Philadelphia’s Abandoned Railway Could Become The Area’s Own High Line [Video]

Philadelphia’s Abandoned Railway Could Become The Area’s Own High Line [Video]

A mini documentary from PBS looks into the potential of turning abandoned spaces into a public park.

Leah Gonzalez
  • 28 may 2014


PBS Digital Studios recently uploaded a second episode to its Unusual Spaces series. The one features the abandoned railway that exists below Philadelphia and explored the potential of turning the elevated portion of the railway into a usable public space.

The mini documentary featured the late Paul VanMeter, who is a landscape gardener by trade and one of the founders of the non-profit organization now known as Friends of the Rail Park. In the video, VanMeter takes viewers on a tour of the abandoned railway, which is about three miles of old cement structures, debris, and gardens full of weed. VanMeter also talks about the plans that can turn the city’s “post-industrial spaces” into something like a partially-submerged, partially-elevated public park. If transformed into a usable public space, the old railway can become a 3-mile linear park that is useful to gardeners, pedestrians, and cyclists.


Plans to transform the elevated rail track, known as the Reading Duct, into an elevated park have been over ten years in the making, but this year it seems that it won’t be long before the first phase of the project can get started. The first phase covers what is commonly known as the “SEPTA spur” and entails turning that area into a park that features amazing views of the Center City. The city has pledged $1.8 million over two years from its capital budget, and the state has included $3.5 million in its Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for the project. The amounts are not guaranteed and the project will still need private funding, but the support will help kickstart the project.

The organization Friends of the Rail Park takes inspiration from the success of the High Line in New York to resurrect these types of spaces into something that the city can benefit from and be proud of as well. VanMeter passed away earlier this year, but the organization that he helped create continues to work towards utilizing these unused, abandoned spaces into useful places that can help rejuvenate parts of the city.

Friends of the Rail Park

[h/t] Gizmodo,


Transformable Table Maximizes Utility In Small Spaces

Design & Architecture
Syndicated Yesterday

How Fashion Became All About Fonts

Why a new wave of designs have put typography front and center on your clothing

Retail Yesterday

GM And Audi Are Experimenting With Car Rentals In SF

The automakers are trying something new to capture the segment of urban dwellers who don't want to own a car


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Travel Yesterday

This Vertical Forest Hotel Will Improve The Air Around It

An architectural firm is creating a lush mountain lodging in China with so much greenery that it will actually clean the atmosphere

Related Expert

John Geraci

New Digital Products

Europe Yesterday

This Company Believes Insects Can Provide Biofuel To Power Our Future

A Polish group is testing out a new factory concept that can provide a source of renewable energy, and even serve space missions

Technology Yesterday

Music Venue Caters To Virtual Reality Events

Boiler Room has launched the first VR hub for content creators to capture special footage for the masses

Gaming & Play Yesterday

Automated Chessboard Lets You Play Against Anyone In The World

Square Off is an AI-powered board that can move the pieces on its own


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Creative Leadership Expert: Experiencing A Seismic Shift From Brand Loyalty To Interface Loyalty

Marc Shillum, founder of Chief Creative Office, explains why product designers must rethink the way they capture consumer attention

PSFK Labs october 25, 2016

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Technology Yesterday

Contraband Recorder Helps Those In Need Capture Captive Conversations

Designer Marianna Mezhibovkaya created the device to help prison inmates capture crucial evidence of abuse

Advertising Yesterday

A Compelling Brand Purpose Is Never Born In The Boardroom

Strategist and Designer Anna-Rae Morris shares why she believes all brands exist for a reason, and how Snapchat has upended our behavior

Fitness & Sport Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Xs And Os Of Performance-Enhanced Sports

WHOOP, ShotTracker, Rithmio, PlaySight, STYR Labs, EverybodyFights and Lift / Next Level Floats explain that we're only at the iceberg's tip of performance enhancement

Retail Yesterday

Kodak’s Smartphone Is Inspired By A Retro Camera

Ektra is an Android phone with a powerful lens aimed at photographers

Sustainability Yesterday

Modern Home Created Entirely Out Of Modular Shipping Crates

A project in Ecuador used the ubiquitous material to design a spacious and industrial-chic house

Retail Yesterday

Retail Concept Offers Food Hall Inspired Space For Online Brands

The store will offer a lower cost way for internet entrepreneurs to try physical retailing

Advertising Yesterday

Disney Retells Beauty And The Beast On Snapchat

In a partnership with LACMA, the entertainment platform drew from over 130,000 works in the museum's collection

No search results found.