Rail Park vs. High Line

Hi’s Eye staffers compare Philadelphia’s version of the NYC High Line

On June 14, 2018, the first phase of the Rail Park in downtown Philadelphia opened to the public. This free quarter-mile stretch of elevated park starts at Noble Street and ends at the Viaduct. Currently, there are benches, bench swings, trees and a stretch of boardwalk where people can relax, do work, or hang out with friends. Now that phase one is finished, the next phase is underway, with over $10 million already raised by the Center City District Foundation to continue building.

This construction is being headed by the non-profit group, Friends of the Rail Park, with the end goal of creating “a three-mile public greenway that will be twice the length and twice the width of NYC’s High Line” for “pedestrians, bicyclists, neighbors, and visitors alike.”

Stretching 1.5 miles long and running along the west side of Manhattan, the NYC High Line has been a staple of Manhattan since its creation in 2009 and is a well-established attraction, meaning the Rail Park has a lot to live up to.

Photo by Hanna Zakharenko
NYC’s Highline

In comparison with the High Line, which is always alive with people, the Philadelphia Rail Park was underwhelming. When we visited this park at around 1 p.m. on a Thursday, only one other person was there. Granted, only one-twelfth of this stretch of the park has been completed to date, so there is still time for the Rail Park to step up its game.

The NYC High Line is a very successful attraction in Manhattan, and at the moment, the Philadelphia Rail Park is an obscure stretch of elevated land that only a few people know about or utilize. While the intended hope for the Rail Park is to be a bigger—and assumably—better version of the High Line, the incomplete version stands small against Manhattan’s famous landmark.

Photo by Hanna Zakharenko
Philadelphia’s Rail Park