Relax and unwind at Race Street Pier on the Delaware River Waterfront
The park provides soaring views of the Ben Franklin Bridge and the wide expanse of the river. Sit on the terraced promenade and watch runners and trains pass by overhead, listen to Duck Boats splash into the water, and gaze out as the barges float slowly past.
The Pier is picnic-friendly, with a spacious lawn and manicured plantings, providing a vegetated park suspended over the river. On some nights, stay and watch musicians, outdoor movies, or one of the summer fireworks displays.
History of Race Street Pier
The new Race Street Pier opened on May 12, 2011 as the first new public space of its kind to be realized as part of DRWC’s ambitious new Master Plan for the Central Delaware River Waterfront. Formerly Municipal Pier 11, the pier was renamed as the Race Street Pier to further reinforce its relationship to the City and reinstate its historic name.
Construction of the original Race Street Pier began in 1896 including a large building built on two levels to serve different functions; the lower level for shipping and the upper level for recreation. As a nod to its past, the physical design of the new pier is split into two levels – an upper level with a grand sky promenade and a lower level for passive recreation and social gathering. A dramatic ramp rises twelve feet into the air along the north face of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, dramatizing the sense of arriving in the space of the river through a forced one-point perspective and allowing for rare views back to the City. A sun-filled lower terrace supports a multi-purpose lawn, planting beds and seating. The two levels are linked by a generous seating terrace that wraps around the end of the pier and amplifies the sense of magic associated with being on the edge.
Race Street Pier is an integral part of a series of open space improvements proposed every half mile along the central Delaware as part of the new Master Plan for the Central Delaware. Funding for new park has been provided by The City of Philadelphia, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, William Penn Foundation, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (Coastal Zone Management) and a challenge grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
FACTS ABOUT THE PIER
- The 37 large caliper Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) trees were cultivated for four years at a nursery in Millstone, N.J for the World Trade Center Memorial at Ground Zero in New York City.
- Almost 10,250 individual 4 inch plots of shade tolerant grasses and perennials were planted in weathered steel planters to increase diversity and add texture, color and seasonal interest.
- The park’s setting under the Ben Franklin Bridge is spectacular at night; therefore the park was designed to be enjoyed in the evening as well as during the day with extensive lighting including 200 LED Solar Light Blocks embedded into the paving
- The paving on the upper level ramp is Trex, a sustainable synthetic decking material made out of reclaimed plastic and wood, representing one of the largest public installations of Trex decking in the country.
- The perimeter railing leans at a 65 degree angle towards the pier, further accentuating the forced one-point perspective of the ramp rising along the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Lights are incorporated into railing on the lower level.
- Tiered seating terraces link the upper and lower levels and create a destination at the end of the pier for viewing, gathering, and contemplation.
- Two wharf-drops on the lower level originally used to unload cargo for shipping were retrofitted and integrated into the new park. They are covered with transparent metal grating and a portion of one has been left open for users to experience the river in an unusual and authentic way.
- Over 2,015 cubic yards of geofoam were used to form the sky promenade on the upper level.
- The Delaware River is tidal, fluctuating an average of six feet in elevation a day. At mean high water level, the lower level of the pier will be approximately 4.5 feet above the river, making the Race Street Pier one of rare places where you can get close to the water. The Race Street Pier is also a tidal register, where you can find out the forecast for high and low tides for the City of Philadelphia.