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!
Today’s district spotlight focuses on the Central District Plan and special Design Philadelphia event that the Planning Commission staff is hosting.
If you’ve ever walked to the Convention Center’s new entrance at Broad and Race Streets and thought “wow, this place is dreadfully dull and empty” or tried to walk across JFK Boulevard to City Hall only to feel that you were taking your life in your hands or walked through City Hall Courtyard wishing for some activity like a café – then we have an event for you!
Stop by the Planning Commission’s station on Thursday, October 11th from noon to 2:00 p.m. in the arcade of 1601 Market Street to give us your ideas for the public spaces around City Hall. As a part of Design Philadelphia and the ongoing Central District Plan process, we’re asking the public to come and help us brainstorm for ways to activate these spaces and help make better connections around City Hall.
With Lenfest Plaza complete, Dilworth Plaza under construction and the fabulous new activities at Sister Cities Plaza, we have some great new public spaces, but: How do we connect them? What needs to be done to make some of our other public spaces around City Hall better? What activities do you want to see in Center Square?
Announce to the world that seas of concrete and dead bushes in ugly planters are no longer acceptable!
Lenfest Plaza is looking pretty good at PAFA. How can we have more spaces like this?
The Broad Street entrance to the Convention Center could use some work.
City Hall courtyard looked its best during the Transformers movie shoot. How can we make that a reality?
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).
The Tacony Creek Trail, which can one day connect to a fully integrated system, based on phased implementation of a citywide trails master plan, discussed below.
TGIF, Philadelphia! We hope you’re out enjoying park(ing) day and the weather and that you won’t read this until much later tonight as you wait for middle-of-the-night greasy food from your favorite end-of-the-night haunt. What we’ve got for you today is a short look into an ongoing project of ours, straight from our Division of Strategic Planning and Policy. If you don’t know how the office is organized, I’d refer you to our website since we don’t have the time to discuss that right now, and frankly, there are more exciting fish to fry.
So believe it or not – and we hope you do – we work on a lot of stuff behind the scenes. That’s sort of our charge: in addition to keeping the day-to-day functions going – plan and facade reviews, zoning bills, site plan and sidewalk reviews, district plan production – we have to keep an eye towards strategic next steps, towards helping every other agency in Philadelphia suss out priorities. That is particularly the role of Strategic Planning & Policy, which works on the city’s capital program budget and oversees the Philadelphia2035 process.
So with priorities in mind, PCPC’s been hard at work with City agencies and trail development groups for the past year on a Citywide Trail Master Plan to organize and prioritize City support for trail projects. READ MORE