The Reading viaduct winds around the northern edge of Center City and for years remained a desolate reminder of Philadelphia’s industrial past. The idea of turning this unused railway into a park was tossed around in 2003, but when NYC opened their own “High Line,” the possibility of turning our viaduct into useable public green space became a reality.
After 15 years of planning, Phase 1 of Philadelphia’s Rail Park is now open to the public. This quarter mile stretch takes you from street level at Broad and Noble Streets to the elevated track bed. You can exit there on to Callowhill Street between 11th and 12th streets.
Watch Mayor Kenney and Parks & Rec Commisioner Kathryn Ott Lovell at the ribbon cutting below:
A cut out map on a metal wall at the Broad Street entrance depicts the types of industry that thrived in the surrounding neighborhood from the railway distributing and bringing in goods during the industrial revolution. You can even test your balance on a few long metal rails as you enter.
The Rail Park is carefully landscaped with wooden benches and planters along the way. The gravel walkway ascends to giant swing benches dangling from angled steel beams incorporated from the original viaduct. Visitors will find a fantastic view of the skyline and of the James Anderson mural on an adjacent building.
This park is comparable in size to Washington Avenue or Race Street Piers. It’s too small to get lost in for the day, but it’s absolutely perfect for a lunch break, or a stroll to get a breath of fresh air.
The Rail Park will be about 3 miles of elevated viaduct, “The Cut” which will be a street level section, and “The Tunnel” which will be a below ground section. It’s unclear when construction on the next phase will begin, but each section is one step closer to creating an amazing public space that will connect some of our most diverse neighborhoods.
Click here to plan your trip to the Rail Park's Street level entrance