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Contact: John Cooper ("johncoop at").


I grew up in suburban Philadelphia frequently riding the Paoli Local into Center City. As a youngster, I was particularly fascinated by the complexity of the track and operations at Zoo and Broad. My goal with this layout is to recapture my memories of the area, and thus it is set in Center City Philadelphia in the 70s or 80s.

Trackage starts underground in Suburban Station and climbs up to the upper level of 30th Street Station. This portion of the layout was built in a previous house, and has been moved twice since then. The expansion toward Zoo began in May of 2001, and was delayed by a second move.

The mainline to the east towards New York connects with the mainline to the south towards Wilmington to allow for continuous running. The line to the west towards Paoli and Harrisburg will cover only as far as the 52nd st yard. This line will connect back in as part of the wye at Arsenal. This allows the yard to also double as Greenwich yard down the Delaware Extension from Arsenal. 


Zoo Tower sits at the end of the room with the NY-Pittsburgh subway parallelling the wall. Although there is some reduction in the trackwork, all of the significant features of the plant will be present, including the river line, high line, 36th St. connection, NY-Broad subway, berry tracks, and NY-Pittsburg subway. The highline is the most recent addition to the trackwork.

Looking northward over 30th St Station, a GG1 brings a clocker in on the riverline, as an E44 pulls a train over the highline towards Zoo.
An AEM7 leads a metroliner past the Penn Coach Yards to the lower level of 30th St.
GG1 pulls coaches toward New York on the River Line, with a Trenton local exiting the NY-Broad subway, while a freight rounds the berry tracks.
Two freights meet near the ladder track as an MP54 heads towards Paoli on yet-unlaid track.
Panoramic view of the room.  Zoo in the distance, Brill to left, tracks between Suburban Station and 30th St in the foreground.  Makeshift NY mainline far right.  Click <A href=pictures/merge2.jpg>here</a> for bigger image.
Panoramic view of the room.  Foreground are tracks leading to upper level.  Far right is Arsenal where tracks for continuous running through Suburban Station join riverline.  Near door is Brill where river line meets highline.  Click <A href=pictures/merge1.jpg>here</a> for bigger image.
Curve at Zoo.  Foreground are the Berry Tracks. Compare with prototype photo at right.
Click thumbnail at left for larger picture


The description and pictures below pertain to the first layout prior to the moves. This area of the layout will remain nearly unchanged.

The skyline is comprised of actual buildings prominent on the Philadelphia skyline, though their locations with respect to each other are fictitious. All of the buildings are scratchbuilt except for the obvious DPM kits and Elfreth's alley which are IHC kits. Only since the 1980's have buildings been built taller than City Hall. None of the more recent taller buildings are represented.

A Paoli local heads underground toward Suburban Station.
Looking up at the skyline. 30th St Station on the right, Elfreths alley center, tracks to Suburban Station in the forground.
Philadelphia Skyline.  Centered is Logan Circle.  Click the skyline key to identify all the other buildings.  Levers in foreground control turnouts.  Compare with prototype photo of lever machine inside Zoo Tower.
Looking up the parkway at City Hall, flanked by Central Penn building to the left, and AT&T building on the right.
Click thumbnail at left for larger picture


Center City is built on a removable board which completely covers the platforms of Suburban Station and throat tracks. I took the liberty to reduce the station tracks from 8 to 6, but the track configuration maintains much the same character as the actual interlocking. My design guide was to be able to have two simultaneous routes through the interlocking from any two station tracks.

Underground trackwork of Broad interlocking.
View from track 12.  Prototype photo taken from more leftward perspective (track 8).
Click thumbnail at left for larger picture


Two tracks climb up from Suburban Station to the upper level of 30th Street. In the station I again took liberty to reduce the track count from 6 to 5, eliminating the Maryland Division platform. This allowed me to keep the character of the trackwork on the Schuylkill River Bridge. True to the prototype, 30th Street Station is built on three levels; upper level, street level, and lower level. The lower level will continue under the street level for continuous running.

A clocker from New York has just arrived at 30th St.
Under the canopy at 30th St.  Compare with prototype at right.  (Posts still need green paint.)
Click thumbnail at left for larger picture


A satelite image centered on 30th St Station can be found on Microsoft's TerraServer. The upper level is east-west, while the lower level is north-south. Suburban Station is directly east, Zoo is the large wye a mile or two to the northwest.

Interlocking diagrams can be found online for BroadZoo, and Penn.