Philadelphia, PA -
05/10/2012 - Today, exactly one year after groundbreaking for a newly designed Sister Cities Park, the Center City District (CCD) cut the ribbon and officially opened the multi-purpose park on Logan Square at 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The $4.9 million renovation of Sister Cities Park has transformed the 1.3-acre park into a richly planted, well-illuminated and welcoming public space that offers a variety of amenities for people of all ages to enjoy 365 days a year, and is part of the $20.9 million makeover of public spaces on the Parkway. The new park offers a children’s discovery garden with winding pathways, meandering stream and boat pond, a Milk & Honey Café, a satellite of the Independence Visitor Center, and a plaza that features a one-of-a-kind fountain embedded in bluestone and commemorating Philadelphia’s Sister Cities program that connects Philadelphia with 10 cities throughout the world.
Among those joining CCD President and CEO Paul R. Levy for the ribbon-cutting were Mayor Michael A. Nutter; City Council President Darrell L. Clarke; Deputy Mayor Michael DiBerardinis; Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Barry Schoch; Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Deputy SecretaryJohn Giordano; The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Don Kimelman, and others who helped make possible the improved park. Adding to the festivities, the Friends Select School Choir offered a musical presentation and students from the Russell Byers Charter School christened the wooden boats for their maiden voyages in the children’s discovery garden’s boat pond.
“Sister Cities Park is a special addition to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and yet another reason for families with children to visit and live in Center City Philadelphia,” Levy said. “The Center City District is grateful for the generous support we received from many stakeholders to transform this park into an inviting and attractive outdoor space with an array of programs that will entertain and educate.”
“We are excited to be a part of this wonderful project, which will enable us to offer to Parkway visitors the full array of visitor services that we provide at our main location at Sixth and Market Streets,” said James J. Cuorato, president and CEO of the Independence Visitor Center Corporation (IVCC).
Sister Cities Park will be managed and maintained by the Center City District through a lease from the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation, and renovations were made possible by generous funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the William Penn Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the State Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
The design team included DIGSAU architects, Studio|Bryan Hanes, landscape architect, and Pennoni Engineers, Inc.
Two bronze figurative sculptures in Sister Cities Park were restored by the City’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. The sculpture of Don Diego de Gardoqui was a gift from the Spanish government to the City of Philadelphia in 1977. The sculpture of Thomas Fitzsimons, the Irish-American merchant, statesman and signer of the Constitution, was a gift to the City in 1946 from the Society of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and was repaired with the aid of a generous contribution from the Philadelphia Chapter.
In the coming months, Sister Cities Park will offer a variety of programs presented in partnership with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation and others, including yoga, theater, fitness classes, nature studies, and much more. The park will continue to celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, May 12, with exciting and fun activities as part of Love Your Park Week, which runs through May 19.
Sister Cities Park was originally dedicated in 1976 to recognize Philadelphia’s participation in the global Sister Cities Program, which builds peace, mutual understanding and economic ties through official city-to-city relationships. Philadelphia’s first two sister cities were Florence, Italy, and Tel Aviv, Israel, named in 1964 and 1966, respectively, and followed by Torun, Poland; Tianjin, China; Incheon, Korea; Douala, Cameroon; Nizhny Novgorod, Russia; Kobe, Japan; Aix-en-Provence, France; and Abruzzo, Italy. The program is run by the International Visitors Center (IVC).
For more information on programs, amenities and hours, please go to www.SisterCitiesPark.org.
The Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City’s competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Find us at www.centercityphila.org and on Facebook and Twitter.