Should 30th Street Station Follow the Lead of D.C.’s Union Station?

Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC

Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC

The revamped West Plaza at one of Philadelphia’s busiest–as a matter of fact, one of the country’s busiest–stations was only a taste of the larger transformation planned for 30th Street Station, as the Inquirer‘s Paul Nussbaum reminds us. Senator Bob Casey, Nussbaum reports, recently pointed to Union Station in Washington D.C. as an example of what 30th Street could be, calling on the upcoming papal visit and Philadelphia’s selection as the next city to hold the Democratic National Convention in 2016 to inspire “new urgency into planners’ visions for it and its University City environs.”

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Morning Headlines: What Will 30th Street Station Look Like in 2040?

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We already know that our beloved 30th Street Station–yes, we’re still calling it that–is one of the busiest hubs in the nation. But what will it be like in the year 2040? As Jim Saksa of PlanPhilly points out, that’s partially up to you, boss:

The district plan is a joint effort by Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, SEPTA and other stakeholders to create an implementable vision for the 175-acre area surrounding the station.

In the coming months, the team will develop three different scenarios for the district come 2040. Following another round of public feedback and feasibility studies, those three scenarios will be synthesized into a single District Plan, which will be fully implementable the day it’s released (sometime around fall 2016).

So, do you really want to see the rail yards north of 30th Street Station capped and turned into a platform for the next office and residential towers in a confluence of transportation, residential and commercial activity? Then you kind of have to get involved.

In order for the rail yard cap to happen, that land (technically, the air rights above it) needs to be worth enough to justify the tremendous cost of covering it. Just as the development of Hudson Yards is covering the price of putting a lid on the West Side Yard, burying the rail yard would be effectively paid for with the rent from the skyscrapers built on top.

Here’s to get (and stay) involved in the process. You can also take this handy survey to help out even more!

Will plans for 30th St. Station District include capping rail yards? That’s up to you [PlanPhilly]

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Tale of the Tape: Train Wreck at Beck’s Cajun Cafe

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As Serious Eats pointed out in its rundown of Philadelphia cheesesteaks, under seasoning is a big issue. Even spots that aren’t just phoning it in often lack adding any salt or pepper. Under seasoning is not an issue on the Train Wreck at Beck’s Cajun Cafe. This Philadelphia take on the Po Boy adds Andouille sausage and salami to the traditional cheesesteak.

Today we take the Train Wreck for a spin and see how the Creole take on the cheesesteak stacks up.

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Bearded Ladies and Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus Team Up for Edith Piaf Cabaret [UPDATED]

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If at 6 p.m. on Monday, October 13th, you suddenly find yourself surrounded by a singing ensemble of Edith Piafs as you head for the train home, don’t be alarmed. You’re simply being led to a very special performance by queer-centric performance cabaret troupe The Bearded Ladies and Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus (PGMC) on The Porch at 30th Street Station. Pull up a seat and let that train go by. Trust us, you’ll want to stick around for this.

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Proposal: Bring Amtrak Trains to Center City

Amtrak_Vermonter_at_Brattleboro_in_2004

It’s the easiest thing in the world to board an Amtrak train in Philly and be in New York barely an hour later. Would it be an even better process if Philadelphians could board that train in Center City?

Bob Previdi thinks so. A transit expert — and former spokesman for retired Council President Anna Verna — Previdi points out in an opinion piece for Philadelphia Business Journal there’s already a tunnel from 30th Street Station to Suburban and Market Street stations used by SEPTA. Just let a couple of Amtrak trains per hour use that tunnel, he says, and the results might be startling:

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Train Geeks Freaking Out Over 30th Street Station Renaming

30th Street Station. Photo | Jeff Fusco

30th Street Station. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Earlier this week, we told you that United States Congressman Chaka Fattah wants to rename 30th Street Station after his barrier-breaking predecessor, William H. Gray III, making it the clunkily named William H. Gray III 30th Street Station that precisely zero people will call it. It’s a nice enough idea and not one that you’d expect people to get up in arms about. But you apparently have never met a train geek. Read more »

Bill to Rename 30th Street Station Passes the House

30th Street Station. Photo | Jeff Fusco

30th Street Station. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Congress cannot find a solution to the situation at the border, but it’s nice to know they can still agree on some things: On Monday, the bill that would rename 30th Street Station after Bill Gray passed in the House by voice vote. We told you last month about the plan to rename it William H. Gray III 30th Street Station.

Gray, who died last July, was the first African-American to serve as majority whip in the House of Representatives and the first to chair the House Budget Committee. The bill was introduced by Chaka Fattah, Gray’s successor, with the entire Pennsylvania House delegation signing on as co-sponsors.

“Renaming this historic station in Bill Gray’s honor would be a fitting tribute for a man and leader who did so much for the Philadelphia community—not only as a public servant, but as a businessman, friend, father, and minister,” Fattah said in a release last month. “His dedication to his constituency knew no bounds, but he was particularly passionate about investing resources in America’s infrastructure, and gave undue time and commitment to making 30th Street Station one of the finest train facilities in this country.”

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30th Street Station Among Nation’s Busiest

30th Street Station. Photo | Jeff Fusco

30th Street Station. Photo | Jeff Fusco

“Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station is the third-busiest Amtrak station in the U.S., trailing only New York City’s Penn Station and Washington, D.C.’s Union Station,” Technically Philly reports. More than 4 million Amtrak passengers passed through 30th Street Station last year — a number that doesn’t include additional use from SEPTA riders.

See Technically Philly’s report for a map of all Amtrak destinations and their relative busy-ness.

30th Street Station Will Likely Be Renamed After Bill Gray

30th Street Station. Photo | Jeff Fusco

30th Street Station. Photo | Jeff Fusco

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah Wednesday introduced legislation to rename 30th Street Station after his predecessor, Bill Gray. The bill was cosponsored by every Pennsylvania House member, Democratic and Republican, because they’re politicians and politicians love naming things after themselves.

Fattah told the Inquirer he expects swift action on the bill, perhaps by August. And it’ll pass, and 30th Street Station will become William H. Gray III 30th Street Station, and everyone will still just call it 30th. It’s kind of like the N3RD Street of train stations.

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It’s Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for 30th Street Station

30th street station revision

Rendering of the new vision for the area around 30th Street Station via Amtrak.

As first reported by PhillyDeals, Amtrak has announced the members of the team that will, in the next two years, develop the joint master plan for the Drexel-funded development project around 30th Street Station.

The group will be led by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), one of the most influential architecture, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. They’ll work in partnership with Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN, and HR&A Advisors, but be guided by a “coordinating committee” consisting of representatives from (deep breath, now) Amtrak, Drexel, Brandywine Realty Trust, SEPTA, PennDOT, City of Philadelphia, New Jersey Transit, CSX Corporation, Penn, PIDC, Schuylkill River Development Corporation and University City District.

Will there be many meetings? There will be many meetings. (Feel free to send the leftover bowls of candy this way, guys.)

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