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
Nomination Withdrawal Signals The End For Stone Cottage In Overbrook Farms

Nomination Withdrawal Signals The End For Stone Cottage In Overbrook Farms

December 14, 2018  |  News

Historical Commission withdraws nomination for 127-year-old cottage in Overbrook Farms after owner St. Joseph's University neglects the home for over a decade. Starr Herr-Cardillo has the news > more

“Star Doors” Take Center Stage In A City Of Rows

December 13, 2018  |  Vantage

Like the human eye, exterior doors can be a portal into the soul of a row house. Ashley Hahn drops in with the backstory on “star doors,” a singular piece of Philadelphia charm > more

Sixty Years Of Holiday Cheer At Wanamaker's

Sixty Years Of Holiday Cheer At Wanamaker’s

December 12, 2018  |  Last Light

Patrick Glennon gives us a look at the origins of a holiday tradition at the Wanamaker Building > more

City Archives Opens New HQ In Northern Liberties

City Archives Opens New HQ In Northern Liberties

December 6, 2018  |  Buzz

New digs in NoLibs for the Philadelphia City Archives. Michael Bixler has the details > more

Give a Gift, Get a Gift: 2018 Fund Drive Perks Are Here

Give a Gift, Get a Gift: 2018 Fund Drive Perks Are Here

December 6, 2018  |  Uncategorized, Vantage

Our annual fund drive is in full swing and this year's perks are better than ever, so have a look. Not to mention: all donations will be matched dollar for dollar by NewsMatch! > more

Architecture Trips The Light Fantastic in <em>Philly After Dark</em>

Architecture Trips The Light Fantastic in Philly After Dark

December 4, 2018  |  News

The Athenaeum of Philadelphia shines a light on local architecture at night with their illuminating exhibition, "Philly After Dark." Greg Prichard has this review > more