When a few of the Drexel students working with me at Lombard Center Community Garden told me that I needed to check out the latest in Philadelphia’s Pop-Up gardens down at the waterfront, I knew it was a ‘must see’.
Although it’s described as a ‘summer pop-up park complete with a boardwalk, urban beach, floating barges, mist walk, lily pad gardens, hammock gardens, and more’ on its website, Spruce Street Harbor Park–A Creative Urban Pop-Up Park That Is Making A Difference, feels more Key West, Fla. than Ocean City, N.J.
What separates this park from anything else I’ve seen in Philadelphia is that even on a blazing hot summer day, the dozens of hammocks strategically placed with friends, lovers, and families relaxing on them makes you feel that you’ve stumbled into another world – one where people are hanging, connecting, swinging, and just enjoying being with each other cushioned by the shade of the trees and the river near by. There is something incredibly old-fashioned and heartwarming about this vignette.
As stated in the literature “The Spruce Street Harbor Park at the Penn’s Landing Marina is a two-month summer program throughout July and August that brings a boardwalk, urban beach, fountains, and misting areas to the Delaware River Waterfront. The centerpiece of the project is a series of floating barges complete with lily pad water gardens, a pop-up restaurant and bar, and nets that suspend visitors over the water. The full design of the project includes the landscaping and programming help evoke the maritime history of the area, and helps celebrate the River’s industrial past and the bright future ahead for Philadelphia’s waterfront. ”
I love how (in the picture above) an eye sore has been transformed into a hanging garden by using inexpensively priced containers and a slew of plantings that are dripping over the edge towards the water- creating an effect of a vertical garden.
This park is not meant to compete with other parks in the area. The Delaware River waterfront has historically been underutilized. And like so much of Philadelphia, hidden gems are only recently being discovered and utilized.
“Landscape architect David Fierabrand is the principal of Groundswell, the Hopewell, N.J.-based firm that took the lead on designing and building the temporary space. Groundswell already worked its botanical magic on Festival Pier, Morgan’s Pier and PHS pop-ups. “We really wanted to activate the water, to make it interesting enough that people come to it, and to make it artful,” Fierabrand said.” **
The project cost $500,000 paid for in part by a $310,000 grant for “creative placemaking” from the national organization ArtPlace.
Spruce Street Pop-Up Park is one of many urban parks that is helping to infuse Philadelphia with a feeling of playfulness and love and a sense of place. The City of Brotherly Love is finally hitting its stride and becoming the world class urban arena that a lot of us have dreamt about for years.
What do you think of it?
** quoted from Philadelphia Inquirer