Illuminating PBS Documentary on the Reading Viaduct

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A screen shot from PBS Digital Studios’ “Unusual Spaces No. 2″

Even those who oppose the idea of turning the abandoned Philadelphia Reading Railroad tracks into public space will have a hard time feeling cynical about this short film from PBS Digital, a series by Raymond A. Schillinger. Featured on Gizmodo yesterday, among other places, the four-minute documentary is told through the eyes of Paul vanMeter, the project’s most tenacious advocate, and the founder of ViaductGreene, who died shortly after this film was made. It’s safe to say that without vanMeter’s passion for the project, we would not be where we are today.

The film is probably the best primer for people looking to understand what and where the project is, both underground and aboveground, and what it looks like now. Even I, as someone steeped in this subject matter, feel like I have a better sense of what’s being proposed now that I’ve seen it. Certainly, the scenes shot underground are immensely helpful.

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Morning Headlines: City Promises Funds for Reading Viaduct and Rail Park Project

A 2012 preliminary design rendering of the Septa-owned portion of the Reading Viaduct are prepared by Studio Bryan Hanes and Urban Engineers. Photo credit:  Reading Viaduct Project.

2012 preliminary design rendering by Studio Bryan Hanes and Urban Engineers.
Photo credit: Reading Viaduct Project.

Long-time supporters of the Reading Viaduct and Rail Park project must be reeling at the latest backing the plan has received. From Philly.com:

Without fanfare, the city and the state have included millions of dollars in their latest budgets toward the first phase of the project: transforming the quarter-mile railroad “spur” that curves through the city’s burgeoning Loft District and dead-ends onto North Broad Street.

The news comes months after the Reading Viaduct Project and Friends of the Rail Park, two local organizations who’ve been pushing for development of the abandoned rail line, joined forces last October.

Elevated park on rail viaduct finally firming up [Philly.com]

Meanwhile, in other news…
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Very Sad News: RIP Paul VanMeter

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An image of the Reading Viaduct from the VIADUCTgreene website.

Natural causes can be cruel. Paul VanMeter, who co-founded VIADUCTgreene, died on Thursday at a too-young 54. Paul was one of those advocates for the city who get down into the nitty-gritty of one very specific goal — in his case, the rehabilitation of the defunct span of railroad tracks known as the Reading Viaduct. His obituary in the Reading Eagle said, “Paul had a life-long love and near-encyclopedic knowledge of trains, railroads, and their influence in shaping landscapes and communities” — knowledge he brought to his work with the non-profit.

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WATCH: Awesome Video About Plans for Reading Viaduct Park

Friends of the Rail Park have released a beautifully-shot promo/fundraiser video for their exciting Reading Viaduct project, which if realized, would span from NoLibs to the berth of Fairmount Park, by the Art Museum. (The first phase, slated for construction in 2014, would turn the old viaduct, north of RTM, into Highline-esque green space.) The only thing that would make this video more visually appealing is if Ed Rendell had used a lint brush before appearing on camera. C’mon Ed!

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Property’s Philebrity Awards Picks

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Each year the website Philebrity solicits votes for its annual awards, which include categories ranging from General Fabulousness to Non-Profit of the Year. This year there are several contenders who speak to Property’s mission. They are people and organizations who make significant, consistent contributions to the discourse around Philadelphia’s built environment, who promote design and architecture, who advocate to make the city a better place to live, who educate its residents. We can’t speak to Phoodie of the Year, but we chose our winners in categories we feel are relevant.

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Rally for the Rail Park This Saturday

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The High Line in New York has provided Philadelphia with a blueprint of what to do with the Reading Viaduct in Philadelphia. But a good idea needs money. And this week the Friends of the Rail Park are hosting a fundraiser along the viaduct.

The party starts at sunset, and what better way to start a party than with a pig roast, pizza, and more from the Thirteenth Street Kitchens (Cafe Lift, Prohibition Taproom, and Bufad). Rival Bros. will be providing coffee to keep the party going, alongside beer from Yards Brewing Co. 

And when the sun goes down, the party really starts. Belly dancing fire throwers will be doing just that, amongst some other awesome entertainment:

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Today in Overblown Listings Copy: the Reading Viaduct = the NY Highline

The listings copy for what seems to be a perfectly nice two-bedroom, bi-level Callowhill loft reads:

Remarks: Walk to Lift Cafe and Prohibition Taproom or walk Philly’s version of the Highline called the Reading Viaduct!

Philly’s version of the Highline? The whole problem is that Philly doesn’t have a version of the Highline. And the Reading Viaduct is far, far, far from anything like the Highline.

To wit…

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Trestle Inn Adding Brunch, More December Fun

The Trestle Inn at 11th and Callowhill will be adding Sunday brunch starting on New Year’s Day. How better to start the New Year than by drinking bacon washed bourbon cocktails while a drag queen performs your favorite tunes (Sounds like 2012 is going to be a year David Lynch is going to be proud of)?

Brunch fare includes:

  • House-made sticky buns
  • Nutella and banana crepes
  • cereal, made with house made granola
  • salads
  • biscuits and gravy
  • English breakfast
  • savory crepes
  • bison bacon burger

The menu will also include new hearty vegan and vegetarian options. Since this is a brunch where drinking would seem to be a must, there’s no surprise bar manager Jake Goldberg has created some special cocktails:

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