LOVE Park is one of the most prominent public spaces in Philadelphia, surrounded by municipal buildings and serving as a gateway to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Famously, it has been home to Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture for decades, the site of many tourist photos and countless marriage proposals. It was also a skateboarding destination until Mayor John Street put the brakes on the practice back in 2002. For such an iconic location, the park was getting rather worn down, and we were as excited as anyone the hear, a couple years back, about plans for a large-scale renovation.
We checked in on the progress a little over a year ago, and noted that the demolition was complete but the project had experienced some delays because of infrastructure problems. City officials had expected the renovation would be finished by the spring, but we believed that was an unrealistic deadline. And it turns out we were correct, as the park only reopened last week, as the Christmas Village made its triumphant return after spending last year on the apron of City Hall and in Dilworth Park. As usual, the Christmas Village has a variety of merchants hawking holiday gifts and delicious treats. We recommend the waffles.
With all of the sheds scattered around the park, it was really tough to get a sense of what it will look like after the holiday season. It was also a challenge to get a sense of the space because there’s still a bunch of construction still ongoing. Some of the sheds are unfortunately fronting JFK Blvd., and feel a little removed from the rest of the scene. And at different corners of the park, there’s still some serious construction activity.
It will probably be a few more months before the park is totally finished, at which point you can expect a grand opening ceremony and perhaps an unveiling of a touched-up LOVE statue. For now though, we suggest a walk through the Christmas Village and maybe a visit to the skating rink across the street, if you find yourself downtown and with some time on your hands.