Published on February 14 2014
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) sought proposals from qualified design/build consultants to prepare a design and construction plan for improvements to Pier 68 in South Philadelphia. The team lead by Studio Bryan Hanes and Bittenbender Construction was chosen. The project will occur on an aggressive schedule with implementation to begin in early 2014 and completed by early Fall 2014. The goal of the project is to develop Pier 68 into an attractive public space for recreation (specifically for fishing) and passive enjoyment of the Delaware River. The project is intended to enhance the existing interim trail which runs from Pier 70 Boulevard to Washington Avenue along the river.
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Existing Conditions, 2014

The Master Plan for the Central Delaware, a plan for the redevelopment and revitalization of six miles of Central Delaware River waterfront in Philadelphia, was released in October of 2011 and adopted by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission in March of 2012. This plan makes recommendations for a wide range of waterfront improvements including new development, open space, transportation networks, and programming. Both the full 300-page Master Plan as well as the 24-page Summary Report can be downloaded from the website.  

The Master Plan for the Central Delaware River includes a wetland restoration plan for the waterfront, utilizing the degraded piers from Pier 53 south to Pier 70. The master plan incorporates the assumption that port and commerce activity will be concentrated at the north and south ends of the waterfront for decades to come, making the area between Pier 53 and Pier 70, where some bulkhead edges have already significantly degraded, most suitable for restoration to a more naturalized condition and in some cases, significant wetlands and upland habitat creation. Locations for wetland creation were carefully chosen, and had been previously identified by the Philadelphia Water Department as valuable habitat for spawning fish. As part of the Master Plan, waterfront trails and linear parks on adjacent upland will also be installed, in addition to the wetlands park. Much of the development along this section was built on fill and was originally marshland, thus this restoration will move towards returning the site to its original condition, while also providing native habitat for various animal species.
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Historic Map, circa 1895

DRWC intends to transform the currently abandoned Pier 68 into a new waterfront destination for active recreation and waterfront enjoyment. Key programmatic features of the proposed pier restoration include a temporary dock for small watercrafts; new amenities for fishing, such as fish cleaning stations; community garden and/or new wetland creation; seating and tables for rest and relaxation.
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Historic Map, circa 1910

Given the significance of the fish habitat identified by the Philadelphia Water Department, and the popularity of fishing among the local population, particular attention will be given to fishing amenities and education. DRWC is especially interested in exploring new ways for people to interface with the park, both in person and online (for example by using mobile applications or other social media outlets to record and document information they observe, such as tidal intervals, fish species, or other wildlife).

The total project budget (including design and construction) is $750,000 to $1 million, depending on future grant funding. The goal of this project is to create a well-designed public space in the short-term that can later be incorporated into the larger scheme for the 30-acre wetlands park in the long-term.

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Historic Aerial Photograph, circa 1925-1926