Every summer since 2013, Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation have transformed Eakins Oval – eight acres of public space at the base of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway – into The Oval+, the new ‘Park on the Parkway’ with programming and activities for people of all ages.
Situated among some of the most visited cultural institutions in Philadelphia, Eakins Oval had long been underused considering its prominent place along the bustling Parkway. Before its transformation into The Oval, Eakins Oval functioned primarily as a surface parking lot and offered no amenities and little use for the people living near the space. The Oval replaced a dead zone along the bustling parkway with a thriving pedestrian environment in which residents and visitors can engage meaningfully in arts and culture, and a place for the often-overlooked communities adjacent to the parkway’s cultural institutions to gather and enjoy park amenities.
Now known as The Oval+ because of its expanded footprint down the Parkway, the park features unique installations in addition to the ever-popular movie and music nights, beer garden and family friendly activities. For the latest details visit The Oval+’s website.
See below for highlights of previous seasons.
The Oval+ presented by PNC returns from July 19th to August 18th! For four weeks this summer, The Oval+ returns to Eakins Oval and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, bringing more fun for all ages than ever before. Three new features help to “Double the Fun on the Parkway” and encourage visitors to spend more time playing, creating, and hanging out both at Eakins Oval and along the Parkway. A block with the theme “MAKE,” located in front of the Barnes Foundation will
feature outdoor reading and music rooms as well as a shipping container transformed into a public space for art + design. A “HEAR” block, in front of the Rodin Museum, will feature an array of art installations, stadium seating, and a retrofitted double-decker bus that functions as a music venue and snack stand. A block for “PLAY,” located in front of Von Colln Park, features a pop-up basketball court, tether ball, badminton, ping-pong tables, and bleachers. The Oval+ is made possible thanks to our presenting sponsor, PNC. Thanks to additional sponsors: Knight Foundation, Visit Philadelphia, Inspire and Diadora.
For four weeks, from July 20 to August 19, 2018, a portion of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was transformed into a grand promenade with the theme, More PARK, More PLAY as part of The Oval+ presented by PNC. The 2018 season of The Oval+ built directly on the public feedback and data that Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation collected as part of 2017’s “What’s Your Parkway, Philly?” More than 40 percent of visitors said they wanted to see more family-related activities at The Oval+. This input, added to ongoing safety concerns about crossing multiple lanes of traffic, especially with small children, led the partners to build on the popularity of last year’s installations beyond the perimeter of Eakins Oval. For the second year in a row, Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation retained Philadelphia-based urban design firm PORT to develop the plan and installations for The Oval+. Each closed stretch of road was graced by a large-scale ground mural designed and installed by Mural Arts Philadelphia with the award-winning design and illustration studio The Heads of State. The goal for both Mural Arts and the design studio was to visually represent the idea of the Parkway being a unifying element between Fairmount Park and the city’s core. From kayaks on the Schuylkill to the soaring arches within the Wissahickon to the growing towers of Center City, each crosswalk illustrated the transition from park to city and back again.
In its fifth and busiest season to date, The Oval+ was open Wednesdays through Sundays, in July and August of 2017 with an expanded footprint and large-scale installations in addition to the movie and music nights, fitness classes, food trucks, beer garden, and kid-friendly activities. A cutting-edge design firm, PORT Urbanism of Philadelphia and Chicago, was engaged to develop an installation to inspire people to envision future, potential uses for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway beyond Eakins Oval. Taking the theme of “What’s your Parkway, Philly?” The Oval+ created focal points on the Parkway from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to Logan Circle – for connecting with nature; enjoying art, culture, and play; or gathering for public dialogue about the future of the Parkway. 200,000 residents and visitors experienced The Oval+ in 2017 in just five weeks.
In 2016 The Oval returned for its fourth season between July 15 and August 21, 2016. With a continuation of Wellness Wednesdays, Arts & Culture Thursdays, Food & Flick Fridays, Game Day Saturdays and Family Fun Sundays plus an even greater selection of free programming focused on healthy lifestyles and arts and cultural activities for all ages, summer of 2016 was a great success! PNC was the presenting sponsor and Warby Parker, Aimco/Park Towne Place, Commonwealth Charter Academy and Greater Media Inc provided additional support.
In Spring of 2015, The OVAL hosted Future Sensations, a brilliant immersive exhibition featuring five “ephemeral pavilions.” Philadelphia was one of just four cities around the world and the only U.S. city to host this futuristic traveling exhibit, which celebrated the 350th anniversary of Philadelphia-based Saint-Gobain. For one week, Saint-Gobain’s Future Sensations took over The OVAL with a free exhibition of five huge walk-through pavilions that gave visitors a 3-D digital experience merging 21st-century technology with storytelling and visual arts.
The 2015 summer season brought a record number of OVAL visitors, with 70,000 attendees between July 16 and August 23. The OVAL offered Wellness Wednesdays, Arts & Culture Thursdays, Food & Flick Fridays, Game Day Saturdays and Family Fun Sundays, attracting a wide range of Philadelphians and visitors over the course of its six week summer season. PNC was the presenting sponsor and Saint-Gobain, BMW of the Main Line, Mini of the Main Line, Aimco/Park Towne Place, Cabot Creamery, Commonwealth Connections Academy and Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association provided additional support.
In 2014, The OVAL returned to the Parkway with pop-up weekends in April, May and June, and with a full 6-week season of programming from Wednesday-Sunday between July and August. Pop-up weekends also followed in October, when a Ferris wheel was offered at The Oval for the first time. In 2014 we had 60,000 visitors who enjoyed daily programming, beer garden, free activities and games, arts and cultural programming, live music, movie nights and more. PNC was the presenting sponsor and BMW of the Main Line, Mini of the Main Line, Greater Media Inc, Ride the Ducks, Godshall’s Quality Meats and Commonwealth Connections Academy provided additional support.
In its start-up season, programming at The OVAL ran 12 hours per day, Tuesday through Sunday, in July and August 2013, with movie nights, live music, award-winning food trucks, yoga, bike classes, and more, bringing over 27,000 residents and visitors into Philadelphia’s newest park over six weeks.