“There’s beauty in the way it is now, but there is tremendous beauty in the way that it could be in the future.”

Over the past few months, I’ve seen several individuals who I follow on Instagram upload photos taken at the Reading Viaduct. What I could tell from these photos is that the space is very much abandoned, strewn with graffiti and unruly vegetation. However, beautiful in its own right, I made it a summer goal to make my way over there to snap some photos and see this under-explored location for myself.

As it turns out, figuring out how to access the viaduct proved to be quite tricky, and an extensive online search not only provided me with the entrance’s exact location, but also made me aware of plans for an elaborate park to be built on the very same grounds in the near future. While I was thrilled to learn about such an exciting project in my own city, this realization made me even more motivated to check out the space, as I wanted a chance to see it in its pre-construction state. As such, Dan and I headed over yesterday evening and had a blast exploring. The juxtaposition of the abandoned railroad structures covered in colorful street art with wildflowers and wild berries was quite striking.  My favorite part was the tire swing that we discovered toward the end. I highly encourage any adventurers to check it out before it’s too late.

With that being said, the vision for the project is that The Rail Park will eventually span 50 city blocks, uniting many Philadelphia neighborhoods. The Reading Viaduct, initially built in 1893 and ultimately abandoned in 1992, will be the first phase of the project and is slated for construction in 2014. Whether the city will break ground before the year’s end is uncertain, but either way, the start of something beautiful is on the horizon.

If you’re interested in learning more about this project, visit The Rail Park’s website. Be sure to check out the informative and inspiring video on the homepage.

“What does a place like this mean for a post-industrial city? It’s a way to communicate that past, but it’s also a way to reclaim those spaces. I think it’s that collision of past and future that makes The Rail Park so exciting.”