We love that cities the world over are taking inspiration from New York’s elevated High Line Park, and Philadelphia could be next on the list to get one of their own. The long disused Reading Railroad stretches through Center City and has been overgrown with plants and weeds for years. To renew the space, three landscape architect grads have come up with a High Line-like plan that will be presented tonight at Next American City’s Storefront for Urban Innovation in Philadelphia.
The exhibition, called “Above, Below, Beyond: Futures for a Former Railroad”, was conceived by the students as a way to bring the abandoned railroad into conversation, hopefully inciting interest – even if it would mean the spurring other (competing) ideas. The Reading Viaduct and VIADUCTgreen have also designed plans, and the students hope that their exhibition will open a dialogue between the three groups to actually move forward on transforming the 1890s elevated railroad into useful park space.
The plans emphasize the rich wild vegetation currently overgrowing the abandoned track that weaves in and out of many of Philadelphia’s diverse neighborhoods. Over three miles of track inhabits the city, and with it an endless possibility for elevated park space. The exhibition will showcase different students’ plans, from a sculpture park to a bike path to a concert venue, each illustrated with design plans and models.
The railroad also runs parallel to the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, also known as the Museum Mile, as it is lined with premier cultural institutions. This puts the railroad track into the spotlight; with what the High Line has done for New York, this initiative could do for Philadelphia, especially in such close proximity of the museums.
The exhibition will run from October 12th to November 30th, hopefully inspiring the city to take advantage of this great underused space.