Rail Park fans have shown their support in many meaningful ways over the years, but the level of enthusiasm and generosity seen over the past two months has constituted no less than an official Rail Park lovefest. In September and October, more than 800 people attended three sold-out events in support of the Rail Park, raising $36,000 towards the project. With Phase 1 now slated for construction in 2014 [and biddable construction documents complete following a concept and schematic design process by Studio Bryan Hanes and Urban Engineers, spearheaded by Center City District], we’ve got our fundraising work cut out for us. We have already learned many things while bringing fundraising into the mix with ongoing advocacy, awareness, and engagement efforts—most importantly, we learned how invaluable the time and talents of our community of supporters will be to this initiative.

The September 14th Rally for the Rail Park, co-hosted by Callowhill Neighborhood Association and Friends of the Rail Park, was organized as part of the Fringe Festival and conceived as the block party to end all block parties. Thanks to the incredible support of volunteer organizers and performers, sponsors, in-kind donors, and 600 fellow revelers, it did not disappoint. Seeing a portion of Phase 1 of the Viaduct come to life with folks from all over Philadelphia—and the region—to celebrate and be a part of this project becoming a reality was one of the most inspiring moments we’ve had so far.

Thanks to Robert Hakalski for capturing the evening with great photos!

Friends of the Rail Park lined up two events for our third year participating in the annual Design Philadelphia Festival. The October 14th Experience the Rail Park tour brought more than 60 people on a street-level walking tour covering the majority of the 3-mile route. We could not have asked for more perfect weather or a more engaged group of fellow adventurers. Patrick Grossi, a local public historian, graciously joined us for the day to provide a robust historic narrative along the way, while Leah Murphy of Friends of the Rail Park covered advocacy efforts underway and design work to date.

This year’s closing party of the Design Philadelphia Festival on October 18th, a fundraiser for Friends of the Rail Park, was hosted by Michael Garden at CITYSPACE with Wendy Verna of Octo Design Group and sponsored by Gilmore Associates. The cocktail reception, featuring hors d’oeuvres and a wine selection from TRIA, was a celebration of the conceptual designs for a 5-block stretch of the City Branch completed through a Community Design Collaborative service grant.

After introductory comments by Michael Garden; Hilary Jay, founding director of Design Philadelphia and director of the Philadelphia Center for Architecture; and Beth Miller, executive director of the Community Design Collaborative, Friends of the Rail Park board president Leah Murphy and Richard Roark, partner at OLIN, presented the conceptual designs in context of the holistic vision for the 3-mile Rail Park. The event, as a celebration of the great impact that both Design Philadelphia and the Community Design Collaborative have had in cultivating communities around design advocacy, was the perfect occasion to announce that Reading Viaduct Project has joined forces with Friends of the Rail Park and we will now work together as one organization—news received by the crowd with enthusiastic applause. Click here for event photos.

Digital animations curated by Sean Stoops through his Animated Architecture Knight Arts Challenge project, were featured inside the building and out. Jonathan Rubin, Dan King, and Jon Chicot launched Good Motion Project with the screening of stunning imagery of the Rail Park captured using a camera mounted to a mini-helicopter. What they have produced so far is already incredible and we can’t wait to see how this project evolves!