Wrong Side Of The Tracks: Newkirk Viaduct Monument In Photos

 

Pedestrians not advised: Newkirk Viaduct Monument seen across the Northeast Corridor | Photo: Bradley Maule

Pedestrians not advised: Newkirk Viaduct Monument seen across the Northeast Corridor | Photo: Bradley Maule

Having read Brad Peniston’s story, Who Moved The Newkirk Viaduct Monument, before it was published, and seeing the incredible amount of research he put into getting its full story, I knew that some contemporaneous photos were absolutely necessary. That one of the oldest pieces of public art in the city, designed by Thomas Ustick Walter no less, lies in ruin under an overpass next to the most famous railroad trunk in the country, is a little mind boggling and a lot Philadelphian.

I count myself among those who had only seen it from a passing train, knowing little more about it than what I’d read in Sara Kelly’s “I Wanna Know” column in the Weekly over a decade ago and a bar conversation about it with Necessity For Ruins penman Chris Dougherty.

Getting down to photograph it, under the 49th Street Bridge passing over Amtrak and Septa in Southwest Philly—it’s the left you make off of Woodland when you’re going to Bartram’s Garden—requires a little climbing, balance, and hope that those high flying trains stay on the tracks. (One kindly conductor even honked hello to me—how polite!) Once you’re there, you can’t help but think, “damn, this oughta be somewhere people can see it.” Like, for example, the Grays Ferry Crescent. The current Grays Ferry Bridge, which passes directly over the Crescent, is the grandchild of the crossing for which the monument was built. Though the monument was originally placed on the west bank, this east bank location seems appropriate enough. Or, as Brad mentioned, the Bartram’s Mile portion of the Schuylkill Banks is coming down the line eventually. Relocating it here would keep the monument on its proper west side, while serving as an immediate nod to history in a new park. We can all agree that either of these places seems more suitable than the current trackside plop stop.

Until either of these things happens, the Newkirk Viaduct Monument remains on the side of the railroad tracks, just under 49th Street in Southwest Philly. These photos were taken this morning, Wednesday, March 13th.

Looking down from 49th Street | Photo: Bradley Maule

Looking down from 49th Street | Photo: Bradley Maule

Newkirk Viaduct Monument seen from the Newkirk Viaduct's descendant, Grays Ferry Bridge | Photo: Bradley Maule

Newkirk Viaduct Monument seen from the Newkirk Viaduct’s descendant, Grays Ferry Bridge | Photo: Bradley Maule

Take me to the place I love ... take me all the way | Photo: Bradley Maule

Take me to the place I love … take me all the way | Photo: Bradley Maule

Vertical photo is vertical | Photo: Bradley Maule

Vertical photo is vertical | Photo: Bradley Maule

Look quick, this train's high speed: Acela passes the Newkirk Viaduct Monument | Photo: Bradley Maule

Look quick, this train’s high speed: Acela passes the Newkirk Viaduct Monument | Photo: Bradley Maule

About the author

Bradley Maule is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and the creator of Philly Skyline. He's a native of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and he's hung his hat in Shippensburg, Germantown, G-Ho, Fishtown, Portland OR, Brewerytown, and now Mt. Airy. He just can't get into Twitter, but he's way into Instagram @mauleofamerica.



3 Comments


  1. Love your idea of moving it to the crescent park . That makes all the sense in the world .thanks for the photos

  2. Harry Kyriakodis

    The Oliver Evans [Philadelphia] Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology (www.workshopoftheworld.com) has mentioned its desire to move this monument someplace, but nothing has happened. The group may have some money for such a worthwhile project…

    Years ago, I won a free tour for IDing this monument for a local tour guide!

  3. Thanks, Harry. I’ve passed that along to Andrew Goodman (praxis@design.upenn.edu), PennPraxis’ point person for gathering public input on the Bartram’s Mile project.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
The True Center Of The City Revealed

The True Center Of The City Revealed

October 13, 2017  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

City Hall may be the "heart" of Philadelphia, but an unassuming corner in North Philly is the true center of the city. Harry K. explores the evolution of Penn's greene country towne and how Philadelphia has a history of being the center of attention > more

LIGHTS! MUSIC! ACTION! Historic Lansdowne Theater Poised For A Comeback

LIGHTS! MUSIC! ACTION! Historic Lansdowne Theater Poised For A Comeback

October 11, 2017  |  Vantage

After 30 years' slumber, Lansdowne's sumptuous Art Deco movie palace is ready to wake up, and rouse Main Street too, with music and community spirit. Ben Leech has the story > more

Wish You Were Here: Postcards From The Past Recall

Wish You Were Here: Postcards From The Past Recall “Real Philadelphia”

October 10, 2017  |  Vantage

The Athenaeum of Philadelphia's new exhibition, "Real Philadelphia: Selections from the Robert M. Skaler Postcard Collection," puts elusive images of working class city life in the limelight. Contributor Karen Chernick has the review > more

Designing The Future Of Healthcare With Stephen Klasko

Designing The Future Of Healthcare With Stephen Klasko

October 4, 2017  |  Vantage

Dr. Stephen Klasko wants to disrupt traditional hospital care and integrate medicine into our everyday life. Through service and information delivery systems similar to Netflix, Apple stores, and virtual reality, the president and CEO of Jefferson Healthcare System believes the future of our well being lies in smart design. Contributor Hilary Jay, founder of DesignPhiladelphia, sits down with Dr. Klasko to discuss breaking the status quo of the medical industry with user-minded health care > more

Mid Mod Prison-Motel On The Schuylkill River Paroled

Mid Mod Prison-Motel On The Schuylkill River Paroled

October 3, 2017  |  The Shadow Knows

It's a Mid-century Modern motor lodge. With prison cells. It's one of Philly's most perplexing landmarks on the Schuylkill River. The Shadow has the lowdown > more

Four Policy Tools To Advocate For At The Mayor's Historic Preservation Task Force Meeting

Four Policy Tools To Advocate For At The Mayor’s Historic Preservation Task Force Meeting

September 29, 2017  |  Soapbox

On Tuesday, October 3, Mayor Kenney's new Historic Preservation Task Force will hold an open meeting inviting the public to voice opinions and concerns over the state of preservation in the city. Contributor Starr Herr-Cardillo presents four effective policies adopted by cities across the country that could aid in solving Philadelphia's ongoing preservation crisis > more