how can we rethink transit infrastructure as a community hub and public green space?


The 40th Street Trolley Portal is one of the busiest public transit hubs in Philadelphia. Each trolley line serving West Philadelphia meets at the hub in what used to be a bewildering expanse of concrete, crisscrossed with trolley tracks and dotted with catenary poles. The University City District engaged Andorpogon to redesign the transit hub to not just improve pedestrian and rider safety but to create an engaging, pedestrian-friendly, social gathering place for the community.

The new hub was also designed to reduce the urban heat island effect, manage stormwater, and mitigate combined sewer outfall discharges. Andropogon’s design transformed the concrete plaza into a rejuvenating space that features clearly defined pedestrian circulation, extensive new native meadow-like landscaping, movable seating, and a new restaurant. The space is as beneficial for people as it is for pollinators. The design inspired University City District to rename the site Trolley Portal Gardens.

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Additional design features include a cafe, the retrofit of existing catenary poles with high-efficiency motion-activated LED lighting, new pavement, and planted zones that create habitat, provide seating opportunities and reduce stormwater runoff. Consulting on the plan were representatives of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, higher education institutions, and members of the surrounding community.


  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Size: 1 Acre
  • Role: Landscape Architect of Record
  • Services: Sustainable Site Design, Stormwater Management, Construction Documentation and Observation