FDR Park: Today
FDR Park: Future
FDR Park is an extremely well-used and well-loved park that serves Philadelphia’s diverse, ever-changing population and struggles with underfunding and frequent flooding. Through comprehensive hydrology & ecology studies and ongoing community engagement, the FDR Park Plan addresses frequent flooding issues and reimagines the historic Olmsted park in a way that balances residents’ interests in water, activity, & nature. With 348 acres, there’s room for everyone!
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FDR Park is an extremely well-used and well-loved park that serves Philadelphia’s diverse, ever-changing population by providing open spaces for gathering, recreation, and enjoying nature. The park has always been and continues to be a natural oasis and welcoming space for high-need populations including immigrant and refugee communities and underserved communities. However, the park today struggles with underfunding, deferred maintenance, and frequent flooding. While the park faces many challenges, the opportunities at this 348-acre site are unique and unlike any other park in the region.
FDR Park suffers from frequent flooding, even after a mild rain, because of low-lying land. Without intervention, the park will revert to a tidal marsh in the hotter, wetter future Philadelphia faces. With the FDR Park Plan, this is the first time in Philadelphia that a park plan has incorporated climate change projections as well as resiliency, including a comprehensive hydrology study that informed the entire plan. The plan reimagines the park’s topography in two zones – nature at the center and activity around the edges, with plenty of space for everyone.
The two zones are the Ecological Core and the Urban Edge. The Ecological Core will improve water flow and increase the park’s capacity to manage water, while providing native habitat for wildlife. Located in the heart of the park, the Ecological Core will make up 60% (209 acres) of the 348-acre park, including more natural meadows, wetlands, trails, and water access points. With the soil removed from the Ecological Core, the Urban Edge can be raised up out of the floodplain in key areas, allowing for investments that transform the perimeter of FDR Park, including an accessible playground, sports fields, and open lawn spaces.
The FDR Park Plan will increase access to nature and green space with the Ecological Core, and introduce sustainable natural lands to the park for the first time. The Ecological Core will encompass 60% (209 acres) of the 348-acre park and include more natural meadows, wetlands, trails, and water access points.
- In partnership with the Philadelphia International Airport, 33 acres of the park’s southwest border are being transformed into a wetland system. The new wetlands will provide important wildlife habitat and deliver access to trails and nature.
- The lakes will feature elevated boardwalks, a wooded picnic grove, and increased access points for fishing and paddling.
- Restored and accessible riparian edges (shorelines) of the lakes.
- The marsh area will provide park users with new water access to an expanded and restored Shedbrook Creek.
- The Wildflower Hill will rise 36 feet above FDR, offering great views of the city, the rivers, and beyond. The Hill will change with the seasons, offering sledding in the winter, panoramas of autumn color, and meadow wildflowers in the spring and summer.
- The trail network will expand from 2.4 miles to 10.38 miles.
With the Ecological Core at the heart of the park improving water management and providing wildlife habitat, the Urban Edge can be elevated up out of the floodplain in key areas, allowing for investments that transform the perimeter of FDR Park. In the Urban Edge, athletic fields, basketball and tennis courts, and playgrounds are tied together by a 5K multi-use trail and frequent spots to picnic, purchase refreshments, and play.
- A Gateway Plaza that will serve as a welcoming entrance for park users at the corner of Broad Street and Pattison Avenue.
- The park’s first-ever Welcome Center with much-needed amenities, including public restrooms, concessions, equipment rentals, and a staffed information desk.
- A 15-acre Great Lawn on the east side of Meadow Lake
- 8 acres of playspaces
- 36 picnic tables & 12 pavilions
- Franklin 5K loop trail
- 12 multi-purpose fields
- 6 baseball/softball fields
- 10 tennis courts
- 8 basketball courts
Yes, the fields will be open for public use and have a clear permitting system. Knowing the lack of access that youth sports teams currently face, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation will prioritize youth access to the sports fields and continue the practice of waiving permit fees for youth sports.
To ensure community access to the fields, Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation will continue to work with the Friends of FDR Park, other long-time stakeholders in the park (such as youth sports teams who have been playing there) as well as elected officials who represent the park and its users, to ensure equitable community access to the fields.
The FDR Park Plan ensures that there will be a physical space to accommodate the vendors’ markets moving forward. The City of Philadelphia’s current administration is committed to supporting the market through this process. In addition, Fairmount Park Conservancy and the City have supported the vendors’ efforts to formalize and organize as they formed the Vendors Association of FDR Park.
In January of 2023, the City announced a permanent home for the Southeast Asian Market in the southwest corner of FDR Park. With a location determined, the planning and design can move forward using a $100,000 grant awarded to the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia (CAGP) by the Philadelphia Department of Commerce in 2022.
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Walk & Talks
Learn more about the FDR Park Plan in-person on a FREE, 2-hour walking tour with Maura McCarthy, Fairmount Park Conservancy’s Chief Executive Officer.