November 21, 2016 Neighborhoods ·

Philadelphia turning railroad ruins into elevated rail park

Originally published by The New York Times →

The New York Times | After more than 10 years of planning, Philadelphia is taking the first steps in transforming an abandoned, overgrown rail line that cuts through the heart of the city into a lush and lively public park.

Officials broke ground last month on the first phase of the Rail Park, the City of Brotherly Love’s answer to New York City’s High Line. The first section starts in the gritty, post-industrial neighborhood called Callowhill, where a quarter-mile ruin of the former Reading Viaduct will become a walkable, elevated oasis.

“It’s going to completely change this area, if it actually happens,” said Alex George, 33, who rents an apartment one street away. He said the park has been talked about for so long, it’s developed the air of myth.

“The locals around here see it as a legend, something put in our faces as a way to raise rents,” he said.

This time, it’s real. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced a $3.5 million grant for the viaduct section of the Rail Park in September, allowing construction to begin before the end of the year. Other funding for the $10.3 million project comes from the city, foundations and donations.

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