Answer: The Reading Viaduct was opened by the Philadelphia and Reading Company, also called the Reading Railroad, in January of 1893.
Several years prior, in the late 1880s, the railroad company opted to construct its headquarters, complete with a rail terminal at 12th and Market streets. This location, however, was already home to an open-air market. After purchasing the property, the Reading Railroad moved the market – Reading Terminal Market – up a block to 12th and Filbert Streets. As such, all train tracks in the vicinity had to be elevated above the market. This led to the construction of the Reading Viaduct.
This series of now-defunct train trestles once allowed the Reading Railroad to send cars into Center City from various northern suburbs. The viaduct extends from Fairmount Avenue south to Callowhill Street, where meets with an western branch to the continue south to the Reading Terminal at 12th and Market. The western branch extends to North 13th and Noble streets. The viaduct was closed in the mid 1980s with the construction and completion of the Center City commuter tunnel, which joined legs of the Reading Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad.
More images relating to the Reading Railroad are available in the Philadelphia Record photograph morgue (#V07). We also have an interesting collection, the Richard Freeze collection on the Reading Company (#3834), that contains various published items, maps, drawings, and photographs pertaining to the Reading Railroad Company and its related and subsidiary lines.