Named for the peace treaty that William Penn and the Lenni Lenape tribes forged at the site in 1682, Penn Treaty Park is a prominent and heavily-used seven acre park situated on the Central Delaware Waterfront.
One of the few waterfront parks in the City of Philadelphia, Penn Treaty caters primarily to residents from Fishtown, a historically blue collar, working class riverward neighborhood that has recently seen an influx of young artists and professionals. Both life-long residents and recent transplants alike are frequent park users with an interest in improving the park space, the pathways that feed into it, and the communities that surround it. With a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse community base, the need for open space and recreational amenities in the surrounding neighborhoods is greater than ever. Quite simply, the demand is more than the park can meet in its current state.
Phase One of the project, with more than $3 million in planned capital improvements to the park, will be the first critical step in not only improving the park experience for residents but positioning the space as a top-tier Philadelphia destination.
The centerpiece of the Phase One work will be the creation of a new play space along the northeastern edge of the park. Blending in with the existing tree cover of the area, the new play space will include both traditional play equipment and more modern sculptural components that will reflect and encourage engagement with the natural world. The play space will feature one set of equipment designed for use by children ages 2-5 and a second set for ages 5-12. A continuous safety surface will cover the space, with accessible pathways and seating for adults. The play space will also include stormwater management features that will filter rainwater and reduce flooding in the play space, which has been a significant problem with the current playground. The City of Philadelphia Department of Public Property is in the process of designing the new play space, construction of which will begin in 2015.
In addition to the play space, Phase One will include a newly designed and constructed great lawn, park trail, and pier, as well as a restoration of the tidal wetland along the river’s edge. The lawn, already valued and well-used, will have its grading flattened by lifting up the sloping southern edge, making it a more obvious gathering place around which the rest of the park is organized and increasing opportunities for an expansive seat wall along its eastern perimeter. The park trails and paths will become both connector and destination, providing a place for people to stroll, meet friends, and view the scenery. The park’s paths will accommodate and be incorporated into the larger regional trail planned for the water front.
The proposed pier will extend the park further into the river, increasing the community’s access to the riverfront and allowing for places to launch small, human-powered watercraft. During Phase One, the water’s edge along the pier will be re-crafted, making for a softer and more gradual slope and an opportunity to reintroduce tidal wetlands to the area. This change in the water’s edge will make it more habitable and safe for people of all ages, while encouraging a broader range of recreational activities, and allowing for a more pronounced expression of the seven foot tidal fluctuation that occurs each day along the Delaware River.
With Phase One set to begin, the Penn Treaty Park Project promises to have an immediate positive impact on the perception, safety and accessibility of the park, making it a welcoming public space both for the surrounding communities and a top-tier regional destination.