Philly's Hidden Garden

A few weeks ago, my friends and I sneaked into one of philly's best kept secrets: the Philadelphia Reading Viaduct. I have always known about the reading terminal viaduct, because it was the site for my first project at Penn. I know I told my friends not to give the location away, since technically this place is not opened to the public (it's actually not legal per se :P), so I will not be sharing how we got in the place on this blog ( just msg me ;) or ask me in person ) I did a bunch of research and read a ton of blogs in order to find out how people were accessing the viaduct. Keep in mind that actual trains still run on the picture below! So be careful if you ever go exploring! I do not encourage people to go to this part of the viaduct, and I take no responsibilities for injuries etc. I've been feeling the need to post more often, since it might be my last few months in Philly. This post was inspired by JJ Tiziou's blog post. He took a lot of really nice pictures of the viaduct! Anyway here are a few images that illustrate what's to see in Philly's hidden Garden~ Starting this at blog 3 A.M wasn't really a good idea..

tldr image link

Last week's post~

Philly Old Viaduct on the right

Philly Old Viaduct on the right

From this view you can see the remnants of the old rail track on the right side, or possibly just some bulldozer tracks! The tracks on the left are still in use, and trains still pass by!

Image taken from "Livin the Highline" http://livinthehighline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/VIADUCTgreene-map_.jpg

Image taken from "Livin the Highline" http://livinthehighline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/VIADUCTgreene-map_.jpg

Service on the Viaduct was discontinued in 1984, when the Center City commuter tunnel was opened. Today the Viaduct’s four elevated tracks have been overtaken by grasses and trees. It’s two branches offer spectacular views of immediate neighborhoods and the Philadelphia skyline. In 2003, local residents formed The Reading Viaduct Project for the purpose of advocating for the transformation of the Viaduct into an elevated linear park, in conjunction with the ongoing redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhoods.
— http://readingviaduct.org/
Hint 1 

Hint 1 

Nice bridge near the underground part of the Viaduct~ The friends of the viaduct are planning to develop the upper level part of the viaduct, but I doubt they will develop a low line like that of New York. 

The starting point of the underground viaduct

The starting point of the underground viaduct

While we were entering the tunnel, a  CSX car was following us slowly,  watching us enter the viaduct. All of a sudden the car sped up and passed by us, scaring the hell out of us! I really thought we were going to get in trouble, and be sent to the police station atthe  end of the tunnel.

Goodbye sunlight

Goodbye sunlight

I guess the track marks above might be from this bulldozer, and not the vestige of rail tracks that were once there.

Constant droppings of dust particles

Constant droppings of dust particles

I loved the ambient underground, it really felt like we were discovering a whole different universe, venturing through the dark and listening to the drops of water and the sound of gravel as we trudged. This tunnel is completely isolated from the outside world, yet moments of vehicular sounds near sky vents reminded us that we were still in Philadelphia.  Although there was no one there when we went, leftover objects suggested that people might have stayed here over night. 

Sky light

Sky light

This is probably one of my favorite images I took that day! The lighting is super nice and perfect for harsh dramatic portraits.

Ground level parking

Ground level parking

I've always been scared of walking on street vents, because I would imagine them malfunctioning and myself falling underground to some deep abyss. I didn't know these street vents could even hold the weight of a car!

Graffiti and light 

Graffiti and light 

Dramatic Selfie

Dramatic Selfie

Nice light through street vents

Nice light through street vents

We took a few selfies before leaving the underground part of the viaduct. The police station was right at the end of the tunnel, and I think I saw a policeman walking around the exit, so we decided not to continue out tunnel.

Hint 2

Hint 2

I heard that it was possible to get here directly from the underground portion of the viaduct, by passing through various buildings and factories. We played our cards safe and just biked directly to the upper portion of the viaduct. 

This place looks dangerous, but people actually live in that old power plant. The upper part of the viaduct is much more open to the public, even though it is also illegal. We actually met 3 other people walking around the viaduct ( not including the people living in this power plant building)

Artist painting on the Viaduct

Artist painting on the Viaduct

This artist came before us, and was still there when we left~

I am Legend feels

I am Legend feels


Picture from 1 year ago ( Taken by my roommate Jarrad)

Picture from 1 year ago ( Taken by my roommate Jarrad)

I didn't really use the image my roommate took to the fullest~ Thanks anyway Jarrad!

I didn't really use the image my roommate took to the fullest~ Thanks anyway Jarrad!

On the side note my roommate took an aerial photo of the Viaduct for me so I could use it for my first year project at penn. Granted I really didn't make use the amazing images my roommate took!


swing
david swing
swing

Anyways getting back on track(pun intended), we continued walking north of the Viaduct, and played around with the swing attached to the catenary mast / overhead line structures.

overhead line
heart

Finding a not so obvious heart shaped cable

View of philly from the Viaduct

View of philly from the Viaduct

I am Legend #2

I am Legend #2

When they convert this into philly's new highline, I will definitely miss the feeling of being in the wilderness on here.

Dangerous hole on the Viaduct

Dangerous hole on the Viaduct

This bridge is about 2 stories high, so if one were to drop down from this hole, he or she would probably break more than a few bones! Be careful of these holes if you ever come up the viaduct!

Train Station platform

Train Station platform

I heard Al Capone's cell was somewhere near this area, not really sure where but someone mentioned in a forum that it has already been vandalized and there's nothing to see inside. 

Profile picture material

Profile picture material

This is actually david's profile picture at this moment :P

Dramatic Contrast

Dramatic Contrast

As you can see the roof of the old train platform is already falling apart, and filled with graffiti 

Hole in the wall

Hole in the wall

I wonder who made this hole in the wall, but the floor inside the building was also falling apart~ Walk with caution

Interior condition

Interior condition

Abandoned telephone stand

Abandoned telephone stand

A broken swing that was once here

A broken swing that was once here

The end of the Viaduct

The end of the Viaduct

The Viaduct kind of just ends suddenly and transitions into a normal road, so we started heading back 

Heading back

Heading back

This is also one of my favorite images of the day, I wish the Liberty towers were not blocked by the mast in the back though.

Someone's house on a catenary mast?

Someone's house on a catenary mast?

The return trip is always faster

The return trip is always faster

We played around with the swing again

We played around with the swing again

and it never gets old

and it never gets old

Back to University City

Back to University City

All in all this was a nice afternoon trip after spring break. I think we left around 12 and got back around 5 or 6 (including dinner at China Town) so this whole trip didn't really take too long.  I think this is one of my lowest photo count post, inspired by the jiao ao AE, but I can never curb my desire to share a ton of images in my posts. I didn't include any slide shows, so maybe the impatient scrollers will be able to see all the images before hitting the bottom of the page which is here Click here to go to the top~ I wonder when the high line project by the friends of the rail park will start construction; for anyone's who's interested in helping them make this abandoned park into a new highline please visit their website~ I think Brian Hanes already has a proposal in which they want to push forward to conceive. It would be nice to look back in the future and visit the completed highline park, but something inside of me wishes that the park remains like this forever. It's like discovering a great singer, and wishing they get exposure, but not too famous because it will become too mainstream. Anyway it's 5 A.M now again... these blog vibes just keep coming even though my finals are coming soon. I still have to... job hunt after graduation..... wish me luck and ask me any questions if you guys want!

Thanks again for visiting my page!

- Ian Liu

4/22/2016 5:13 A.M

P.S I'll probably post this later since I already posted earlier this week~