The Rail Park’s first quarter-mile section, which officially opens on June 14, follows the gentle curve of a former rail spur, rising from Noble Street just east of Broad to the middle of the 1100 block of Callowhill Street. Ultimately, the Rail Park is envisioned as a three-mile linear park that might someday connect 10 neighborhoods, from Poplar to Brewerytown. The first phase has cost about $11 million, and reuse of the rest of the elevated viaduct as a park easily could exceed $50 million.
Only six months after the October groundbreaking for the new Chinatown Eastern Tower Community Center project ERASERHOOD has obtained a copy of the artist’s conception for a second tower in the Chinatown North neighborhood. Our source required complete anonymity before agreeing to meet with us. The image, labeled simply, “Callowhill Containment Facility #1,” depicts what looks like an extremely large building planned for a site in the vicinity of 10th and Carlton Streets. (If the scale of the illustration is accurate, this building would be even larger than the Terminal Commerce Building, former headquarters of the Reading Railroad, located at Broad and Callowhill Streets.)
When asked if this was planned as a residential development, our source paused for a moment before answering, “not exactly.” Further queries regarding the purpose of this strange looking building were ignored. The source did admit the document was obtained while serving as an intern for a large law-enforcement agency.
Before fleeing, the source mumbled something about a glass box and somebody named Judy, finishing our interview with the cryptic phrase, “Callowhill isn’t exactly Nightvale, but still…”
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.”