New Schuylkill River Trail Extension Now Open

 

The new segment of the Schuylkill River Trail is now open for business. The 1,400-foot extension leads the trail from South Street to Christian Street with a thoughtful balance of wide pavement, comfortable benches, and pocket overlooks that provide a relaxing view of our “hidden river.” A pedestrian bridge connecting the foot path to CHOP’s Roberts Center for Pediatric Research public plaza on South Street affords trail users unhindered views of path activity, a fleet of crude oil trains, and the growing West Philadelphia skyline. The $5 million segment was designed by landscape architecture studio Ground Reconsidered, $1.5 million of which was spent on top soil, irrigation, and planting. The design of the extension is attractive now, but it won’t show its true colors until the greenery begins to fill in this summer.

Did I mention there are oil trains? Scores and scores of crude oil trains as far as the eyes can see. They’ve been hiding in the brush there all along, but now command center stage. Perhaps the City will one day find another way to get these “bomb trains” to the refineries of Philadelphia Energy Solutions. Until then, we are saddled with an unsettling public health risk stalking one of the best urban trails in the country. Enjoy the new addition, but keep your eyes to the river, your emergency alerts enabled, and your shoelaces tied. 

***

Oiled up with anxiety on the new segment of the Schuylkill River Trail. Photographs by Michael Bixler.

About the author

Michael Bixler is a writer, photographer, and managing editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a former arts and entertainment reporter with Mountain Xpress weekly in Asheville, North Carolina and a native of South Carolina. Bixler has a keen interest in adaptive reuse, underappreciated architecture, contemporary literature and art, and forward-thinking dialogue about people and place. Follow him on Instagram



9 Comments


  1. I walked this section of the path last week and found it quite pleasant given the rail line but do wonder why the huge billboard that blocks the view of the city from the path was allowed. It looks to be on the path’s property.

  2. wow… can we get rid of that billboard?

  3. Anyone have any updates on the proposed swivel pedestrian bridge which is supposed to hook up with the Bartram Mile section of the trial?

  4. “Keep your emergency alerts enabled”? For the oil trains?

  5. PES is the east coasts largest refinery and the 10th largest in the country. Those trains are essential.

  6. While this is not my original idea, why not make a deal with CSX to trade the 25th Street Viaduct and rail lines along the river for a new bridge across the Schuylkill near the Platt Bridge that would take the trains directly to the refineries without risking catastrophe in populated neighborhoods. The Arsenal Bridge is 40 years past replacement stage, anyway. Convert the Viaduct to a subway line connecting to 30th Street Station and the Navy Yard, meeting the BSL at Pattison. Pay for it with a development tax in the virtually unpopulated areas which now are tow and chop shops along 25th Street and to the West. But we need more mass transit in South Philadelphia and we need to get oil trains out of the areas where people live

    • Sounds great….. I’m all for it but it’s a bad idea. The 25th Street viaduct is falling apart and currently being patched. I bet that if a Subway was planned to utilize the viaduct in the next 20 years, a structural assessment would reveal that it’s well beyond it’s life span. Reinfoced concrete from that era in exposed exterior areas rust from within. It’s just a matter of time before it must be torn down or converted to a park.

  7. I hope they can somehow keep and reuse that crane at the end of the latest section. It looks like it hasn’t worked in years. Perhaps a swing or a look out for pedestrians? Does anyone know if it’s still in use or abandoned?

  8. Gee, and how did we all get to the trail today, in our gas guzzling suv’s that require what, crude oil.

Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
African-American Abolitionist & Son Of Former Vice President Aaron Burr Receives Formal Recognition

African-American Abolitionist & Son Of Former Vice President Aaron Burr Receives Formal Recognition

August 19, 2019  |  News

The remains of John Pierre Burr, a black Philadelphia abolitionist and natural son of former Vice President Aaron Burr, has resided in an unmarked grave for more than a century. He will receive formal recognition and an official headstone on Saturday, August 24. Kessler Thibert has the details > more

Historic Maritime Landmark Under Threat After Construction Mishap

Historic Maritime Landmark Under Threat After Construction Mishap

August 15, 2019  |  News

Deferred maintenance and a construction error endangers Edward Corner warehouse, one of the waterfront's last prominent reminders of Philadelphia's shipping history. Starr Herr Cardillo has the details > more

In Northeast Philadelphia, A Rich History Of Train Tracks And Acquisitions

In Northeast Philadelphia, A Rich History Of Train Tracks And Acquisitions

August 13, 2019  |  Vantage

Ed Duffy give us a panoramic view of railroad history in Northeast Philadelphia with this longform essay > more

Eastern State Penitentiary Illuminates “Hidden Lives” Of The Incarcerated

Eastern State Penitentiary Illuminates “Hidden Lives” Of The Incarcerated

August 9, 2019  |  News

"Hidden Lives Illuminated," an animated film project created by inmates of SCI Chester, debuts at Eastern State Penitentiary on August 15. Kimberly Haas went inside the state prison to speak with the incarcerated artists > more

Rittenhouse SoundWorks Keeps The Tune Ups Coming In Old Auto Garage

Rittenhouse SoundWorks Keeps The Tune Ups Coming In Old Auto Garage

August 7, 2019  |  Vantage

A Germantown couple bet big on adaptive reuse when they converted an old garage into a full-service recording studio in 2014. Today, they are sought out by musicians from around the globe. Stacia Friedman has the story > more

In Germantown, Saving A Neighborhood's Character One Renovation At A Time

In Germantown, Saving A Neighborhood’s Character One Renovation At A Time

August 2, 2019  |  Vantage

Emily Birdie Busch profiles nine renovation projects in Germantown that are keeping the neighborhood's architectural history within view > more