Walking the Eraserhood: Reading Viaduct

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“Walking the Eraserhood” represents an ongoing street-level exploration of the Callowhill district and surrounding environs, a sort of virtual walking tour of the neighborhood.

The spot just outside the Viaduct Gate is an excellent site to just stop and look around. To the north stands Ballinger & Perot’s Rebman building. With luck, twin spires of the endangered historical Church of the Assumption are still visible to the northeast. Due east, in the distance, the three smokestacks of the Willow Street Steam Generation Plant are just visible. Southeast from here one can appreciate the graceful sweep of the final siding of the City Branch as it joins the main line of the Reading Viaduct, pointing toward – but no longer reaching – the Reading Terminal. An abandoned cluster of electrical services for the former railroad still stands at the intersection of the two lines, dominating the 1100 block of Callowhill Street. Beyond this massive ruin, one can just see a bit of the former Frank C. Maurone Company building. Originally this building housed a wholesale distributor of Bazaar and Carnival Supplies. Currently the site is filled with art studios and galleries of many sizes and descriptions.
Directly to the south of the gate, the stone face of the Viaduct drops straight down to the former rail yard and coal depot for the Reading Railroad. Currently this site is occupied by parking, a yard filled with diesel generators and electrical transformers (presumably associated with the Sungard facility in Terminal Commerce) and a single historical coal shed, currently shuttered. Beyond this site one can see the historical Wolf Building on the east end of the 1200 block of Callowhilll Street, currently filled with a creative mix of art studios, performance venues, residences, and even high tech companies. The west end of the same block is occupied by the 1909 Ballinger & Perot designed Goodman Brothers & Hinlein Company Building, currently filled with residences.
Peering further to the south, just to the left of the Wolf Building, a visitor can view the shiny façade of the former Smaltz Bulding, designed in 1912 also by Ballinger & Perot. Currently this building is known as Goldtex Apartments, and sports a modern skin that unmistakably differentiates it from neighboring sites of the same era. While standing here, one might also to look to the southwest, between Goodman Brothers and Terminal Commerce, just above the white bulk of Packard Motor, to get a clear view of more modern structures closer to Market Street, such as the Comcast Building.

Copyright © 2010-2013, Bob Bruhin. All rights reserved.

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