A pair of clues to the renewed push to turn the City Branch (owned by SEPTA) and the North Branch (owned by the Reading Co.) into a sky-park (and the underground section of the City Branch into a subterranean pleasure ground):
Paul Levy’s conversion. For years, students in Levy’s University of Pennsylvania course on urban redevelopment have been studying the potential adaptation of the Viaduct into a park. “They always positioned it as a connector, and I always responded, ‘a connector to what?’,” he explained to me. Levy never bought it, and therefore never really thought seriously about the project. After going to New York to walk the High Line, Levy’s position on the Viaduct being a connector didn’t change. Instead, the High Line enabled him to see the Viaduct’s potential as a neighborhood center, a park for the Callowhill warehouse district, and one that would help redefine the place.
Center City District’s strategy. “There are things we just can’t get done,” because they’re impossible to fund or there isn’t the market-basis or the political will, says Levy. The CCD stays away from those projects. “On the other hand, we pursue projects where we can see a distinct path to the end result.” It appears that the Viaduct now belongs in the latter category.