The Philadelphia waterfront has never been a place I enjoyed visiting. I remember it as a place we were dragged to on school field trips to the excruciatingly boring waterfront museum, or a vast wasteland with no bathroom when we visited for fireworks one July and left hurriedly when someone in the crowd yelled “he’s got a knife!”, a drab expanse of concrete with a view of an equally drab stretch of water, looking out on Camden, or a place we visited for German festivals and ate bratwurst and sauerkraut, an empty space where culture could be plopped down into it on weekends.
Since I grew up some things have changed about the waterfront, mostly on the other side of the river. Now boasting Campbell’s baseball field, the Camden Aquarium, the Camden Children’s Garden, Wiggins Park (outdoor concert venue) and Promenade and the Susquehanna Bank Center (indoor concert venue), Camden is suddenly a nice place to visit, spend the day, lay in the grass and enjoy live music, a reason to take the ferry across the river, ride the beautiful tram from downtown Camden (not so beautiful), or walk across the Ben Franklin Bridge to their network of GreenWays, wide paths designed for walking and biking.
I had little hope for beauty on our side of the waterfront or engaging interest of any kind until a recent trip to a marina on the water. Some distant relatives from Florida visited the area this summer and rented a houseboat on the water in a closed marina. While we were there we walked out to the end of the pier to watch the passing boats. The marina’s small inlet framed the view of the Ben Franklin bridge and Campbell’s Field across the water, the sun was glinting off of the ripples in the water and the pier bobbed up and down with the wake of passing ships. Suddenly, it seemed like an enjoyable recreation area and a relaxing vista with cool water breezes. What a nice place to visit! We left the marina an walked a few steps to the start of Penns Landing and listened to the salsa music coming from the weekend’s festival and passed the riverboat and I realized how beautiful our riverfront could be…
Photo sources and links to Delaware Waterfront projects and other waterfront development:
The Friends of Penn Treaty Park: http://penntreatypark.org/
Historical Waterfront Images: http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/wphila/exhbts/grubel/BachmanviewWest.html
Haas Landscape Architects: http://haas-la.com/water_owego.php
I 95 Article: http://www.infraculture.org/philly/
Louisville Waterfront Park: http://www.louisvillewaterfront.com/park/gallery/
Waterfront Toronto: http://www.waterfrontoronto.ca/
Other images include google searches for New Orleans Woldenberg Park and Savannah Waterfront