The greening of Philadelphia continues as the first phase of the Rail Park — Philly’s hotly anticipated elevated park and recreational pathway funded and built by Center City District — gets an official opening date just in time for the start of the summer season.
On Thursday, June 14, a quarter-mile stretch of new urban greenspace opens to the public where the Reading Railroad once ran.
RAIL PARK PHASE I FAST FACTS
- The first complete phase of the Rail Park opens on Thursday, June 14.
- The section curves southeast from Broad and Noble streets to 11th and Callowhill streets.
- Visitors can enjoy lush greenery, plentiful seating, public art and elevated city views.
- Entry to the Rail Park is free, with entrances at Broad and Noble streets, 13th and Noble streets and Callowhill Street between 11th and 12th streets.
Phase I’s footprint stretches from Broad and Noble streets, jumps up to the Reading Viaduct overhead and ends above the 1100 block of Callowhill Street. When visitors traverse the first piece of the park, they can look forward to lush plants and trees, public art by local artists, plenty of seating and space for gathering, bench-style swings and first-rate elevated city views.
Inspired by urban elevated parks like the High Line in New York and Promenade Plantée in Paris, three distinct sections make up the plans for the Rail Park: the Viaduct, a half-mile-long elevated iron pathway that’s twice the width of the High Line; the Cut, which spans 9 blocks and dips 30 feet below street level; and the Tunnel, a 3,000-foot-long industrial stone passageway made of vault and brick. Phase I makes up part of the Viaduct.
When the three sections come together, the resulting pedestrian-friendly pathway will connect 10 different Philadelphia neighborhoods to Fairmount Park and Center City and transform the site of two obsolete Reading Railroad lines into a vibrant public space.
The plan for the Rail Park sprouted from a neighborhood organization’s vision to build a public park in place of the abandoned Reading Viaduct. In 2010, that organization — now known as Friends of the Rail Park — partnered with Center City District to begin work on Phase I of the Rail Park.
Over the next eight years, Center City District commissioned an environmental and feasibility analysis, commissioned a concept and schematic design study (with the city’s Commerce Department and the Department of Parks & Recreation) and hosted neighborhood meetings and online surveys. Contributions from the William Penn Foundation and Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust also aided in the park’s creation.
Grab some fresh air and see the promising beginnings of this elevated park starting June 14.