Planning for the Reading Viaduct park began in 2010 when the Center City District commissioned an environmental and feasibility analysis of the Viaduct to determine its fate. The study revealed that it would be far less costly to transform the quarter-mile spur of the viaduct into an urban green space than demolish it and deal with any contaminated soil, which could be buried underneath. This information then encouraged the district to work on a plan for the park with Urban Engineers, Cecil Baker + Partners, and Friends of the High Line, and New York City. In 2011, the Center City District commissioned a concept design from Urban Engineers and Studio| Bryan Hanes.
The team conducted extensive analysis and community surveys to determine preferences. The results of the study revealed that the community participants “strongly favored making the park an informal, leafy green space with plenty of grass and flowering plants, and with room to walk and sit.” As a result, the design for the park includes wide shady, tree-lined walking paths, seating, accessible entrances, an outdoor classroom and even a place for dogs. Read on to hear from Paul Levy, of Center City District, about what’s in store for this project.