Thursday, July 18, 2024

Follow

Contact

How the Rail Park’s planners are building an inclusive community space

The Rail Park. February 9, 2018 Category: EventFeaturedMediumMethod
Phase 1 of the Rail Park, the long-anticipated, city-controlled park that will stretch across 10 Philadelphia neighborhoods, is almost complete.

The full proposed site — think of its as Philly’s answer to the New York City High Line — is three miles long, starting at 9th Street and Fairmount Avenue heading south to 11th and Vine streets, then turning northwest just above Callowhill Street and ending at 31st Street and Girard Avenue.

Phase 1, a quarter mile from Broad and Noble streets to 11th and Callowhill streets, is currently under construction but slated to be finished in the next month, with an official opening in the spring. The space will eventually be greened and beautified, with room for public gatherings and “civic-scale swings.”

Michael Garden, vice chair of Friends of the Rail Park (FOTRP), the group responsible for raising funds for maintenance of and programming at the site, calls this phase a “proof of concept.”

(Courtesy photo)

It’s taken seven years to get here with the help of many organizational partners — the City of Philadelphia and Center City District, which was responsible for raising capital funds for construction, but also SEPTA, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Asian Arts Initiative and Conrail.

Traditionally, parks are designed top-down by urban planners, but “we are interested in creating a bottom-up park,” Garden said, with community members engaged throughout. If it’s going to attract folks from all over Philadelphia, “we need to know: What does it need to look like, and what would you need to do when you got there?”

From our Partners

To make that happen, FOTRP has been hosting events such as walking tours and Mural Arts pop-ups to attract people from around the city. Eventually, it will also host public planning meetings to ask for design feedback directly from the park’s neighbors.

FOTRP also tapped creative agency Little Giant Creative (the people behind The Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship) to advertise the impending Phase 1 completion via Party in the Park, a concert and fundraiser to be held at Voyeur on March 8. Proceeds will help turn the Conrail-owned Reading Railroad dining car currently perched on the east side of North Broad and Noble streets into a visitor’s center and programming site.

Little Giant’s Rachel Greenberg anticipates the concert won’t draw a typical crowd for a Rail Park event — which is exactly the point.

“Little Giant Creative’s mission is to represent the underrepresented, to a reach a more inclusive audience in everything we do,” she said. “What the event really hopes to do is bring awareness to a different audience” — in other words, not just funders and the Philly design community, but musicians, arts and culture nonprofits, entrepreneurs.

Garden agreed: “Our interest is in creating a park for all Philadelphians.”

Project

Friends of the Rail Park

Trending News

Remaining Fearless in the Face of Adversity: Part 1 The Future of Civil Rights Lauren Footman
Why Young People Aren't Utilizing One of Philly's Best Resources - The Library Andre Simms
Responsible Nonprofit Leadership Lindsay Kijewski
Remaining Fearless in the Face of Adversity: Part 2 Local Legislation Lauren Footman
Navigating Nonprofit Governance Monique Curry-Mims

Related Posts

April 18, 2023

Gentrification and affordable housing: What’s the remedy to a sick situation?

Read More >
February 22, 2023

From Disenfranchisement To Empowerment: Uplifting Neighborhoods

Read More >
February 15, 2023

Community-Centered Innovation for a Well City

Read More >