Spruce Street Harbor Park (SSHP) opened on June 27th, 2014, to great fanfare throughout the city and region. Due to tremendous public demand, the Delaware River Waterfront Corp (DRWC) will be extending the season through Sunday, September 28. The hours of operation of both the park and the Garces Group-operated Blue Anchor restaurant and bar will remain the same. DRWC will continue to run programming throughout the month of September, with seasonal additions to complement fall on the waterfront.
Spruce Street Harbor Park was built using a substantial grant from ArtPlace America to transform the Penn’s Landing Marina to show visitors the great potential for the space. The objective of the seasonal park was to reconnect Philadelphians and regional visitors to the waterfront, and it has clearly succeeded and surpassed this goal. The park, which was conceptualized by DRWC, Interface Studios, Digsau, and Groundswell Design Group, consists of hammocks, both on-land and over the water, landscaped barges featuring a restaurant and bar, a floating garden, fountains, an urban beach and boardwalk, and numerous seating areas designed to create private “moments” throughout the entirety of the park. The full design of the project including the landscaping and programming evokes the maritime history of the area, and celebrates the River’s industrial past and the bright future ahead.
The success of the park cannot be overstated. Thousands of comments across social media, in-person interactions and surveys suggest that Spruce Street Harbor Park was the go-to place in Philadelphia this summer for both residents and tourists (Please use this link for a social media recap). Thomas Corcoran, President of DRWC, noted “we thought the park would be popular, but had no idea just how popular it would be.”
It is roughly estimated that an average of 35,000 people per week came to visit park and enjoy all of the amenities, with almost double those numbers during the July 4th holiday week. In addition to public input, the park has received accolades which include: being named one of the world’s best urban beaches by the Huffington Post, being included on a list of the world’s coolest floating restaurants by Travel and Leisure, and a “Best of Philly” award from Philadelphia Magazine. DRWC is in the process of creating a social and economic impact study of SSHP, with results to be released when the park closes for the season. The organization is also working hard to collect public input to inform all development along the waterfront, and is encouraging residents and visitors to submit suggestions through social media, email (email@example.com) or the website.
Once Spruce Street Harbor Park closes, DRWC crews will begin building the Blue Cross RiverRink and Waterfront Winterfest, which is the winter equivalent of SSHP. This rink and seasonal park continue DRWC’s mission to bring people to the waterfront throughout the year, and to grow excitement for all upcoming projects. We expect Waterfront Winterfest to be bigger and better this year, with brand new features yet to be announced, to keep the public engaged and excited about their waterfront
SSHP and Waterfront Winterfest are just two parts of the larger Master Plan for the Central Delaware, which was adopted in 2011 after years of civic visioning and support by Mayor Nutter’s administration. The Master Plan lays out both public and private development along the banks of the Central Delaware River, with parks every half mile, connector street projects, a fully built-out bike trail and the complete redevelopment of Penn’s Landing. DRWC has made major headway in the plan with the recent opening of Washington Avenue Pier, the ground-breaking of Pier 68, the creation of a showpiece section of the permanent bike trail, improvements to connector streets all along the waterfront, and the release of the Penn's Landing Feasibility Study.
DRWC is committed to providing Philadelphia with the waterfront it deserves, and willingly listens to public comments. The organization is happy to keep this beautiful space open for another month so that more people from all over the region can see how special the Delaware River Waterfront is and can be.