Exciting News!

Announcing OcTOURber in Fairmount Park

by Sara Hirschler on October 12, 2020

5 themes over 5 weeks of self-guided tours through East and West Fairmount Park.

Fall is in full swing in Philadelphia and with cooler temperatures and beautiful foliage, it’s one of the most magical times to experience Fairmount Park. This fall, Fairmount Park Conservancy is excited to offer OcTOURber in Fairmount Park, a series of self-guided tours with five themes; Historic Houses, Public Art, Nature, Water and Past & Present. Starting in October, each week will feature a thematic self-guided tour that will highlight lesser-known gems in the park in addition to virtual and in-person offerings. 

We are also offering everyone the opportunity to earn a $50-membership to Fairmount Park Conservancy this fall. Track your OcTOURber in Fairmount Park on the GooseChase app! Complete all missions over the next 6 weeks at your pace and you’ll win a $50-level membership to Fairmount Park Conservancy.* Winners will be announced on Monday, November 9th. 

Here’s how to play along:

  • First! Fill out this brief consent form (required for participation and for the game password).
  • Download the free GooseChase app to your smartphone.
  • Search for “Fairmount Park” and select “OcTOURber in Fairmount Park.” 
  • Join solo or create a team (limited to 1-4 members; only one person per team will get a membership – so you may want to register separately even if you plan to do the missions together).
  • Head to Fairmount Park based on the weekly self-guided tours we release and start completing the missions. Clues officially begin on October 2nd and you can complete them anytime until November 8th at 6pm.
  • Full rules, tips and FAQs.

*Current members can use this membership to extend their membership for another year or to give the gift of a membership to a friend.

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October 30, 2020: Past & Present

Featured Virtual Activity: Friday, October 30th 12-1pm VIEW RECORDING One of the unique features of what we now call Fairmount Park (the East and West Parks on the Schuylkill) is how much of the past remains — historic houses and vistas, even the footprint of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. Join Elizabeth Milroy, PhD, an expert on the history of Philadelphia’s green spaces, for a lunchtime webinar to learn about how efforts to preserve noteworthy structures as well as important riparian landscapes drove much of Fairmount Park’s formation.

We are extending the deadline for completing the GooseChase Missions to Sunday, November 8th at 6pm!

This week’s self-guided tour explores Fairmount Park’s historic built environment on a journey through the abandoned past and structures still presently used. Learn some tales of bridges, tunnels, and trails that connect centuries of park infrastructure. As always, we recommend downloading the GooseChase App (after you complete this consent form which shares the game password upon completion) and completing the missions to have the very best experience!

October 21, 2020: Water

Water is as important to life as air. Fairmount Park was originally created in 1855 to protect the Schuylkill River watershed, which continues to supply drinking water for the City of Philadelphia to this very day. While some of its creeks and streams have been covered by roads and other structures, Fairmount Park still offers many bodies of water and infrastructure to discover:

  • 11 creeks in West Fairmount Park (Belmont Glen Creek, Belmont Valley Creek, Chamounix Creek, Greenland Creek, Lansdowne Creek, Montgomery Creek, Ridgeland Creek, Roberts Run, Skuttens Run, Sweetbriar Run, Warner Creek)
  • 5 Creeks in East Fairmount Park (Glendinning Creek, Harrison Creek, Mount Pleasant Creek, Randolph Creek, Strawberry Mansion Creek)
  • 1 reservoir (Strawberry Mansion)
  • 2 lakes (Centennial and Concourse)
  • 1 pond (Shofuso Japanese House)

And of course the iconic Fairmount Water Works, which opened its doors in 1815 as the sole water pumping station for the City of Philadelphia and operated until 1909, providing the city with an abundant supply of water used for drinking, bathing, sanitation, and fighting fires, improving the quality of life for all residents.

This week’s self-guided tour begins at the place where Fairmount Park began: Lemon Hill. It will take you deeper into a part of the park you might have explored before, but this time you’ll get more acquainted with its water-themed features including a whale tale sculpture, many fountains, a boardwalk and even a lighthouse! As always, we recommend downloading the GooseChase App (after you complete this consent form which shares the game password upon completion) and completing the missions to have the very best experience!

Featured Virtual Event: Monday, October 26th 12-1pm “Ghosts of Water” VIEW RECORDING
Adam Levine, historical consultant for the Philadelphia Water Department, will talk about streams that once flowed through Fairmount Park, along with dams, pumping stations and reservoirs that no longer exist.

Featured Activities: Explore the world of the Mighty Mussel. This beautiful site offers coloring pages, activities and much more and was created for the Mussel Hatchery at the Fairmount Water Works with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.

Get highlights from the Philadelphia Water Summit (2018)

Get deep into the Green City Clean Waters plan for Philadelphia, a 25-year plan to transform the health of the City’s creeks and rivers.

Read the 2019 Water Quality Report from PWD. And check out their blog!

Check out the excellent lineup of water videos from Habitheque:

October 16, 2020: Nature

“Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time.” – Katrina Mayer

In these stressful and screen-centric times, the theme of nature is more important than ever. Spanning 2,050 acres, East and West Fairmount Park are great places to experience the gifts of nature; creeks, trees, wildlife and more. This week we are excited to bring this map back to life to help you get better acquainted with the magnificent trees of the Centennial Arboretum at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center. The map is from 2007 and originally created by the Longwood Graduate Fellows at the University of Delaware. It showcases 21 trees, a few of which are still around from the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, and a few of which are gone.

Fairmount Park Conservancy recently added temporary markers to the 19 remaining trees so you can take a self-guided tree tour and learn fascinating facts (like, did you know the Dawn Redwood was only known to exist as a fossil before 1941?!) before they shed their leaves! For the very best experience we recommend downloading the GooseChase App (after you complete this consent form which shares the game password upon completion) and completing the missions.


Featured virtual event: Monday, October 19th 12-1pm Trees of the Centennial Arboretum Tour VIEW RECORDING
Join Fairmount Park Conservancy’s Volunteer & Environmental Program Manager Lindsey Walker on a virtual walking tour of the Centennial Arboretum in Fairmount Park.

Featured Activity: Enjoy this amazing Fall in Love with Nature Activity Guide developed by community organizations supported by the TD Ready Commitment. The guide includes a guided forest bathing experience, a tree journaling activity we helped create for TreePhilly, eco-friendly confetti making and so much more!

Featured in-person events:
Experience Forest Therapy at the Boxers’ Trail with our partners at Wild Philadelphia on Sunday, October 18th at 9am.
Join artist Caleb Stoltzfus for all-levels Landscape Drawing and Painting at Woodford Mansion. Engage with the natural surroundings of the Woodford Mansion grounds and orchard.

October 7, 2020: Public Art

This week’s OcTOURber in Fairmount Park is in partnership with our friends at The Association for Public Art (aPA). With more than 100 works of public art in Fairmount Park alone, this week is for discovering art you may have never noticed and for learning more about the artworks you’ve passed by many times. The Association for Public Art offers several walking and bike friendly tour maps and in depth information on most of the public art in Fairmount Park. This week’s self-guided tour starts off near Lemon Hill and explores works including The Wedges, Stone Age in America, Playing Angels and much more! For the very best experience we recommend downloading the GooseChase App (after you complete this consent form which shares the game password upon completion) and completing the missions.

Featured virtual event: Friday, October 9th from 12pm-1pm: VIEW RECORDING Join our partners at aPA for a lunchtime virtual walking tour of select public art in East Fairmount Park including Sleeping Woman, Playing Angels and more.

Featured activity: Enjoy these printable outdoor sculpture activity pages from the Association for Public Art. With mazes, connect the dots, drawing prompts, and more, children are invited to think about public art in new ways and make their own creations at home. Check them out.

Featured videos: We’ve partnered with aPA a few times over the past few months. Check out recordings of previous webinars including a LOVE Your Park Public Art TourVirtual guided hike to Pavilion in the Trees, and Art & Nature in the Centennial District.

October 1, 2020: Historic Houses

Within Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park stands a group of 18th and early 19th-century historic houses established as rural retreats by prominent families of the city. The homes provided an elegant, fashionable and healthy summer retreat from Philadelphia’s urban environment, heat, and periodic epidemics. In addition, many of these homes functioned as single-family working farms, which included productive dairies, orchards and extensive fields and game lands, and ornamental flower gardens and vegetable gardens. Although the evidence of the original garden designs and the surrounding rural landscape are long gone, many of the houses have thriving grounds thanks to the joint efforts of stewardship groups, partner organizations, community volunteers, staff and caretakers. 

This week’s tour, called “Older Homes & Gardens” will take you through some garden highlights at a few of the historic houses in the upper section of East Fairmount Park. The next few weeks will be the last chance to see the historic houses gardens in bloom before the fall’s first frost! Follow the light purple colored ribbons and use this map to help guide you through the tour. And don’t forget to track your progress and learn even more on the GooseChase app. Just download the app and search for “OcTOURber in Fairmount Park.”

Featured activity: Historic House coloring pages! Bring some color to these beautiful black-and-white sketches of the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park. These coloring pages are available to download for free – you can even draw your own Historic House! Download now.

Featured video: Learn about the 6 Historic Houses in 6 minutes. Join John Sigmund, Fairmount Park Conservancy Historic House Coordinator, and Justina Barrett, Philadelphia Museum of Art Site Manager, in a whirlwind bicycle tour of six historic properties situated in beautiful Fairmount Park. In just one minute per house, learn unique facts about these historic homes. This video was filmed earlier this spring. Watch video!