The Ben Franklin Parkway is home to an award winning art collection at the new Barnes Foundation, and as of May 22nd it’s also home to a joyland for skateboarders at the $4.5M Franklin Paine’s Park. This park, in the shadow of the Art Museum, is set just above the banks of the Schuylkill River.
We stopped by the day after it opened and found it as full of skaters as a suburban shopping mall on Black Friday. The opening of the park represents a shift in the city’s consciousness. For years, skateboarding in Philly was frowned upon, culminating in the closing of LOVE Park to skateboarders a decade ago. For some background on this, check out Enemies of the Skate, a City Paper article from last year.
Workers first broke ground on the site this past October. Now that the park is completed, members of Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund will work on developing programming and maintaining the park. They will also work on continuing construction at the Grays Ferry Crescent Park, the 3500 sqft park being built at the Grays Ferry Crescent section of the Schuylkill River Trail. The Skatepark Fund also has proposed plans for a Mantua skatepark at 36th & Aspen in West Philadelphia.
It’s amazing to consider just how many new parks and green spaces have come into existence in recent years in Philadelphia. Consider the redevelopment of Sister Cities Park in Logan Square completed last year, plans for improvements to Penn Treaty Park along the waterfront in Fishtown, and the beginning of the public process considering Phase II for Washington Avenue Green, and the continued redevelopment of a waterfront pier. Consider also the transformation of some schools’ blacktops into greenspace, and one can begin to see the various elements of citywide efforts to green Philadelphia, and reinvent and reenergize its public spaces.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we have some skateboarding to do.