Built and owned by the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, the Reading Viaduct and City Branch Tunnel were built in order to remove street level crossings. Both rails carried passenger trains while the tunnel carried freight. Together, the 3.5 mile-long rails traverse 55 city blocks. It has been proposed that the now abandoned right-of-ways be turned into green spaces; the viaduct into an elevated park and the tunnel into an underground park.

The Reading Viaduct is an elevated right-of-way with four sets of tracks that run 10 blocks through the city. At one mile long, it has 4.7 acres of land and is made up of a combination of embankment sections bridged by steel structures and arches masonry bridges. The viaduct was built in 1893 as an approach to the new Reading Terminal but service stopped in 1984 when the Centre City Commuter Connection Tunnel was opened.