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
Developer Targets Asian Shopping Center In Next Battle For Washington Avenue

Developer Targets Asian Shopping Center In Next Battle For Washington Avenue

June 26, 2019  |  News

Hoa Binh Plaza at 16th Street and Washington Avenue has been a shopping and community hub for Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants for nearly 30 years. As real estate acquisition heats up west of Broad Street, a developer plans to raze the complex for new residential construction. Kimberly Haas has the news > more

Celebrating Rebellion: On The Picket Line With The Suffragettes Of Philadelphia

Celebrating Rebellion: On The Picket Line With The Suffragettes Of Philadelphia

June 24, 2019  |  Vantage

This month marks the 100th anniversary of Pennsylvania ratifying the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. With Independence Day fast approaching, Amy Cohen introduces us to the rebellious suffragettes that fought for equal rights in Philadelphia > more

Residents Sound Off To Land Bank Following Release Of New Report

Residents Sound Off To Land Bank Following Release Of New Report

June 21, 2019  |  News

The Philadelphia Land Bank draws anger and frustration with the release of its new strategic plan and performance report. Kimberly Haas has the details > more

Growing Pains Yield Gains For The Mütter Museum

Growing Pains Yield Gains For The Mütter Museum

June 20, 2019  |  News

The Mütter Museum, one to the country's premiere medical history museums, prepares for a major expansion with a $25 million capital campaign and designs by KieranTimberlake. Kimberly Haas has the news > more

Italian-American Heritage & Industrial Landmarks Go Under Review For Historic Designation Recommendation

Italian-American Heritage & Industrial Landmarks Go Under Review For Historic Designation Recommendation

June 17, 2019  |  News

Starr Herr-Cardillo has this roundup of local register nominations on the agenda at the June meeting of the Philadelphia Historical Commission's Designation Committee > more

Homeowners Pay The Price When New Construction Damages Neighboring Rows

Homeowners Pay The Price When New Construction Damages Neighboring Rows

June 14, 2019  |  News

Owners of row houses are left with little recourse when demolition and new construction causes structural damage to their homes. Starr Herr-Cardillo takes a look at a growing citywide problem > more