Built in the 1890s, the Reading Viaduct is a combination of embankment sections, bridged by steel structures and arched masonry bridges, that runs 10 blocks through the Callowhill and Chinatown North neighborhoods, from Vine Street to Fairmount Avenue.
Train service on the Viaduct was discontinued in 1984, when the Center City commuter tunnel was opened. Today the Viaduct’s four elevated tracks have been overtaken by grasses and trees. It’s two branches offer spectacular views of immediate neighborhoods and the Philadelphia skyline.
Although seen by some as a blight, a redeveloped Viaduct will act as a magnet for residential and commercial development in the surrounding neighborhoods, including West Poplar, Brandywine East, and Northern Liberties.
In 2003, the City of Philadelphia obtained a grant to fund a study of alternatives for the development of the Viaduct. The study analyzed the cost to demolish the Viaduct compared to the cost of reclaiming the Viaduct for use as a linear park. Conducted by Urban Engineers, the study concluded that the estimated cost to demolish the Viaduct was almost 10 times greater than the cost to address existing environmental concerns and redevelop the structure into a park.
Development as a park and recreational pathway, including landscaping, benches, access ramps and staircases, was estimated to cost $5.1 million, whereas demolition of the structure was estimated to cost between $35.5 million and $51.2 million.
The Reading Viaduct Project is seeking the support of State and local officials and government agencies for its vision of a redeveloped Viaduct. They are also actively exploring partnerships with private developers who share in our vision of the adaptive reuse of the Viaduct as a catalyst for continued residential and commercial development of the surrounding neighborhoods.
If you want more information on this project or would like to get involved, visit www.readingviaduct.org.