We were in Pennsport the other day on our way to get the old jalopy inspected and happened upon Karen Donnelly Park, a public green space we never knew existed. According to the South Philly Review, this little patch of public space at 230 Dickinson St. was originally established as a quiet resting place for area residents back in 1978. For years, it contained a few tables and chairs and several trees, but upkeep fell off and the area was leveled by the City in the 1990s.

In 2009

Around 2005, the City decided to sell the lot for redevelopment, but after a few years of pushback from neighbors the plan changed to refashion the space into a new and improved pocket park. The space, as you can see, has been totally rebuilt from the ground up with permanent tables (with three checkerboards!) and chairs, benches, a path crafted from pavers, and a small play area for young kids. There’s also a strange metal object in the middle of the park reminiscent of the Chicago jelly bean. We don’t know what’s up with it, but it apparently gets really hot in the summer.

Current view is much improved

The path and some tables

Wasn't too hot today, but looks like it could burn ya in July

Play area has a teeter totter on astroturf

Looking back toward Dickinson

While this play area pales in comparison to the improvements recently made a few blocks away at Dickinson Square Park, this space is still a welcome respite from the bricks and cement that surround it on all sides. We were a little surprised to see the park empty when we visited, but with Love Your Park events happening all over town last week, we suspect that it drew a good crowd for general cleanup and park-tending. And as the summer heats up and school lets out, we’d imagine that the park will get plenty of use in the months to come.

If you’re in the area, check it out! And maybe you can figure out the deal with the metal thing in the middle.