looking south from Pier 53 to wWalt Whitman Bridge and S.S. United States

June 25, 2016. It was a lusciously beautiful hot summer afternoon when four artists arrived with paints and easels and canvases to Pier 53. They were there to continue a mid-Nineteeth Century tradition of painting directly on site and outdoors. It's called 'plein air'—open air—painting. Pier 53 has a six-foot tide and constantly changing light, so it was a bit challenging. A few visitors to the Park politely asked if they could watch, and then moved on with their dogs and bicycles.

Pier 70. In 2012 five acres of land and 11 acres of riparian lands at the end of Pier 70 Boulevard were purchased by Natural Lands Trust. The two sites (Pier 53 and Pier 70) now serve as bookends for the proposed southern Delaware River Trail, a permanent .7-mile multi-use, recreational trail along the river. The area is planned to include mixed-use developments by private builders.

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The waterfront had once been described as 'the retreating glacier of Philadelphia's industrial past'.

map of waterfront from Pier 53 to Pier 70

Liberty on the River. K4 Associates is in the initial planning stages of a mega- project on Columbus Boulevard adjacent to Washington Avenue Green. Barton Architects is doing the design, and Gilbane is the contractor.

The plan is to grant 9.5 acres to the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), which will make possible the continuance of the riverfront trail set back 100 feet from the river's edge and continued environmental restoration.

 

It's a huge project, with the final plan to have ten towers total which will include two towers on what is now Pier 55 and two towers on what is now Pier 57. Future community meetings with K4 and residents of the surroundling neighborhoods are anticipated to provide feedback and to help nail down the final design.

K4 expects to break ground in the spring of 2017, with initial building of a rental tower of approximately 268 units, a hotel, and an open space entrance connecting to the off-ramp from I95.

 

historical sign at WSashington Avenue and Columbus Boulevard at the entrance to the Park

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 .


Top photo is a detail from a painting by Mike Manley who also took the photo. the view is from the beach of Pier 53 looking south to the Walt Whitman Bridge and the S.S. United States. There are more photos. Here's the link. Photo of sign above is by Kathy Martin. All other photos and artwork by Susan McAninley.