West Philadelphia

Centennial Commons Ground Breaking: Green Upgrades to Protect Philly Waterways

This rendering of the Parkside Edge improvements shows the location of rain gardens that add landscaping to the area while managing stormwater from local streets and protecting the Schuylkill River. Credit: Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Studio|Bryan Hanes
This rendering of the Parkside Edge improvements shows the location of rain gardens that add landscaping to the area while managing stormwater from local streets and protecting the Schuylkill River. Credit: Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Studio|Bryan Hanes

The Philadelphia Water Department joined partners in kicking off major improvements coming to Fairmount Park’s Centennial District during a ground breaking ceremony on Thursday, April 20.

Representing the first phase of the Centennial Commons project—an ambitious plan connecting nearby Parkside residents to the area of West Fairmount Park that once hosted the famed Centennial Exhibition of 1876—the event took place at 41st Street and Parkside Avenue.

This initial phase of the project includes Green City, Clean Waters investments that will bring natural landscaping features to the upgraded park. Mostly managing stormwater from the streets of the adjacent Parkside neighborhood, the series of new rain gardens, featuring native plants, will keep millions of gallons of polluted water out of local waterways each year.

Thursday: Celebrate Improvements at Conestoga Playground

Room for Growth at 53rd and Media is a Mural Arts project heralding more improvements, including green infrastructure that will keep 32.5 million gallons of stormwater pollution out of the Schuylkill each year, coming to the site.
Mural Art’s “Room for Growth” project at the Conestoga Rec Center. Credit: Mural Arts

You’re invited to celebrate big improvements at the Conestoga Community Playground, located at 53rd and Media streets in the Hestonville neighborhood.

Join Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Mural Arts and the Trust for Public Land’s Parks for People Philadelphia team at 3:30 p.m. on December 8 as we mark this special occasion at the playground.

Photos and More: Big Celebration Welcomes New Rain Garden, Mural at Vacant Lot Site

We want to send out a big thank you to all who came out to celebrate the new rain gardens and mural in Hestonville yesterday! Below you’ll find photos from the event and coverage from local TV stations:

Come See How Green City, Clean Waters Helped Transform a Vacant Lot into a Community Gem

This is close-up image showing an American shad on the mural at 55th and Hunter Streets. The mural features raised and textured elements that make it pop off the wall.
This detail shows shad depicted in the new West Phila. mural created by Eurhi Jones and Mike Reali. Credit: Philadelphia Water

What happens when the nation’s boldest green infrastructure program meets the nation’s boldest mural arts program in a vacant West Philly lot?

The public is invited see for themselves at the Heston Rain Garden Mural Dedication & Ribbon Cutting event, to be held on Wednesday, October 5 at 3:30 p.m. at 55th and Hunter streets in the Hestonville neighborhood.

Join Philadelphia Water, Parks and Recreation, the Mural Arts Program, Councilman Curtis Jones, the Hestonville Civic Association and community members in celebrating the first Green City, Clean Waters vacant land transformation, a project that turned an empty lot into a green space that manages stormwater, protects local waterways, and features a vibrant water-themed mural from Philly artists Eurhi Jones and Mike Reali.

Get Wild about Watersheds, Urban Greening and West Philly Nature

Dan Kobza of Wild West Philly takes residents on a nature walk highlighting wildlife and green infrastructure around Papa Playground in West Philadelphia. Join Philadelphia Water and Wild West Philly for special nature walk on June 25. Photo Credit: Joe Piette
Dan Kobza of Wild West Philly takes residents on a nature walk highlighting wildlife and green infrastructure around Papa Playground in West Philadelphia. Join Philadelphia Water and Wild West Philly for special nature walk on June 25. Photo Credit: Joe Piette

Philadelphia Water is all about helping people understand the ways in which our lives and communities are intimately connected to the local waterways that sustain us.

We know—living in a big city like Philadelphia, it can be easy to forget that we’re still a part of a natural world that includes waterways like the Cobbs Creek and Delaware River. Luckily, we have lots of residents who care about nature and want to learn more.

That’s why we’re teaming up with Naturalist Interpreter Dan Kobza of Wild West Philly (one of our watershed partnership groups) for a special walk on Saturday, June 25 at the historic Mt. Moriah Cemetery, much of which has been reclaimed by nature. (RSVP for this free event here.)

Commissioner McCarty, West Philly Kids Celebrate 5 Years of Green City, Clean Waters at Green Schoolyard

Greening Henry C. Lea School - Ribbon Cutting

Philadelphia Water Commissioner Debra A. McCarty joined students and members of the West Philadelphia Coalition for Neighborhood Schools at Henry C. Lea Elementary on May 10 to celebrate five years of Green City, Clean Waters and the completion of a new schoolyard featuring three rain gardens, nearly two dozen new trees, and porous paving and play surfaces.

Planting Day Crowns Project to Improve School with Green Infrastructure, SMIP Grant

Trees, permeable pavement and a rain garden all make the Lea schoolyard a better place for kids and Philadelphia’s waterways. Credit: West Philadelphia Coalition for Neighborhood Schools
Trees, permeable pavement and a rain garden all make the Lea schoolyard a better place for kids and Philadelphia’s waterways. Credit: WPCNS

Since 2012, Philadelphia Water has worked with members of the Lea Elementary School community and a number of partners to redesign their schoolyard and the surrounding area in a way that benefits the students, the neighborhood and our local waterways.

Bartram’s Mile Extends SRT — And Helps the Schuylkill River, Too

It’s official: Philadelphia students joined Parks and Recreation, Philadelphia Water and other partners in a Bartram’s Mile ground breaking ceremony on Nov. 23. Credit: Philadelphia Water
It’s official: Philadelphia students joined Parks and Recreation, Philadelphia Water and other partners in a Bartram’s Mile ground breaking ceremony on Nov. 23. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Bartram’s Mile—the first stretch of the Schuylkill River Trail to reach the river’s west bank within the city—is an exciting public-private partnership that will add a beautiful new mile-long greenway to the Schuylkill River.

Partners on the project, which broke ground on November 23, include Philadelphia Water, Parks and Recreation, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, the William Penn Foundation and Bartram’s Garden.

You can read a good Philadelphia Magazine article on the new trail segment by clicking here but, in essence, Bartram’s Mile will follow the Schuylkill River from Grey’s Ferry Avenue to 56th Street and include a new pedestrian bridge connecting South and West Philly.

This exciting improvement is designed to bring many more residents and visitors to our waterfront, which is becoming more and more popular as our rivers become cleaner and more attractive. It will also provide easy access—a new gateway for pedestrians, cyclists and more—to some local gems like Bartram’s Garden, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, and John Heinz Wildlife Refuge.

Construction of the proposed “Schuylkill River Swing Bridge”—what the east-west connector is being called—could start as early as this summer and be complete by the end of 2017, according to Plan Philly.

And (as if creating a new green amenity for the city and providing a brand new way to access the waterfront isn’t cool enough!) this project will also fight stormwater pollution with an innovative green infrastructure “greenway” on three nearby streets.

Come Out and Hear the Cobbs Creek Story!

“The valley of Cobb’s Creek, north of Market Street” by H. Parker Rolfe. Source: City Parks Association 1905-06 Annual Report. Credit: Adam Levine and Phillyh2o.org
“The valley of Cobb’s Creek, north of Market Street” by H. Parker Rolfe. Source: City Parks Association 1905-06 Annual Report. Credit: Adam Levine and Phillyh2o.org

We know that people who are aware of their local watershed and the challenges it faces—along with why that water is important—make for better stewards. They care about issues like keeping pet waste and litter out of the streets that ultimately drain into the watershed. And they know what an important role programs like Green City, Clean Waters play in protecting their watershed.

Encouraging that kind of engagement and knowledge is the goal guiding our efforts to collect and share the stories and history connected to the 22-square mile Cobbs Creek Watershed, which is part of the larger Darby-Cobbs Watershed, one of seven in the city. Cobbs Creek itself starts right around Haverford College and runs through the western suburbs and West Philadelphia before entering Darby Creek above the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge near the Philadelphia International Airport (click here for an interactive watershed map).

Next week, we’ll be hosting a special talk about the history of Cobbs Creek with Adam Levine, a local historian who has spent two decades studying and documenting the history of water and waterways in Philadelphia. You would be hard pressed to find another person with more knowledge of what the city’s watersheds have been through since the first European settlers came here, and Levine’s presentations are always fascinating and informative.

1st Annual Mill Creek Tour

 

Mill Creek can be found on 19th century maps of Philadelphia, draining more than 4,000 acres of West Philadelphia with its main stem and tributaries. Look at a map today and you may find names associated with the waterway, but you won’t find any signs of the stream itself. So what happened to Mill Creek? To find out, join Adam Levine and Drew Brown of the Philadelphia Water Department on a bus tour that will explore the history of the old creek. Tracing its now hidden path, you will hear stories about the creek itself as well as the industry and farmland once found along its banks. The tour will include a discussion about the consequences of burying a creek in a pipe and building a city above it.

 

Each participant will receive an illustrated booklet highlighting the creek's past and present, as well as a map showing where the stream once ran. All money collected from the tour will go directly to the Overbrook Environmental Education Center, which works to improve the environment of the Overbrook neighborhood through a variety of programs. Participants are welcome to learn more about the OEEC and visit its facilities at the end of the tour.

 

Mill Creek Bus Tour with Adam Levine and Drew Brown of PWD
Saturday, December 6, 2014 8:45

am to 1:00 pm COST: $10 per person


Space is limited. Please call (215) 879-7770 to check availability and reserve your spot. This tour will be offered again in the near future. 


The bus will leave from and return to Overbrook Environmental Education Center, 6134 Lancaster Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19151. Tour will be held rain or shine, but IN CASE OF ICE OR SNOW, it may be postponed. For information, call OEEC the morning of the tour at (215) 879-7770.

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