More News:

June 20, 2017

Online fundraiser for Philly's Rail Park soars above goal

Parks Rail Park
050417_RailParknight Source/Friends of the Rail Park

Rendering of Philadelphia Rail Park.

An online campaign to raise money for Philadelphia's much-anticipated Rail Park has soared past its goal.

More than $20,000 has been donated to purchase the trees, benches and pathways that will adorn the first portion of the Rail Park, set to open in January 2018.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation launched an Indiegogo campaign in early May to benefit the Rail Park. The campaign was run in collaboration with Heineken and Friends of the Rail Park.

The National Trust, a nonprofit that seeks to preserve historic landmarks throughout the United States, set a $15,000 goal. The fundraiser reached that mark earlier this month – and the donations kept coming.

"While there's certainly a lot to celebrate, we're more inspired than ever to keep going in the 24 days we have left in our campaign," Diana Tisue wrote on June 13. "Why? Because the more money we raise, the more amazing things we can accomplish together."

The Rail Park is being constructed on top of two railroad lines originally built by the Reading Railroad. When the trains stopped running in the 1980s, the tracks fell out of use.

For years, people dreamed of turning the unused tracks into a public space.

Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The City Branch section of the former Reading Viaduct, the elevated rail system that historically brought freight trains to Reading Terminal, is part of Phase One of the Rail Park project to turn the abandoned rail system into an urban park.

The grandest proposal seeks to revamp a three-mile stretch into a park similar to New York City's popular High Line. But the proposed Rail Line will be both wider and longer than the High Line, all while offering pedestrian pathways, bicycle lanes and programming spaces.

The Rail Line will be broken into three large sections – an elevated portion known as the Viaduct, a below-street-level stretch known as the Cut, and an underground section known as the Tunnel.

Phase One of the project – a quarter-mile stretch of the Viaduct will open between Broad and Noble streets and 11th and Callowhill streets – will offer pedestrians views of the city's skyline. A 1920s railcar is being refurbished as a welcoming center.

That stretch initially was slated to open in late 2018. But the mild winter expedited demolition and site clearance, bumping its opening date forward to early 2018. The planting of shrubs, trees and flowering plants is expected to continue throughout the fall.

The $10 million price tag for the initial phase is being raised through local, state and private funding. The Center City District has been at the forefront of the fundraising efforts.

The Indiegogo fundraiser offers donors an array of perks, depending on the contribution level. Donors who gave more than $150 received two tickets to a Bruno Mars show. Other perks included t-shirts and art prints.

Correction: This article was amended to note that the Center City District has been the organization driving fundraising for Phase One of the project.