Is it the Delaware? Is it the Schuylkill? No, it’s what the Navy Yard looks like after a major storm (the Delaware is on the other side of that fence). Photo courtesy of @navyyardphila
It took one of the worst hurricanes the Northeast Corridor’s ever endured to get today’s Wonky Wednesday terms into the mainstream discussion about the upcoming presidential election. Granted, there’s a lot of topics of interest to us that we’ve heard next to nothing about in this election cycle – infrastructure, transportation, CITIES – but an event like this makes the omitting (o-MITT-ing?) of these topics from high-level discussions all the more flabbergasting.
For those of you living under a rock – and we hope in all seriousness that it was a well-insulated, flood-proof rock nowhere near a coast line – most folks with credentials in this sort of thing agree that although Sandy did not necessarily occur because of climate change, weather events like Sandy will only get worse as the slow and sometimes-all-too-easy to ignore effects of climate change accumulate: rising water levels, warmer temperatures in water and air that bring added moisture to fuel such storms…things like that.
At the end of the day, cause doesn’t really matter when it comes to the very real and present challenge of responding to these storms. Whether it’s all our fault for behaving the way we do in our urbanized and industrialized world, or Mother Nature deciding to warm things up a bit for the heck of it, or a higher power punishing us for our sins, the trend exists. READ MORE
The missing link between Botanic Avenue and the Bartram’s connector trail.
Ever feel like all we do on Fitness Fridays is yell at you about trails and sidepaths? Well, you’re more or less right on that one, and with good reason: there’s a lot of trail activity happening in our city and region! Why, just this week we saw good news and timeline updates about projects in Camden and Manayunk/Montgomery County! And in Port Richmond! In every case, these projects expand not only recreational and fitness opportunities, but the possibilities of active commuting! I mean, how cool will it be to able to choose to live in a great neighborhood like Roxborough or Manayunk even when your job is in Bala Cynwyd, and to not have to worry about driving on City Ave because you can BIKE TO WORK. But no, we must control ourselves, because today’s highlight is many miles down the Schuylkill from there. It’s in the tidal Schuylkill, in fact, below the dam at the Fairmount Waterworks.
Today we’re talking about the Bartram’s Mile. It’s ok if you haven’t heard of it before, because it hasn’t been called that until pretty much this week. It’s also ok if you haven’t been there before, because we’re talking waterfront that has never been publicly accessible. Ever. If you’ve ever been down to the dock at Bartram’s Garden – did you know there was one? – then you’ve been in the neighborhood: the Bartram’s Mile refers to the missing links of Schuylkill River trail to both the north AND south of the Garden. All in all, we’re talking Grays Ferry Avenue down to 58th Street. If you follow this issue closely, then you should know that with the Bartram’s Mile completed, the only thing left is to jump the river and you’re at grays Ferry Crescent. and then the only thing is to get up to South Street, and you’ve got a seamless river experience from Bartram’s Garden to Montgomery County. We’re getting there, folks.
We bring this up now because Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, in partnership with SRDC and the John Bartram Association, is ready to roll on this project, and they want your input on the design. There are four opportunities to explore the site and contribute to the discussion between now and December. Details HERE. Penn Praxis will lead the public engagement efforts.
The coolest things about this trail segment are that 1) they’re the first Schuylkill River Trail segments to be constructed in Southwest Philadelphia, not counting the trail recently completed through Bartram’s Garden itself. SW residents do not all have equitable access to open space, and it has been decades since any residents of this area had convenient access to the natural landscape of a waterfront. 2) We’ve actually got some width in this stretch, and by that we mean, this isn’t just a matter of putting down a 14 ft trail and planting some grass. There’s enough land to create around 8 acres of actual park along the water, which really opens up how we think about programming the space. Good stuff. TGIF. GO TO THE MEETINGS!
Some welcome news to begin your Thursday: The League of American Bicyclists just announced that after a rigorous application process, Philadelphia has moved up in the Bicycle Friendly Communities ranking from Bronze to Silver. We were one of six cities to take the step up in the ranks, and by far the largest out of those. In the state profile on the League’s website, you’ll note the star next to “encouragement”, one of the 5 E’s by which they measure bike-friendliness. As a proud partner in a variety of projects and programs aimed at encouragement – completing bike and trail plans, grant applications for trail extensions, the signage system, the new map – PCPC is pleased to see this national organization honor Philadelphia with this award and feels we deserve our silver. Our aspiration, of course, is to be the Michael Phelps of bicycle-friendliness. We’ll get there.
Stay tuned for details of a celebratory event! And speaking of bike-friendly-related events, we hope you’ll be heading out this weekend to celebrate the opening of the Connector Bridge (the dark grey structure to the left in the picture above).
Here at the PCPC, we’re all about your health. Not in the personal training way, but in the built environment way. That’s why we’re going to end the week – or at least some weeks – with Fitness Fridays! This is our chance to highlight physical activity, recreation, healthy food opportunities brought to you by the current and evolving landscape of Philadelphia. So without further ado and with a nod to the upcoming University/Southwest District Plan, in today’s Fitness Friday, we bring you:
“The Old Dusty”
North 46th Street in the University/Southwest District
That ginormous swath of pavement is the unit block of North 46th Street, affectionately known locally as “The Old Dusty”. Why you may ask, well, because the lack of buildings that meet the street plus luxuriously wide lanes equals the perfect ground for a windswept mess of streetscape. You wouldn’t be surprised to see tumbleweeds or their Philly cousin, the tumbleweave, slowly ambling from the Aldi to Haverford Avenue when you disembark from the El at the 46th Street Station. There are 49 feet of roadway from curb to curb and all that is contained within are two parking lanes and two very wide driving lanes. We can do better with this location as it is surrounded by institutions, it’s very transit accessible, and underneath lies the diverted Mill Creek. READ MORE
On Thank Goodness Thursdays, we like to revisit previous plans and projects and consider just how lucky Philadelphia is that they did or didn’t happen. This week we are very thankful for our Victorian park planners and citizens who had the civic dream to preserve the Wissahickon gorge. We are recognizing the park’s century and half of public service and public benefit as we await the PA Senate vote on House Bill 2224, that puts parks at risk of being sold for short-term financial gain.
The steep river gorge is about seven miles long and 1,400 acres, including more than 50 miles of the best hiking trails in Philadelphia, the only red covered bridge in any major city, and prime viewing of the Pennsylvania Piedmont’s own Wissahickon Schist (say that 10 times fast). It was acquired by Fairmount Park in 1868 following a mixed-use past.
“On the Wissahickon at Red Bridge” – view of Thomas Mill Road Bridge, c. 1880s. Only remaining covered bridge in the Wissahickon, built 1737. (Courtesy Fairmount Park Commission Archives).