September 30, 2018. The last day of September, and a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

It was the first clear day since autumn officially arrived on September 20. There had been so much rain during the summer in Philadelphia that the park appeared almost overgrown. The early fall flowers were the benficiary. The humidity is decreasing. Soon the leaves on the trees will be changing colors.

squirrel on log

Squirrels are gathering and preparing for colder weather. The resident groundhog is burrowing into its cave of composted leaves and twigs, piled up under the original mulberry trees— the few that were left uncut when the the pier was developed as a park in 2012. Turtles dig into the mud, but can be seen sunning on concrete piers and logs, catching what is left of the sun of days becoming shorter and darker.

Northern map turtle

Some of the birds. like ducks and geese, stay all winter. Others migrate.

ducks swimming near the pier


This stretch of the Delaware River is part of the Atlantic Flyway—a major highway for migrating birds. Washington Avenue Pier is an ideal viewing venue in autumn.

Cormorants and herons don't stay here through the winter, but head south during the fall season.



Ongoing at Washington Avenue Green is the Pier 53 Project—a historical study of the immigrants who arrived at the Pier from 1876 to the 1920's, their stories, and the stories of their descendants. Each story is part of a mosaic that contributes to the history of Philadelphia and its waterfront, and ultimately to the history of immigration in the United States.

Here's the link to the Pier 53 Project page on this site. Pier 53 Project

And here's the link to a podcast first aired on WHYY on June 14, 2018. It includes an interview with Susan McAninley and a description of the Pier 53 Project.

Photo of sign above is by Kathy Martin. All other photos by Susan McAninley.