Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
Closed for over 20 years, SEPTA's old Spring Garden station has become a "mecca" for local graffiti artists and urban explorers.
Spring Garden opened in 1928 as a busy subway station on SEPTA's Broad-Ridge Spur in Philadelphia, only to be closed in 1991 following years of declining ridership. Not to be confused with the still-active Spring Garden stations (named after the east-west city street they serve) on the current Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines, its entrances remain sealed off with galvanized metal more than 20 years later.
A green dot marks where the former Spring Garden station would sit on a current SEPTA map. The other Spring Garden stations are active and never connected to the former Broad-Ridge Spur station.
Riders can still get a glimpse of the old station, dimly lit and covered in graffiti, as their trains pass between Fairmount and Chinatown stations. Recently, local photographers Austin Hodges and Meredith Edlow joined Conrad Benner (who runs Philadelphia blog Streets Dept) to check out the former station as well as the portion of neighboring Fairmount station no longer in use.
Proclaimed by Benner on his site as a "mecca for graffiti artists and urban explorers alike," the former station was easy to find since it remains visible for SEPTA riders. "We had to walk on the tracks past a station being used," says Hodges. "Other than that it was fine."
Edlow, who visited the old Spring Garden station five years ago, was surprised at how different it looks even in that short period of time. "It's almost like there is such a limited amount of canvas space that everything is covered in graffiti," she says. "Because the walls get tagged so much, you are almost seeing an entirely different place."
"It's like walking through ruins," says Edlow. "You can feel the people that were once there and the stories about why places closed ... it makes for a bit of an unsettling experience."
For Hodges, the experience was a little less morose. "Being down there was really exciting. Knowing that many people don't know about it or have been there put a smile on my face."
H/T Streets Dept