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This story originally appeared in the Philadelphia Business Journal
Washington Avenue Pier, the Delaware River Waterfront Corp.’s newest permanent park, located on Washington Avenue and Columbus Boulevard, is now open to the public.
The $1.5 million project, formerly known as Pier 53, will serve as the northern anchor of a wetlands park and recreational trail system, running south to Pier 68, a $1.7 million project that’s currently under construction and expected to open in mid-2015.
The design of park highlights its history as a shipbuilding center, port-of-entry and naturalized finger pier. Highlighted features include:
- Panoramic views of the Delaware River, Center City and the Benjamin Franklin and Walt Whitman bridges
- An on-grade path allowing visitors to reach the tip of the pier and touch the water
- An elevated boardwalk that let’s visitors to pass over the wetland area below
- 55-inch spire called the “Land Buoy” by artist Jody Pinto allows visitors to climb a 16-inch spiral staircase to a platform that allows for views up and down the river. The structure also emits a soft blue light, acting as a beacon — a throwback to the pier’s history as Philadelphia’s immigration station
- Ecological enhancements including intertidal and riparian plantings, and stabilization methods
- Original site materials like old timber and bricks were repurposed into the new park as structural elements, including furnishings and a gateway marker at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Columbus Boulevard, signaling the entrance to the park
Washington Avenue Pier is near the site of the nation’s first Navy Yard, where the USS Philadelphia, the frigate captured and burned during the First Barbary War, was constructed. The pier is also the site of Philadelphia’s immigration station, which brought in more than one million immigrants from the 1870’s through the World War I.
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The pier was designed by Applied Ecological Services (AES), and built by AES and Neshaminy Contractors.
DRWC broke ground on the pier last October. It is part of a master plan that the corporation established in 2011 to address development along a six-mile stretch of the Delaware River.
“This park will spur development on nearby parcels at the southern end of the central Delaware River and provide much-needed permanent public access and green space in South Philadelphia,” Thomas Corcoran, president of DRWC, said in a statement. “We’re pressing full-speed ahead to develop Pier 68 as a southern trailhead with connections to the nearby neighborhoods, as well as complete a permanent trail between the two parks to provide an important segment of the Delaware River trail and the Circuit.”
Washington Avenue Pier will benefit from the Friends of Washington Avenue Green, which will focus on maintaining and expanding the park. The $2.15 million pier park was funded through support from the William Penn Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and DRWC capital funds.-30-
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