A decade or so of persistent community activism is paying off in the Callowhill warehouse district, which is on its way to carving a vibrant residential identity from the city's industrial past.

The city and state set aside $5.3 million to convert a quarter-mile Reading Railroad spur into a park. Residents and the Center City District have raised $70,000 on their own, a strong signal of the commitment they would provide once a park is built. Foundation grants are expected as well to help cover the $8.6 million cost of the first phase.

The park would sprawl over the old Reading Railroad spur, which cuts from Chinatown to Broad Street and affords crisp views of the city skyline.

Modeled after New York's High Line, which helped transform a meatpacking district into a trendy area, the Reading Viaduct park could be the investment that turns Callowhill into a thriving Center City neighborhood.