A long-awaited transformation of Reading Terminal Market will extend the footprint of the nation’s oldest continuously running farmers’ market, officials said during a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday.
The Filbert Street Transformation Project was originally announced in 2019 as a way to expand the historic market and create a large public space for residents and visitors of the Philadelphia staple to enjoy. The plan was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and is now slated for completion by this coming fall.
The $1 million project will reconstruct the 1100 block of Filbert Street — adjacent to Reading Terminal Market — and create one of the city’s first “curbless” streets, with sidewalks and car lanes at equal height to the rest of the block. A portion of the parking lane on Filbert Street will be removed in an effort to widen the sidewalk by eight feet, making room for additional seating.
“Useful and inviting outdoor spaces have become increasingly important to our city, its residents, and visitors throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting an emphasis on the importance of projects like this,” said Annie Allman, CEO and general manager of Reading Terminal Market. “As a cornerstone of the Philadelphia community and a diverse, welcoming hub for our city, providing a safe, engaging outdoor experience in addition to the extensive options indoors is critical.”
The street changes are meant to serve as a traffic calming measure for the area, as 70% of visitors to Reading Terminal Market arrive by public transit, officials said. Those who arrive by car will be able to stop at one of several passenger loading and unloading stations for rideshares.
In addition to indoor seating, high-top tables and other seating will be available on the widened sidewalk, weather permitting. The outdoor dining options were initially used throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to keep Reading Terminal Market open and busy without risking illness through close contact.
The outdoor space will also be utilized by local artists, artisans and food-sellers to host outdoor farmers’ markets at special events curated by Reading Terminal Market.
In 2019, Mural Arts Philadelphia unveiled “Philadelphia Microcosm,” a set of multi-paneled paintings depicting the history of Reading Terminal Market and its connections to SEPTA inside the vestibule at nearby Jefferson Station.
In addition to the permanent art installation, Reading Terminal Market will utilize the Filbert Street expansion to host temporary art installations connected to the rotating menu of diverse cultures and cuisines present at the market year-round.
The revitalization project is provided through grant funding from the William Penn Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Multi-Modal Transportation Fund and the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority.
John J. McNichol, president and CEO of the Convention Center Authority, said that supporting Reading Terminal Market’s recovery efforts will enable visitors at the Convention Center to have easier access to enjoy the Philly staple in a safe environment, both indoors and outdoors.
For the duration of the construction, the Reading Terminal Market entrance on Filbert Street will be closed. Visitors can access the market through the Arch Street or 12th Street doors.