Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lost Mystery Building of the Week-- September 5th

Girard Avenue Station

9th and Girard

                        Ninth and Girard might be a big steaming pile of mammoth shit now, but in the early 20th Century, it was wicked. You had a huuuuge farmer's market that served the entire area, two nice theatres, lots of fancy housing, a grand hospital nearby, and an ELEVATED FUCKING REGIONAL RAIL STATION!!
                         Nowadays, its crap. The market is an empty lot, the housing has been replaced with boring suburban-style "affordable housing", and the theatres are shells of their former selves. The hospital is still there, but its new additions look like fracocta baloney. Most disappointing of these losses was the regional rail station-- Girard Avenue Station. That picture up there is pretty much the only visual record of it. Its not clear when it was built or when it was removed.
                     One thing I have figured out is that the track wasn't always elevated like that. It used to be on the ground. This picture from 1906 proves it:

There it is, with the long-lost Swift & Co. HQ.
Across the street, the kick-ass Girard Avenue Farmer's Market.
                   At some point, Reading RR turned that track into a causeway/viaduct and created a passenger station at Girard Avenue. While there were other lost passenger stations along this line (the Spring Garden one is sort of still standing, the Columbia Ave [Cecil B. Moore] one is now a baseball field), this was the only one straddling a street. This thing had to have an architect/engineer... it had to be built some time, and it had to be taken down some time as well. Nonetheless, I can't find shit. This thing is LOST AS FUCK.

...but it DID exist. This 1910 map has it, even though a 1909 picture I found has the track on the ground.
                        Any of you railroad nerds out there know anything about this? Where the fuck this thing came from? Where it went? What happened to all the other cool buildings that surrounded it? I mean, for fuck's sake, here's a Google Streetview of the same location shown in the photo at the top of the article:

                     THAT'S THE SAME FUCKING LOCATION? Did the Borg come and wipe the whole place out? Its one thing to have a lost building, its something else entirely to have a lost transit point surrounded by lost buildings! Maybe I'm just over-reacting. Maybe this stuff was demolished in the last 30-40 years and some old heads out there remember them and could tell me what happened. Nonetheless, this is a mysterious fucking loss of mysterious fucking buildings that really pisses me off.
                     Have any info on this?


  1. Some info for you: From 1893.January The P&R opens the grandiose Reading Terminal. The Italianate head-house is designed by New York architect Francis H. Kimball, and Wilson Bros. & Company provides design engineering for the 13-track trainshed, the largest single-span trainshed constructed to date. The space beneath the trainshed accommodates the public market. From the Terminal, the tracks of the 9th Street Branch to Green Street are elevated on a system of four-track steel viaducts with plate girder spans and on fill between concrete and stone retaining walls. North of Green Street, the tracks descend to street level at Fairmount Avenue. From this point, along the 4.3 miles to Wayne Junction, there remain 28 grade crossings. The 9th Street elevation project to Wayne Junction is finally completed in 1911. By 1911, the vast grade separation projects are complete. all passenger traffic is rerouted over the now grade-crossing-free 9th Street Branch, and the City Branch settles into a freight-oriented role. The busy passenger lines of the 9th Street Branch funnel countless trains and travelers to and from the vast trainshed with safety and dispatch. Traffic is so great that in 1929 construction begins on electrification of the branch and much of the commuter-hauling network.

  2. If you look at, it's visible in the 1940 overhead, but gone by 1948.

    There is a late 1800s reference to the station as "Girard Ave Central".

    This may be of some use:

    * December 24 1885. Cornerstone laid of Girard Avenue Farmers' Market cor. Ninth St., and Girard Ave., 198 ft. on Girard Ave, by 194 ft. on Hutchinson St.

    * October 30 1885. New Girard Avenue Farmers' market-house, Girard Ave. and Ninth St., opened for business.


    The contract for the building was awarded October 11, 1911. So that photo from 1913 was probably right when it opened.


  4. Harry K, I just wanted to say that you are the man. I met you at an ALI taping and didn't put two and two together until after I had left. Keep up all of the amazing and interesting publications.

  5. In 1993, SEPTA launched the Railworks project, which rebuilt the entire Reading Viaduct south of Fern Rock. That's why everything's gone.

  6. Anon - Railworks is irrelevant to this station. The station was gone by 1948.

  7. A suggestion from @mikezphilly on Twitter suggests that perhaps the Reading Spring Garden station replaced the Girard Station.


  8. Thanks for all the info, folks! I'll post an update soon.

    1. Greets... dang, can't find yr email on this blog, but just inviting you on this bike ride:

      which does bridges and tunnels on sunday the 14th...
      in case you might find it interesting...
      it's supposed to cost $5 but as the executive director of Philaphilia, let me know if you're coming and demand a "comp" at the start!
      -- mike mcgettigan

  9. Hi
    Cool Stuff ! thank for that information . i bookmarked this blog . keep updatingdave burke