2028 may be several years away, but that won’t stop us thinking about Penn’s Landing Park here in 2024. You’ve likely heard about it by now, but this 11.5-acre, $400+ million park has been in the works for years, with plans to completely revitalize the unfriendly hardscaping of the woefully underutilized Great Plaza. A number of state, local, and philanthropic groups have pitched in funds to make the grand vision from HargreavesJones and KireanTimberlake a landscaped, activated reality. This project will also reconnect Old City more seamlessly to the Delaware River Waterfront, somewhat rectifying the ills caused by the construction of I-95 several decades ago.

An aerial rendering of the park, going from Front St. to the water, Walnut St. to Chesnut St.

First, some new renderings! We told you about the name change, but now we have even more visuals, thanks to a submission to the Art Commission. Exit Design was tapped to help with branding, signage, and wayfinding, and thankfully we have another round of enticing visuals to get us pumped anew.  Sans serif, modern fonts are combined with simple line drawings to define the park area, allowing the signage to complement instead of dominate the landscaping. These new visuals also give us a better idea of the pedestrian experience when approaching the park from both the city and the river.

A look at the approach from the NW corner at Front & Chestnut
The same view a bit further back, with the pavilion in the background
The entrance at the SW corner, at Front & Walnut
A look at the lighting at night
At the far SE corner, the esplanade integrates effortlessly with the new park
Another view of the future
A look at the southern edge of the park at Walnut St.

What a difference from the closed-off, unapproachable present. These new entrances beckon people to enter instead of challenging them to venture into the beyond, blurring the edges between the sidewalks and new public space. But before we get to this grand future, there’s the little matter of construction. The view today doesn’t look quite as nice as these renderings, but all of the action that we saw when we made our way around the upper and lower ends of the park certainly looked gorgeous to us.

Steel and cranes greet you today at Front & Chestnut
Looking towards the water from between Chestnut & Walnut
Looking south from Walnut at the major progress thus far
The SE corner of the park, with the Seaport Museum immediately next door
Another look behind the fence
Some substantial beams appear to have been excavated during construction
Looking west from Delaware Ave., soon to be capped
A look from Delaware Ave. and Chestnut, where demo and clearing was taking place
Another look at the expanse of the future park

This progress literally had us pumping our fists with enthusiasm, and heading a bit further south, we could see even more work taking place. A new pedestrian bridge will connect the South Street pedestrian bridge directly to the wonderful Delaware River Trail. Not only will this help tie in Society Hill and Queen Village to the path, the design will also serve as something of a new gateway from the south into the reimagined Penn’s Landing area. Plenty of work was taking place here, including on the river side where the new bridge will link up with the trail.

An aerial of the new pedestrian bridge, connecting South St. (left) to the trail (right)
A rendering of the dramatic, arched bridge
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Looking east over the South St. pedestrian bridge
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A look from the current terminus, with a new structural support already in place
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Looking back at the South St. bridge from Delaware Ave.
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A look at the eastern base location of the new bridge

It can be tough to wrap your head around plans this vast, but we are thrilled to report that work was taking place everywhere when we made our way around the site. With funding and firm plans to pair with these renderings and rebar, what used to be a conceptual crown jewel in the heart of the waterfront crown is quickly starting to be polished up. We can only imagine what sort of draw this will be once complete in a few years, surely serving as a new landmark for long-time Philadelphians and first-time visitors alike.