Spur to Action: Philly Brings Elevated Park Plans into Focus

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Proposed entry to the SEPTA Spur (image courtesy of Studio Bryan Hanes).

Proposed entry to the SEPTA Spur (image courtesy of Studio Bryan Hanes).

Philly is one step closer to creating an elevated park on an abandoned rail viaduct. Studio Bryan Hanes and Urban Engineers, two firms collaborating on the design of the SEPTA Spur phase of Philadelphia’s Reading Viaduct, have released new images of the reclaimed railway that bring the proposal into focus. The Spur represents a significant step in realizing the vision of the elevated park with a primary entrance from Broad Street that rises from grade to the elevated rail line. The first phase stops just shy, however, of the wider, more programmable space on the main Viaduct.

SEPTA Spur on the west is the key entry point to the Reading Viaduct (image courtesy of Studio Bryan Hanes).

SEPTA Spur on the west is the key entry point to the Reading Viaduct (image courtesy of Studio Bryan Hanes).

As a development teaser, the Spur will serve as a crucial component of fundraising efforts by park advocates, Viaduct Greene and the Reading Viaduct Project, and the design’s reception could represent a make-or-break opportunity to complete the larger project. According to Bryan Hanes in an article from HiddenCity, “We have been working to maintain the industrial character of the space while finding the appropriate balance between program elements and the simple pleasure of being up off the ground in an awe-inspiring place.”

Funded primarily by the William Penn Foundation and the Poor Richards Charitable Trust, the Spur will make up just 9% of the total area of the proposed park. Although the dream of an elevated park so far remains a dream, construction of the SEPTA Spur would represent a huge accomplishment for the city of Philadelphia. As one local resident put it, “let’s just do it!”

Plan of SEPTA Spur (image courtesy of Studio Bryan Hanes).

Plan of SEPTA Spur (image courtesy of Studio Bryan Hanes).

Aerial of proposed park (image courtesy of Studio Bryan Hanes).

Aerial of proposed park (image courtesy of Studio Bryan Hanes).

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