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What Should Be Done With The Reading Tunnel?

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[Photos via Zach Patten]

Philadelphia prides itself on the arts, so why is the museum-rich Parkway so barren? Based on the Champs-Elysees, we're pretty sure that the Parkway could be a much bigger attraction than it currently is. Pedestrian walkways and speeding vehicles don't make for a very tourist-friendly area, but there may be a solution in the works. Largely unbeknownst to many, beneath Pennsylvania Avenue lies a massive undeveloped tunnel that stretches from 27th Street all the way down to the heart of Center City.

Dating back to the late 19th century, sections of the tunnel were formerly used as a cargo railway to deliver massive rolls of newspaper to the Philadelphia Inquirer's former headquarters on North Broad. The rails continued out to the now-abandoned Reading Viaduct, which developers are hoping to turn into Philadelphia's version of Manhattan's High Line.

With all the recent talk about entertainment venues and casino development for North Broad and 8th & Market, the city has earmarked the SEPTA-owned tunnel for possible development as a high-speed underground bus line similar to the TransMilenio rapid bus transit system in Bogota, Colombia.

With the potential of an upcoming Center City development boom, this could be the perfect time to develop the tunnel, creating a seamless mode of transportation between the neighborhoods and bringing a steady stream of visitors to the museum area.

Curbed recently ventured into the tunnel to shoot a few photos. Take a look around and picture the benefits of a well connected city. Is a high-speed bus line something you would use?

— Zach Patten