Inga Saffron on the Rail Park

2 min readPosted June 13, 2018

Pulitizer Prize winning architecture columnist Inga Saffron has been writing about the Rail Park for the Inquirer since 2004, when it was known as the “viaduct”.

In 2011 she discusses a study that found it would cost $50 million to demolish the viaduct structure, but $36 million to retrofit it as a park – with higher appreciations for nearby real estate to boot.

In November 2012, Saffron reported that there were two competing long-term visions for use of the “cut” or the depressed railroad bed that lays between the Rail Park and the Pennsylvania Avenue tunnel nearby the Art Museum Target.

One proposal would turn the “lowline” into a Bus Rapid Transit corridor, the other was the viaduct project known at that time as “Viaduct Greene”. Viaduct Greene was a brainchild of Paul vanMeter, an early advocate of a wild-like experience for the viaduct structure. vanMeter passed in 2014 from cardiac arrest, and by that time he had a parting of ways with the organization that would become Friends of the Rail Park. However, he and Liz Maillie were key forces in the popularization of what they branded as “viaductgreene” (in their preferred capitalization).

In March 2015, Saffron reported about the William Penn Foundation and Knight Foundation teaming up to grant the Rail Park $1 million. At the time, Paul Levy’s Center City District was said to be managing the construction but would not be running the park.

“The William Penn Foundation has long been the dominant force in the creation of new parks around the city. It spends about $13 million a year to underwrite park design and construction, and is responsible for launching Sister Cities Park, the Race Street Pier, and last summer’s Spruce Street Harbor Park.”

In July 2016, Inga reported about the change to “Rail Park” and walked the path with Michael Garden, who is also pictured at the top of this page.

Inga also wrote about the Lasher Printing Building in January 2018, a large structure that overlooks the park’s Noble street entrance.

Inga covered the park’s opening in a April prospective.

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