As we reach the end of 2017, the Rail Park is really taking shape. In the New Year we will start work on the 13th Street bridge and will open the park in time for spring. Continuing contributions are closing the small, remaining gap, but you can still help the Center City District Foundation fully fund the project. Make this transformational park a reality by making a gift today.
Our Rail Park Benefactor Program offers a number of donor options, including naming
opportunities for park swings, benches, tiered seating and hanging planter boxes. Only a few remain!
You can also make a donation in any amount and designate it toward construction of the Rail Park at fundtherailpark.org
The Center City District (CCD), Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC) and Center City District Foundation (CCDF) work together to enhance the vitality and competitiveness of Philadelphia’s downtown. In 1991 the business leadership organization CPDC created the CCD business improvement district to deliver daily services with the goal of making Center City clean and safe. This helped transform Center City into a vibrant 24-hour downtown, attractive to businesses, residents, students, shoppers and tourists. In addition, the CCD is responsible for the management of Dilworth, Sister Cities, John F. Collins and Cret Parks, four extraordinary public spaces in the heart of Center City. CCDF, the charitable affiliate of the CCD, was launched in 2016 to support the next generation of public space improvements in Center City Philadelphia.
For years, the area north of the Vine Street Expressway, now most commonly known as Callowhill but considered Chinatown North to many, hosted many small factories and warehouses servicing the historic neighborhood’s many restaurants.
“Connecting Chinatown North to the historic core has always been the challenge for this Chinatown,” said Kathryn E. Wilson, Associate Professor of History at Georgia State University and author of the 2015 book Ethnic Renewal in Philadelphia’s Chinatown. “There was always Chinatown North [of Vine Street], but the expressway really cut off the top part of that community. A lot of what neighborhood planning has done since then is try to bridge that.”
That challenge is different than it used to be. Callowhill is undergoing a renaissance. The increasing number of old factories and warehouses being converted into condos and apartments, has led some developers to aspirationally call it “the Loft District.”
“There is an enormous amount of land that is largely unused and the connections to the rest of the transportation network are stronger than the Navy Yard,” Cheetham wrote on the comments section. “It would be a unique and extraordinary place for their headquarters.”
Of course, we had to hear more, so we caught up with the B-Corp boss at Azavea’s Callowhill HQ (on the 5th floor of 990 Spring Garden) to hear his thoughts on the project that dozens of cities are vying for.
Bryan Hanes, designer of the first phase of the Rail Park, likes to think the highly anticipated park will give visitors a glimpse of Philadelphia they’ve never seen before. The same way developments near the rivers have brought residents to places where only industry once stood, the Rail Park will do the same above the ground.
The “North Poles,” as they’re called, have spent the past few months undergoing some tweaks and enhancements, long after the city first installed the 55-feet-tall masts in late 2016. The newly-formed community and economic development group North Broad Renaissance was tasked with hiring a contractor to install upgraded LED lights for the poles—the initial lights were too faint for the naked eye—and maintain general upkeep of the 2.5-mile art installation between Wood Street and Glenwood Avenue.
At the Divine Lorraine on North Broad, the two iconic lights atop the apartment building have been shining since November, and residents have been moving into their new homes in the historic building since January 1. Now, all that’s really left for the $44 million restoration project is the return of its grand lobby.