Steak & Bagel Train. (Image by Studio Bryan Hanes courtesy Center City District)

This is a view of the access point to the park from 13th Street, looking north. Cafe Lift is just beyond the park/overpass on the left. (Image by Studio Bryan Hanes courtesy Center City District)

A bird's eye view of the section of the park that would be the first phase to be developed. (Image by Studio Bryan Hanes courtesy Center City District)

This is a view of the park's other access point, looking west down Callowhill between 11th and 12th. (Image by Studio Bryan Hanes courtesy Center City District)

You can view the full design presentation as a PDF on the Center City District’s website.

Stay tuned for more information.

Reading Viaduct Spur Presentation (PDF) [Center City District via Hidden City]

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Thank you for sharing the exciting plans for the park in the sky. Makes me want to rush right back to Philly! Best of luck!
Lynne Llewellyn Snyder, Belington, WV

Ryan says:

hopefully it doesn’t become a despised tourist trap like the High Line in NY.

Nathan says:

Looks like it will have a beautiful view of that parking lot. Nice planning Philly.

Walter says:

@ Nathan, one step at a time.

This project is still a good re-purposing of unused space, and will hopefully be able to lead to other development and economic growth. Many parts of the viaduct offer great vistas of the the skyline.

Still, the best and longest parts of the viaduct are privately owned.

hank says:

ditto Walter, couldn’t say it better

Jen says:

Ditto again to Walter. It’s such an excellent idea to help beautiful a dilapidated area and make great use of an eye sore.

@ Nathan, don’t have doubt, just look at Northern Liberties!

Wow. Looks Amazing. I hope it happens.

Astralmilkman says:

THIS IS A GREAT BEGINING…..BUT LET’S THINK BIGGER…..I CANNOT DISAGREE MORE WITH THOSE WHO SAY THIS PARK ( ALL THREE MILES OF IT , I HOPE ) WILL BE A ROAD TO NOWHERE . IF YOU PUT TRULLY SEPARATED BIKE LANES IN FAIRMOUNT PARK , CONNECTING IT TO THE VIADUCT BIKE LANES , AND OF COURSE RECONNECTED THE PARK ACROSS VINE TO THE CONVENTION CENTER BEHEMOUTH…. AND ADDED SEPARATED BIKE LANES TO NORTH BROAD….PLUS INSTALLING REAL BIKE STORAGE IN SOME OF THAT UNUSED TUNNEL SPACE BETWEEN SUBURBAN ST AND CITY HALL….YOU’D HAVE A TRULLY ALTERNATE TRANSIT OPTION FOR PEOPLE AT VERY LITTLE COST….AND TO WHOMEVER WAS BEMOANING THE TOURISTS ON THE HIGHLINE…….. I DOUBT ALL THE PEOPLE EARNING A LIVING FROM THEM ARE COMPLAINING..
IF THIS CAN BE DONE RIGHT AND COMPLETE……IT WOULD BE A GAME CHANGER

Astralmilkan says:

TO THOSE IN CHINA TOWN WHO SAY THEY WANT TO TEAR IT DOWN…..THINK OF HOW MANY MORE PEOPLE
WOULD VISIT CHINA TOWN IF THEY COULD DO IT WITH A BIKE THROUGH A BEAUTIFUL PARK WITHOUT HAVING TO DEAL WITH THE TRAFFIC, PARKING, AND STRESS…….BUSINESS WOULD BOOM…

Marcos says:

looking good, but hiring a big star name architect will be a better choice. The design will be better and it will create more attention. This will also attract more top name designers to design high rise residential towers along the viaduct. Think Big Philly!

Tristan says:

I like this idea! The park is beautiful and will add even more personality to the city. I think these types of projects are way better than these casinos that are coming up. Isn’t one coming in inquirer building..? Either way, we need more parks :) Especially one as unique as this.