Reading Terminal Market to extend outdoor dining space on Filbert Street

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 important 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 — nearby 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 time 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 different, welcoming center for our city, providing a safe, engaging outdoor experience in addition to the extensive options indoors is basic.” 

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.

Reading Terminal Transformation RenderingCourtesy of/Reading Terminal Market

The Filbert Street Transformation Project will create one of the city’s first ‘curbless’ streets, and will remove a portion of the parking lane on Filbert Street to widen the street for outdoor dining.

In addition to indoor seating, high-top tables and other seating will be obtainable 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 by close contact. 

The outdoor space will also be utilized by local artists, artisans and food-sellers to great number 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 stop. 

In addition to the long-lasting art installation, Reading Terminal Market will utilize the Filbert Street expansion to great number permanent art installations connected to the rotating menu of different cultures and cuisines present at the market year-round.

Reading Terminal GroundbreakingCourtesy of/Reading Terminal Market

Mayor Jim Kenney and City Councilmember Mark Squilla were among the city officials in attendance for the groundbreaking of the Filbert Street Transformation Project, which is slated for completion in fall 2022.

The revitalization project is provided by 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 permit visitors at the Convention Center to have easier access to enjoy the Philly important in a safe ecosystem, 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 by the Arch Street or 12th Street doors.

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